The Info List - Amazon Basin

--- Advertisement ---

(i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

The AMAZON BASIN is the part of South America
South America
drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The Amazon drainage basin covers an area of about 7,500,000 km2 (2,900,000 sq mi), or roughly 40 percent of the South American continent. It is located in the countries of Bolivia
, Brazil
, Colombia
, Ecuador
, Guyana
, Peru
, Suriname
and Venezuela

Most of the basin is covered by the Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
, also known as Amazonia. With a 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) area of dense tropical forest , this is the largest rainforest in the world.


* 1 Geography * 2 Plant life

* 3 Animal life

* 3.1 Mammals * 3.2 Birds * 3.3 Reptiles * 3.4 Amphibians * 3.5 Fish
* 3.6 Insects

* 4 Climate
and seasons * 5 Human lifestyle * 6 River commerce * 7 Agriculture * 8 Languages * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links


The Amazon River
Amazon River
rises in the Andes
Mountains at the west of the basin with its main tributary the Marañón River in Peru. It is usually considered to be the second longest river in the world . However, a team of Brazilian scientists has claimed that the Amazon is the longest river in the world. It covers about 6,400 km before draining into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
. The Amazon and its tributaries form the largest volume of water. The Amazon accounts for about 20% of the total water carried to the oceans by rivers. Some of the Amazon rainforests are deforested because of the increasing of cattle ranches and soy beans field.

The highest point in the watershed of the Amazon is the peak of Yerupajá at 6,635 m (21,768 ft).

The Amazon basin
Amazon basin
formerly flowed west to Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
until the Andes
formed, causing the basin to flow eastward towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Politically the basin is divided into the Brazilian Amazônia Legal , the Peruvian Amazon , the Amazon region of Colombia
and parts of Bolivia
, Ecuador
and the Venezuelan state of Amazonas .


Main article: Amazon rainforest
Amazon rainforest

_ This section DOES NOT CITE ANY SOURCES . Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources . Unsourced material may be challenged and removed . (February 2017)_ _(Learn how and when to remove this template message )_

Aerial view of part of the Amazon rainforest.

Plant growth is dense and its variety of animal inhabitants is comparatively high due to the heavy rainfall and the dense and extensive evergreen and coniferous forests . Little sunlight reaches the ground due to the dense roof canopy by plants. The ground remains dark and damp and only shade tolerant vegetation will grow here. Orchids and bromeliads exploit trees and other plants to get closer to the sunlight. They grow hanging onto the branches or tree trunks with aerial roots , not as parasites but as epiphytes . Species of tropical trees native to the Amazon include Brazil
nut , rubber tree and Assai palm .



More than 1,400 species of mammals are found in the Amazon, the majority of which are species of bats and rodents . Its larger mammals include the jaguar , ocelot , capybara and South American tapir .


Main article: Birds of the Amazon

About 1500 bird species inhabit the Amazon Basin. The biodiversity of the Amazon and the sheer number of diverse bird species is given by the number of different bird families that reside in these humid forests. An example of such would be the cotinga family, to which the Guianan cock-of-the-rock belong. Birds such as toucans , and hummingbirds are also found here. Macaws are famous for gathering by the hundreds along the clay cliffs of the Amazon River. In the western Amazon hundreds of macaws and other parrots descend to exposed river banks to consume clay on an almost daily basis, the exception being rainy days.


The green anaconda inhabits the shallow waters of the Amazon and the emerald tree boa and boa constrictor live in the Amazonian tree tops.

Many reptiles species are illegally collected and exported for the international pet trade. Live animals are the fourth largest commodity in the smuggling industry after drugs, diamonds, and weapons.


More than 1,000 species of amphibians swim and are found in the Amazon. Unlike temperate frogs which are mostly limited to habitats near water, tropical frogs are most abundant in the trees and relatively few are found near bodies of water on the forest floor. The reason for this occurrence is quite simple: frogs must always keep their skin moist since almost half of their respiration in carried out through their skin. The high humidity of the rainforest and frequent rainstorms gives tropical frogs infinitely more freedom to move into the trees and escape the many predators of rainforest waters. The differences between temperate and tropical frogs extend beyond their habitat. _ Red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri_) is a species of piranha . This species lives in the Amazon River
Amazon River
basin, coastal rivers of northeastern Brazil, and the basins of the Paraguay , Paraná and Essequibo Rivers .


