Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

River Network Rearrangements in Amazonia Shake Biogeography and Civil Security

Version 1 : Received: 8 September 2018 / Approved: 10 September 2018 / Online: 10 September 2018 (11:59:52 CEST)

How to cite: Ruokolainen, K.; Massaine Moulatlet, G.; Zuquim, G.; Hoorn, C.; Tuomisto, H. River Network Rearrangements in Amazonia Shake Biogeography and Civil Security. Preprints 2018, 2018090168 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201809.0168.v1). Ruokolainen, K.; Massaine Moulatlet, G.; Zuquim, G.; Hoorn, C.; Tuomisto, H. River Network Rearrangements in Amazonia Shake Biogeography and Civil Security. Preprints 2018, 2018090168 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201809.0168.v1).

Abstract

The scene for regional biogeography and human settlements in Central Amazonia is set by the river network, which presumably consolidated in the Pliocene. However, we present geomorphological and sediment chronological data showing that the river network has been anything but stable. Even during the last 50 kyr, the tributary relationships have repeatedly changed for four major rivers, together corresponding to one third of the discharge of the Amazon. The latest major river capture event converted the Japurá from a tributary of the Rio Negro to a tributary of the Amazon only 1000 years ago. Such broad-scale lability implies that rivers cannot have been as efficient biogeographical dispersal barriers as has generally been assumed, but that their effects on human societies can have been even more profound. Climate change and deforestation scenarios predict increasing water levels during peak floods, which will likely increase the risk of future river avulsions. This may have disastrous consequences for the local human societies, especially in those areas where the current floodplains are at only marginally lower elevations than the nearest water divide. We suggest that the prevailing paradigm of rivers as principal structuring elements of Amazonian biogeography needs to be re-evaluated, and that land use planning and civil risk assessment should take the possibility of river avulsions into account.

Supplementary and Associated Material

https://osf.io/uwp9n/: Supplementary figures

Subject Areas

avulsion, civil defence, dispersal barrier, flood, Rio Madeira, rain forest, species distribution

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