Amazon flooded forest

Country/Territory Brazil
Area 140,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 200m
Priority high
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge poor

General characteristics

This EBA comprises the Amazon's seasonally inundated tropical evergreen forests in Brazil, a major part of this huge river basin. The area covered follows the course and floodplains of the lower Solimões, lower Madeira and lower Negro eastward along the Amazon at least as far as its confluence with the Xingu-and it may extend to the islands in the Amazon's mouth as there are records for one of the restricted-range species from Ilha Mexiana (see ‘Restricted-range species', below). The forests are divided into two main types: várzea forest occurs on the floodplains of the major white-water (sediment and mineral-rich) rivers of the Amazon basin, so in this EBA it is the predominant vegetation, being found on the Solimões-Amazon and on the lower Madeira; igapó forest occurs primarily on sandy soils bordering mineral-poor black-water or clear-water rivers, and in this EBA is found only on the Negro and its tributaries.

Restricted-range species

The restricted-range species are all poorly known, each being found at just a handful of localities. For Nonnula amaurocephala there are three historical records along the lower Solimões and more recent observations on the lower Unini and Jaú, both black-water tributaries of the Negro (Whittaker et al. 1995). Both of the recent records were made in igapó forest, although the historical records on the white-water Solimões presumably came from várzea. Picumnus varzeae is a várzea species, which is found from the very lower reaches of the Madeira along the Amazon to westernmost Pará state and including the lower Jamundá river (Short 1982). Myrmotherula klagesi has been found at sites on the Anavilhanas archipelago in the Negro north of Manaus, and 600 km east of there along both banks of the Amazon and the mouth of the Tapajós near Santarém; this canopy species inhabits the borders of flooded forest especially on river islands (Ridgely and Tudor 1994). The range of Cranioleuca muelleri overlaps with the other species only in its western part from near the mouth of the Tapajós to Jamundá. Museum specimens show that it is distributed further east in Amapá state and Ilha Mexiana (Vaurie 1980) where vegetation maps show the predominant habitats to be savanna and flooded grassland, but, as it is unknown in life, its habitat requirements are unclear (Ridgely and Tudor 1994).

Species IUCN Category
Chestnut-headed Nunlet (Nonnula amaurocephala) LC
Varzea Piculet (Picumnus varzeae) EN
Klages's Antwren (Myrmotherula klagesi) VU
Scaled Spinetail (Cranioleuca muelleri) EN

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
BR004 Campinas e Várzeas do Rio Branco Brazil
BR009 Ilha de Marajó Brazil
BR010 Reserva Biológica do Rio Trombetas Brazil
BR011 Várzeas de Monte Alegre Brazil
BR021 Parque Nacional do Jaú Brazil
BR022 Várzeas do Médio Rio Amazonas Brazil
BR024 Arquipélago de Anavilhanas Brazil

Threat and conservation

Intensive logging and selective exploitation of the tree Ceiba pentandra are accelerating deforestation in the várzea forest of the Amazon basin and there appears already to be an extensive industrial timber infrastructure to maintain the logging. Some of the floodplains are being converted for cattle-ranching and oil-palm plantations, especially north of Manaus (Dinerstein et al. 1995, WWF/IUCN 1997).

The records of Nonnula amaurocephala from the lower Unini and Jaú rivers are both within the extensive Jaú National Park (22,720 km2). The Anavilhanas archipelago, site of the only recent sightings of Myrmotherula klagesi, lies inside the Anavilhanas Ecological Station (3,350 km2), which is itself now within the Rio Negro State Park (4,360 km2), established in 1995. Jaú National Park and Rio Negro State Park are adjacent to one another, and the huge area they form is further extended by a 12,300-km2 buffer zone (Conservation Biology 1995, 9: 1,353). However, there is apparently no protected area further east on the lower Amazon which could protect the other restricted-range species of this EBA. Cranioleuca muelleri which is currently listed as being of low concern should, in view of the lack of recent records, be classified as Data Deficient.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Amazon flooded forest. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020.