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Causes and consequences of recent degradation of the Magdalena River basin, Colombia


Jorge Salgado

Jonathan B. Shurin


Laura Lopera-Congote


Fernando Jaramillo


Gabriela de Luna


Jorge Salgado Bonnet
Project Leader


The Magdalena River in Colombia is one of the world's largest (discharge = 7100 m3 s−1) tropical rivers, hosting > 170 aquatic vertebrate species. However, concise synthesis of the current ecological and environmental status is lacking. By documenting the anthropogenic stressors impacting the river on time scales ranging from centuries to decades, we found that the river system is subject to the compounding impacts of climate change, river impoundment, invasive alien species (IAS), catchment deforestation, and water pollution. We show that the Magdalena is a woefully understudied ecosystem relative to its critical importance to Colombia's economy, culture, and biodiversity compared with other similarly sized tropical rivers. We emphasize the need for research on (1) IAS population and ecological dynamics, (2) river damming and its links with IAS and climate change, and (3) land-use changes as well as identifying sources of water pollution and strategies for mitigation.


Salgado, J., Shurin, J. B., Vélez, M. I., Link, A., Lopera-Congote, L., González-Arango, C., …de Luna, G. (2022). Causes and consequences of recent degradation of the Magdalena River basin, Colombia. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 7(6), 451-465.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 26, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Aug 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 9, 2022
Journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Electronic ISSN 2378-2242
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 6
Pages 451-465
Keywords Aquatic Science; Oceanography
Public URL
Publisher URL


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