About 2,500 fish species are known from the Amazon basin
Amazon basin
and it is estimated that more than 1,000 additional undescribed species exist. This is more than any other river basin on Earth, and Amazonia is the center of diversity for Neotropical fishes . About 45% (more than 1,000 species) of the known Amazonian fish species are endemic to the basin. The remarkable species richness can in part be explained by the large differences between the various parts of the Amazon basin, resulting in many fish species that are endemic to small regions. For example, fauna in clearwater rivers differs from fauna in white and blackwater rivers , fauna in slow moving sections show distinct differences compared to that in rapids , fauna in small streams differ from that in major rivers, and fauna in shallow sections show distinct differences compared to that in deep parts. By far the most diverse orders in the Amazon are Characiformes (43% of total fish species in the Amazon) and Siluriformes (39%), but other groups with many species include Cichlidae (6%) and Gymnotiformes (3%).

The Amazon supports very large fisheries, including well-known species of large catfish (such as _ Brachyplatystoma _, which perform long breeding migrations up the Amazon), arapaima and tambaqui , and is also home to many species that are important in the aquarium trade , such as the oscar , discus , angelfish , _Corydoras_ catfish and neon tetra . Although the true danger they represent often is greatly exaggerated, the Amazon basin
Amazon basin
is home to several feared fish species such as piranhas (including the famous red-bellied ), electric eel , river stingrays and candiru . Several cavefish species in the genus _ Phreatobius _ are found in the Amazon, as is the cave-dwelling _ Astroblepus pholeter _ in the far western part of the basin (Andean region). The Tocantins basin, arguably not part of the Amazon basin, has several other cavefish species. The deeper part of the major Amazonian rivers are always dark and a few species have adaptions similar to cavefish (reduced pigement and eyes). Among these are the knifefish _ Compsaraia _ and _ Orthosternarchus _, some _ Cetopsis _ whale catfish (especially _C. oliveirai_), some _ Xyliphius _ and _ Micromyzon _ banjo catfish, and the loricariid catfish _Loricaria spinulifera_, _L. pumila_, _ Peckoltia pankimpuju _, _Panaque bathyphilus _ and _ Panaqolus nix_ (these five also occur in "normal" forms of shallower waters). The perhaps most unusual habitat used by Amazonian fish is land. The splash tetra is famous for laying its eggs on plants above water, keeping them moist by continuously splashing on them, the South American lungfish can survive underground in a mucous cocoon during the dry season, some small rivulid killifish can jump over land between water sources (sometimes moving relatively long distances, even uphill) and may deliberately jump onto land to escape aquatic predators, and an undescribed species of worm-like _Phreatobius_ catfish lives in waterlogged leaf litter near (not in) streams.

Some of the major fish groups of the Amazon basin
Amazon basin

* Order Gymnotiformes : Neotropical electric fishes * Order Characiformes : characins, tetras and relatives * Family Potamotrygonidae : river stingrays * Family Arapaimidae : bonytongues * Family Loricariidae : suckermouth catfishes * Family Callichthyidae : armored catfishes * Family Pimelodidae
: pimelodid catfishes * Family Trichomycteridae : pencil catfishes * Family Auchenipteridae : driftwood catfishes * Subfamily Cichlinae : pike cichlids, peacock cichlids and relatives * Subfamily Geophaginae : Eartheaters and Neotropical dwarf cichlid * Subfamily Poeciliinae : guppies and relatives


See also: List of butterflies of the Amazon River
Amazon River
basin and the Andes

More than 90% of the animal species in the Amazon are insects , of which about 40% are beetles (Coleoptera constituting almost 25% of all known types of animal life-forms ).

Whereas all of Europe
has some 321 butterfly species, the Manú National Park in Peru
(4000 hectare-survey) has 1300 species, while Tambopata National Reserve (5500 hectare-survey) has at least 1231 species.


The Amazon River
Amazon River
basin has a low-water season, and a wet season during which, the rivers flood the adjacent, low-lying forests. The climate of the basin is generally hot and humid . In some areas, however, the winter months (June–September) can bring cold snaps, fueled by Antarctic
winds travelling along the adjacent Andes
mountain range. Such cold conditions can be devastating for some of the region's tropical plant and animal species.


