Author: Charles W. Heckman
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
There are many famous wetlands in the world that have been deemed important for the homeostasis ofthe biosphere and accorded some form ofprotected status in view of the richness of their flora and fauna. T}1e Pantanal, located almost directly in the center ofthe South American continent, is among the largest such wetlands in the world. It is, in fact, the largest wetland that is still in a nearly natural state and has not been extensively modified by man for agriculture. The extent of the region covered by flood waters at the end of each rainy season varies from year to year, sometimes considerably, so estimates of the exact area it occupies have varied enormously. The size of the 2 2 Pantanal has been reported to be between 80,000 km (Bonetto, 1975) and 250,000 km (Tundisi and Matsumura-Tundisi, 1985). The most co~on1y accepted estimates at the present time are approximately 130,000 to 140,000 km , supported by estimates made from Nimbus-7 satellite observations (Hamilton et al. , 1996). However, Por (1995) suggested that the area extending into Bolivia and Paraguay has not been satisfactorily 2 surveyed, leading him to accept the figure of 200,000 km as the area of the entire Pantanal, ineluding all of its extensions. The main reason for the year to year variation in the extent of the flooding is the considerable difference in timing of the rainfall on the watershed.