Hydrodynamics and seed dispersal in the lower Amazon

Alan Cavalcanti da Cunha, Karen Mustin, Eldo Silva dos Santos, Éwerton Wânderson Gonçalves dos Santos, Marcelino Carneiro Guedes, Helenilza Ferreira Albuquerque Cunha, Paulo Cesar Colonna Rosman, Leonel da Silveira Lobo Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The transport of seeds by water, i.e. hydrochory, is a key mechanism of long-distance dispersal constrained by the attributes of the seed and hydrodynamics. In the freshwater Amazon estuary, river hydrodynamics are influenced by seasonal changes in precipitation and tidal cycles. It is not known to what extent a hydrodynamic model may be able to predict seed dispersal. Here we parameterised a simulation model (SisBaHia) to estimate maximum seed dispersal distances per tidal cycle, which were then compared with data from in situ seed dispersal experiments. The study was conducted along a 27-km stretch of a tributary of the Amazon estuary, using the seeds of a widely distributed riparian tree—Carapa guianensis (Meliaceae). Based on the simulation model, maximum potential seed dispersal distance was higher in the rainy season (c. 8.7 km) when compared with the dry season (5.6 km), for one tidal cycle (12 hr). The seeds of C. guianensis were dispersed further during the ebb than flood tide during the rainy season, the period of seed dispersal. Average dispersal distances observed in seed dispersal experiments conducted during the rainy season, and those predicted by SisBaHia for the same period were within the same order of magnitude. The results of this study confirm that the period of higher precipitation provides favourable hydrological conditions for hydrochory in the Amazon river-estuary complex. The fact that the time taken for the tide to fall is longer in relation to the time taken for it to rise also favours the arrival of the seeds in the main channel of the Amazon, thereby increasing the probability of long-distance dispersal events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1721-1729
Number of pages9
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Carapa guianensis
  • long-distance dispersal
  • modelling
  • simulation
  • tidal river

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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