Extreme seasonal changes in Amazon river levels threaten forest conservation by indigenous people

Rivers in the Amazon are cycling between increasingly severe states of flood and drought, as predicted by climate change models, and the results are directly impacting local wildlife and the indigenous people who protect the forest, a new study shows. The study, published online recently in the journal Conservation Biology, looked at seven years of population data on mammals, birds, fish and reptiles from the river bottom to the forest canopy in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve of Peru, and examined which groups thrived and which suffered from ever more extreme wet and dry seasons. For many, it didn’t look good. “We watched the animal populations in the yearly analysis, and we were seeing them crash in front of our eyes!” said lead author Richard Bodmer, a conservation biologist from the University of Kent in the U.K. But the crashes seemed to follow a cyclic pattern. 1. Populations of red-bellied piranhas (Pygocentrus nattereri) dramatically decreased in the Peruvian Amazon during the 2010 drought. Photo from Pixabay. 1. Map showing the location of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in Peru (background) and a view of the Samiria River (foreground). Map from Google Maps; photo by Mark Goble, Flickr. Populations of aquatic animals like red-bellied piranhas (Pygocentrus nattereri) and pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), for example, dried up during the Amazon’s record-breaking drought in 2010 to just half of the population densities that scientists saw the year before. But in the five subsequent years between 2011 and 2015, when extreme floods raised water levels…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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