A floating village in Iquitos
, Peru

Amazonia is sparsely populated . There are scattered settlements inland, but most of the population lives in a few larger cities on the banks of the Amazon and other major rivers, such as in Iquitos
, Peru , and Manaus
and Belém ( Brazil
). In many regions, the forest has been cleared for soya bean plantations and ranching (the most extensive non-forest use of the land); some of the inhabitants harvest wild rubber latex , and Brazil
nuts . This is a form of extractive farms, where the trees are not cut down. These are relatively sustainable operations in contrast to lumbering or agriculture dependent on clearing the rainforest.

The largest organization fighting for the indigenous peoples in this area is COICA . It is a supra organization encompassing all indigenous rights organizations working in the Amazon basin
Amazon basin
area, and covers the people living in several countries.


The river is the principal path of transportation for people and produce in the regions, with transport ranging from balsa rafts and dugout canoes to hand built wooden river craft and modern steel hulled craft.


Seasonal floods excavate and redistribute nutrient-rich silt onto beaches and islands, enabling dry-season riverside agriculture of rice, beans, and corn on the river's shoreline without the addition of fertilizer, with additional slash and burn agriculture on higher floodplains. Fishing provides additional food year round, and free-range chickens need little or no food beyond what they can forage locally. Charcoal
made largely from forest and shoreline deadfall is produced for use in urban areas. Exploitation of bush meat , particularly deer and turtles is common. _ Deforestation
and increased road-building bring human encroachment upon wild areas, increased resource extraction and threats to biodiversity .

Extensive deforestation , particularly in Brazil
, is leading to the extinction of known and unknown species, reducing biological diversity and adversely impacting soil, water, and air quality. A final part of the deforestation process is the large-scale production of charcoal for industrial processes such as steel manufacturing. Soils within the region are generally shallow and cannot be used for more than a few seasons without the addition of imported fertilizers and chemicals.


The most widely spoken language in the Amazon is Portuguese , followed closely by Spanish . On the Brazilian side Portuguese is spoken by at least 98% of the population, whilst in the Spanish-speaking countries a large number of speakers of indigenous languages are present, though Spanish is predominant.

There are hundreds of native languages still spoken in the Amazon, most of which are spoken by only a handful of people, and thus are critically endangered . One of the more widely spoken indigenous languages in the Amazon is Nheengatu , which descends from the ancient Tupi language , originally spoken in the coastal and central regions of Brazil. It was brought to its present location along the Rio Negro by Brazilian colonizers who, until the mid-17th century, primarily used Tupi rather than the official Portuguese to communicate. Besides modern Nheengatu, other languages of the Tupi family are spoken there, along with other language families like , Arawak , Karib , Arawá , Yanomamo , Matsés and others.


* Geography portal * Earth
sciences portal * Latin America
Latin America
portal * Brazil

* Amazon biome
Amazon biome
* Amazon Conservation Association * Amazon Conservation Team * Deforestation
of the Amazon rainforest
Amazon rainforest
* Jaguars south of the Amazon River
Amazon River
* Llanos de Moxos * Llanos de Moxos (archaeology) * Panthera onca onca * Peruvian jaguar * Ucayali Peneplain


* ^ Goulding, M., Barthem, R. B. and Duenas, R. (2003). _The Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon_, Smithsonian Books ISBN 1-58834-135-6

