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The Pantanal Ecology Project: Challenges and Progress of a Brazilian-German Scientific Collaboration

US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center
Publication Date
  • Scientific Cooperation
  • Pantanal
  • Mato Grosso
  • Wetland
  • Floodplain
  • Sustainable Management
  • Conservation
  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Geography


Since 1991, Brazilian and German researchers of the Pantanal Ecology Project (PEP [a cooperative effort between the Federal University of Mato Grosso, UFMT, and the Max-Planck-Institute of Limnology, MPIL]) have been studying the structures and functions of the various ecosystem types of the Pantanal. This work focused on delivering a solid scientific database for proposing management concepts and conservation plans, including analysis of environmental impacts and their socio-economic effects. The interdisciplinary approach is based on the flood pulse concept (Junk et al. 1989), which uses the annual hydrological changes as the driving force for patterns and processes in floodplain ecosystems. Limnologists, plant ecologists, zoologists, and geographers cooperate in selected landscape units such as floodplain lakes, an inundation gradient, a bird breeding site and the catchments of tributaries to the Pantanal. In the past 10 years, PEP has contributed more than 100 scientific publications on this issue (see homepage http://www.mpilploen. Scientific education is one important pillar for the sustainable transfer of acquired knowledge into society. In a training course at the UFMT set up by PEP in 1994, 150 students performed studies in wetland ecology to obtain their Ph.D., M.Sc., or B.Sc. degrees. During this time, laboratories and field stations were established to enhance scientific infrastructures. The Brazilian-German cooperation on the Pantanal has now become the intellectual nucleus for the establishment of the United Nations University – Pantanal Regional Environmental Program at the UFMT. Analyzing the effects of changes in the flooding regime in the Pantanal will form the focus of future cooperative research.

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