The Wattled Jacana is distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of South America and is common in just about any permanent and seasonally flooded freshwater wetlands. Floating vegetation is the limiting substrate for this species and will not occur in any wetland where this is absent. It uses its greatly elongated toes and claws to distribute its weight when walking on this notably submissive vegetation while foraging primarily for insects. The Wattled Jacana is highly polyandrous with females defending and breeding with 1-3+ males, which in turn each defend a small territory. Their nests are constructed to meet the needs of their floating habitat, and are often partially submerged. It is polytypic with six recognized subspecies differing in the amount of black in their plumage. Some authors have considered the Wattled Jacana to be conspecific with the similar Northern Jacana with which it narrowly overlaps in Panama. Considering that the local race of Wattled Jacana is the most phenotypically different race of its species from the Northern Jacana with no apparent integradation, it is best to treat these as separate species.