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Conservation of freshwater biodiversity in key areas of the Colombian Amazon

Portocarrero Aya, Marcela


Marcela Portocarrero Aya


I. G. (Ian G.) Cowx

M. (Michael), 1952 November 3 Elliott


Freshwater ecosystems maintain incredible ecological processes that support millions of species, including human beings. Important goods and services ranging from food and building materials to water cleansing, flood and erosion control, cycling of nutrients and flow of energy are provided. With expansion of the human population, the maintenance of economies based on extraction patterns and the dependence of people on natural resources (especially aquatic resources), the conservation of freshwater ecosystems is at serious risk.

Due to this crisis it is a priority to implement effective conservation strategies that ensure the mitigation and prevention of threats and contribute to the proper use of freshwater biodiversity. Currently, the identification of key conservation areas has become one of the most accepted strategies among conservationists and local inhabitants. This strategy is essential in a country like Colombia where Amazonian rivers and lakes hold approximately 3000 species of algae and fish, provide at least 80% of the animal protein consumed by local communities, support daily transport, communication and recreation activities, and are the main supply of drinking water.

This research constitutes the first attempt to systematically identify key conservation areas in the freshwater ecosystems of the South of the Colombian Amazonian Trapezium. This effort considered not only fine filter targets (species) as central elements of decision making, but coarse filter targets (habitats), ecosystem services, social benefits, and threats. Due to the complexity of the study area, a multi-criteria assessment constituted the best way to tackle the issues affecting a complex ecological, cultural, social, economic and political territory.

The use of conservation surrogates (species and habitats) constitutes an accurate conservation strategy to identify the dynamics between humans and the environment, enabling the identification of human stressors to the ecosystem.

Five of the ten sites assessed, the Tarapoto Lakes System (1), Caballo Cocha Lake (Peru) (2), Yahuarcaca Wetland System (3), Loreto River (4) and the Mocagua Island and surroundings (5), are considered critical areas for special protection. The remaining five sites, Patrullero Island and surroundings (6), Atacuari River (7), River Amazon – Naranjales area (8), River Amazon – San Jose area (9) and Yahuarcaca creek (10), although were not considered as important as the former ones, but their inclusion in all conservation initiatives is vital to ensure the continuity of all ecological processes and biodiversity maintenance in the area.

Conservation initiatives and management actions are proposed not only aiming to ensure the conservation of habitats and species, but also to ensure the protection of ecosystem services and the improvement of the livelihoods of local communities. These actions are addressed through nine working lines: Fisheries Management, Agricultural practices improvement, Habitat restoration, Environmental Education, Local Communities Empowerment, Spatial Planning, Stakeholders Network Enforcement, Scientific Research, and Central and local Governments organization and primordial actions. These lines and actions are intended to strengthen self-management processes of the local hydro-biological resources respecting both aquatic and terrestrial realms as well as the socio-cultural patterns of the region. This research attempts to make an effective contribution to the conservation of the freshwater biodiversity and the quality of life of local inhabitants of the Colombian Trapezium as well as to contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Fauna and objectives proposed in the Colombian and Amazonian Environmental Policies.


Portocarrero Aya, M. (2011). Conservation of freshwater biodiversity in key areas of the Colombian Amazon. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Biological sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Jan 1, 2011


Thesis (5.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2011 Portocarrero Aya, Marcela. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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