Avulsive rivers in the hydrology of the pantanal wetland
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This chapter presents and discusses the avulsive nature of the Pantanal rivers and shows how the ever-changing drainage network influences the surface hydrology and ecology. Besides, the systemic portrait here outlined provides new insights concerning the Pantanal hydrodynamics, in its particularities and as a whole system. A simple model of the avulsion process is illustrated, and several realistic examples of the processes leading to river avulsions are shown and discussed. The north-to-south flood-pulse wave due to the presence of bottlenecks is further described in detail. This systemic approach allows identifying that the fluvial “avulsive and bottleneck” dynamics seasonally affects both local and regional ecohydrological processes. Moreover, it shows that avulsive processes are commonplace in Pantanal, and changes in land use, particularly in river headwaters in the highlands, accelerate the avulsions, making the sustainable use of the Pantanal lowland areas difficult.