Avulsions drive ecosystem services and economic changes in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands

Rômullo O. Louzada, Ivan Bergier, Fabio O. Roque, Michael M. McGlue, Aguinaldo Silva, Mario L. Assine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Pantanal wetland is a mosaic of landscapes that brings together rich biodiversity with the valuable activities of fishing, tourism and ranching. Human occupation and land use in the headwaters have intensified the rate of channel avulsions in the lower reaches of the largest megafan on the Taquari River. This study evaluates the long-term changes of landscapes in the active depositional lobe of the Taquari megafan from the perspective of local communities of pantaneiros. Maps derived from multiple decades of multispectral Landsat data have proven useful for studying land cover changes through the relationship between dry (terrestrial vegetation and soil/dry pastures) and humid landscapes (open waters, aquatic macrophytes and wet soils), as well as through Sankey diagrams and spatiotemporal mapping with Boolean operations according to the rate of dryland recovery. We found that dryland recovery associated with an older and smaller avulsion (known as Zé da Costa) is analogous to that of a most recent and much larger avulsion (known as Caronal), which is still ongoing and has greater importance due to the scale of the impacts. Land value and fish capture depreciate as the partial Caronal avulsion still evolves, increasing the likelihood of environmental conflicts. While pantaneiros no longer profit from ecosystem services of provision (e.g., livestock or fishing), dryland recovery may deliver quantifiable ecosystem services of regulation. The strengthening of partnerships among stakeholders and the implementation of environmental compensation mechanisms are central for the best management of the Pantanal's megafans that ensure quality of life for all pantaneiros.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100057
JournalCurrent Research in Environmental Sustainability
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Avulsion
  • Distributary channel
  • Ecosystem services
  • Fluvial succession
  • Land restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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