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Revista chilena de historia natural

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CORREA-ARANEDA, FRANCISCO; URRUTIA, JONATHAN  and  FIGUEROA, RICARDO. Knowledge status and principal threats to freshwater forested wetlands of Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2011, vol.84, n.3, pp.325-340. ISSN 0716-078X.

Forested freshwater wetlands are naturally flooded or saturated areas with hydrophilic forest vegetation which is worldwide distributed and is known as "pitrantos, hualves o hualhues" in Chile. This paper gives to know the state of art of these wetlands in Chile, through a description of its biological, physical-chemical and hydro-dynamic characteristics, identifying the main threats to its conservation and the main research needs. These environments can be permanently or temporarily flooded, depending on microclimatic, biological and edaphical processes. Its vegetation is dominated by species of the family Myrtaceae. Both hydric behavior and vegetation structure are major aspects that directly determine the water physical-chemical characteristics and the distribution patterns of biological communities. Chile's forested wetlands have been studied broadly from a vegetation and floristic point of view, but basic studies on limnology, hydrology or fauna are lacking, which results on a total lack of knowledge about its functioning at the ecosystem level and the effects that human activities on basins (e.g., agricultural, stockbreeding, forest) could have on its hydric and biological components. In spite of being ecosystems of great cultural and ecological significance, important weakness can be identified on its state of conservation, as they are not protected by conservation tools that exist in Chile nowadays. Therefore, forested wetlands emerge as unique ecosystems of global importance, nearly unknown in Chile and of great interest on developing an important number of research lines, even though their high susceptibility facing anthropic disturbances threaten their continuance.

Keywords : basins; Chile; forested wetland; fresh water; hydrophyte vegetation.

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