Conservation, Research and Education Opportunities International

The where and the why of the biodiversity of Iberá: Monitoring macrovertebrates of the second largest wetland in South America

C. De Angelo

The Iberá wetlands of Argentina are the second largest wetlands in South America (1.3 million hectares) and are a heterogeneous landscape and home to a rich diversity of large vertebrates. They are protected by the Provincial Iberá Reserve, slated to be a national park, but urgently in need of planning and management tools. This project will study the interactions between landscape conditions and the presence of macrovertebrates at relevant scales. We will conduct aerial surveys, developing distribution maps of large birds, mammals and reptiles. We will use GIS and satellite images to generate local and regional scale landscape variables: environmental conditions (e.g., different habitats), land use patterns (e.g., agriculture), and direct anthropogenic pressures (e.g., hunting). We will create models that combine the variable that best explain species distributions. With these models, we will generate predictive maps of habitat suitability for the different species. The maps and related variables will serve as input for land use planning and management of the future Iberá National Par. This information, along with aerial photographs and maps, will be translated into outreach materials to strengthen the Iberá Scenic Route project, fostering the development of sustainable ecotourism in the region. ($6,940)