* ^ Parsons, James J. (25 December 2013). "Amazon River". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
. Retrieved 8 June 2014. * ^ Roach, John (18 June 2007). "Amazon Longer Than Nile River, Scientists Say". National Geographic. * ^ "Amazon river flowed into the Pacific millions of years ago". _ Mongabay _. 24 October 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2014. * ^ Butler, Rhett (31 July 2012). "Diversities of Image". _Mongabay.com_. Retrieved 20 December 2014. * ^ Munn, C. A. 1994. Macaws: winged rainbows. National Geographic, 185, 118–140. * ^ Brightsmith, D. J. 2004. Effects of weather on parrot geophagy in Tambopata, Peru. Wilson Bulletin, 116, 134–145. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Junk, W.J.; M.G.M. Soares; and P.B. Bayley (2007), "Freshwater fishes of the Amazon River
Amazon River
Basin: their biodiversity, fisheries, and habitats", _Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management_, 10 (2): 153–173, doi :10.1080/14634980701351023 CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ James S. Albert; Roberto E. Reis (8 March 2011). _Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes_. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-520-26868-5 . Retrieved 28 June 2011. * ^ Reis, R.E.; J.S. Albert; F. Di Dario; M.M. Mincarone; P. Petry; and L.A. Rocha (2016). Fish
biodiversity and conservation in South America. Journal of Fish
Biology 89(1): 12–47. * ^ Stewart, D. J., M. Ibarra, and R.. Barriga-Salazar (2002). _Comparison of Deep-River and Adjacent Sandy-Beach Fish
Assemblages in the Napo River basin, Eastern Ecuador. Copeia 2002(2): 333–343_ * ^ Mendonça, F. P., W. E. Magnusson, J. Zuanon and C. M. Taylor. (2005) _Relationships between habitat characteristics and fish assemblages in small streams of Central Amazonia._ Copeia 2005(4): 751–764 * ^ Duncan, W.P.; and Fernandes, M.N. (2010). _Physicochemical characterization of the white, black, and clearwater rivers of the Amazon Basin and its implications on the distribution of freshwater stingrays (Chondrichthyes, Potamotrygonidae)._ PanamJAS 5(3): 454–464. * ^ _A_ _B_ Romero, Aldemaro, ed. (2001). _The Biology of Hypogean Fishes_. Developments in environmental biology of fishes. 21. ISBN 978-1402000768 . * ^ Fenolio, Danté (2016). "Life in the Dark: Illuminating Biodiversity
in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth". Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1421418636 . * ^ Lujan, Nathan. K.; Chamon, Carine. C. (2008). _Two new species of Loricariidae (Teleostei: Silurifomes) from main channels of the upper and middle Amazon Basin, with discussion of deep water specialization in loricariids_. _Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters_. 19. pp. 271–282. * ^ Thomas, M.R.; and L.H.R. Py-Daniel (2008). "Three new species of the armored catfish genus Loricaria (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from river channels of the Amazon basin". _Neotrop. ichthyol_. 6 (3). doi :10.1590/S1679-62252008000300011 . CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ Cramer, C.A.; and L.H.R. Py-Daniel (2015). "A new species of Panaqolus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the rio Madeira basin with remarkable intraspecific color variation". _Neotrop. ichthyol_. 13 (3). doi :10.1590/1982-0224-20140099 . CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ Howard, B.C. (27 September 2013). Fish
That Lay Eggs Out of the Water: Freshwater Species of the Week. National Geographic. Retrieved 30 April 2017. * ^ SeriouslyFish. "Lepidosiren paradoxa". Retrieved 30 April 2017.

* ^ Vermeulen, F. "The genus Rivulus". itrainsfishes.net. Retrieved 6 May 2017. * ^ Turko, A.J.; and P.A. Wright (2015). "Evolution, ecology and physiology of amphibious killifishes (Cyprinodontiformes)". _Journal of Fish
Biology_. 87: 815–835. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ Planet Catfish. "Cat-eLog: Heptapteridae: _Phreatobius_: _Phreatobius_ sp. (1)". Planet Catfish. Retrieved 30 April 2017. * ^ Henderson, P.A.; and I. Walker (1990). "Spatial organization and population density of the fish community of the litter banks within a central Amazonian blackwater stream". _Journal of Fish Biology_. 37: 401–411. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link ) * ^ Powell (2009) * ^ Rosenzweig, Michael L. (1995). _Species Diversity in Space and Time_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-49952-1 . * ^ Hunt, T.; Bergsten, J.; Levkanicova, Z.; Papadopoulou, A.; John, O. St.; Wild, R.; Hammond, P. M.; Ahrens, D.; Balke, M.; Caterino, M. S.; Gomez-Zurita, J.; Ribera, I.; Barraclough, T. G.; Bocakova, M.; Bocak, L.; Vogler, A. P.; et al. (2007). "A Comprehensive Phylogeny of Beetles Reveals the Evolutionary Origins of a Superradiation". _Science_. 318 (5858): 1913–1916. Bibcode :2007Sci...318.1913H. PMID 18096805 . doi :10.1126/science.1146954 . * ^ Petherick, Anna (2010). "Cold empties Bolivian rivers of fish". _Nature_. doi :10.1038/news.2010.437 .


* Dematteis, Lou; Szymczak, Kayana (June 2008). _Crude Reflections/Cruda Realidad: Oil, Ruin and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest_. City Lights Publishers. ISBN 978-0-87286-472-6 . * Acker, Antoine. "Amazon" (2015). University Bielefeld – Center for InterAmerican Studies.


* Herndon and Gibbon