We encourage you to learn more about the most bio-diverse country on the
planet. Read below to uncover the magic and mystery of Brazil's ecosystems.
Rainforest | Atlantic Rainforest
| Caatinga | Southern
Fields | Savanna | Coastal
Zone | Wetlands-Pantanal
its fragmentation and the relatively little area remaining, the
Atlantic Rainforest has extremely high levels of diversity, and
record numbers of endemic plants and animals in a very small land
area. Because of this, the hotspot is considered one of the top
five priority hotspots in the world". (Conservation International)
Amazon Rainforest, today, is the largest ecosystem of Brazil. It
covers an area equivalent to over half of the continental United
States of America, sprawling across the Brazilian states of Amazonas,
Roraima, Rondônia, Pará, Amapá, Acre, Mato Grosso
and Tocantins. Often referred to as the world's lungs, the trees
of the Amazon tower over 130 feet into the sky, dwarfing everything
below. Understanding the definition of the term 'rainforest' helps
us to understand how these trees reach such impressive stature.
A forest is considered a rainforest when it receives at least 80
inches of annual rainfall. The constant humidity is what helps this
ecosystem to flourish. Snaking through the heart of the Amazon Rainforest
is the Amazon River, which is both the widest and most voluminous
river on the planet. It accounts for 20% of the world's freshwater
supply! An estimated 15,000 species of fauna have been discovered
thus far, yet thousands have yet to be classified. This biodiversity
accounts for over one third of all living species on earth.
from parallel 5° south to 32° south, from the northeastern
turn in the coast of Brazil, down to the Uruguayan border, the Mata
Atlântica is a tropical rainforest that extends itself over
coastal and quasi-coastal mountains, slopes, plains and islands
as far out into the ocean as the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago.
There are five different categories this forest can be divided among.
These categories are Gallery Forest, Mangrove Forest, Low Montane
Forest, Montane Forest, and Restinga. Colonialization brought destruction
and despair to the Atlantic Rainforest. In fact, only about 7 percent
of the Atlantic Rainforest survived. The wonder in the case of Brazil
is that the pockets that continue to thrive may be the most precious
natural portion the region hosted in the first place, given that
their variety of animal and plant species surpasses any other area
on earth. The Mata Atlântica canopy is usually found between
100 and 130 feet high. Beneath its classic Palm trees there are
rich flowering shrubs which present this rainforest's distinctive
orchids, bromeliads and moss carpets, among various other life forms.
You can also watch golden lion tamarins and countless other tiny
primates literally hang in the company of jaguars, tapirs, sloths,
seven-colored tanagers, red-tailed parrots, and many other animals
that are equally as attractive to wildlife viewers. The Atlantic
Rainforest meets the Atlantic Ocean in fabulous places that invite
you to either relax or react upon knowing that turtles, dolphins,
manatees and various kinds of fish are often just a dive away.
the United State Southwest region to find a similarly spacious
semi-desert in the Northeast of Brazil, occupying approximately
one tenth of Brazilian territory. However, there are several
remarkable differences. The untamed Caatinga is almost completely
surrounded by either coastal strip or rainforest biomes, yet
becomes dry enough under the constant tropical sun to form
its Sahara-like oases, and to annually interrupt the course
of its rivers. Somehow, there is enough moisture to form rare
desert quick sands in renowned spots of this region. The vegetation
that dominates the Sertão is xerophytic, deciduous,
and open. In other words, the typical landscape is a mosaic
of tropical plants that shed leaves and flourish in a dry
environment, having adapted well to do without water. The
usual look of the semiarid sparse forest is that which it
acquires during the droughts: leafless. The appearance brought
the local indigenous peoples to name the region White Forest,
Caatinga in their language. The whitish dry plants seem even
more deceased than temperate trees in the height of winter.
Yet, they are alive, and only let go of their leaves as a
strategy to withstand the lack of water by reducing surface
evaporation. After the rainy season, the semiarid sparse forest
resembles a grand return to life. Life flourishes, flora and
fauna become more noticeable, as new leaves quickly cover
the trees and the ground turns into a green carpet. Only here
do you find the unimaginable contrast between a desert and
tropical rainforest in the same place at different times!
southern fields of Brazil are known by several different names,
including the pampas, campos sulinos, open savannah, or grasslands.
Pampa is a term of indigenous origins meaning the plain or flat
region, like the great plains of the United States. The terrain
typical of the Pampa Gaucho is generally characterized by waves
of flatland interrupted by buttes and mesas. However, the description
only coincides with one part of the southern fields, most commonly
found in the south of Rio Grande do Sul, and spreading into Argentina
and Uruguay, where the land is typically flat and characterized
by grasses and shrubs. Trees are scattered haphazardly across
the terrain, yet they offer little importance to the delicate
balance of the ecosystem. Other parts of the southern fields are
better described as marshes and savannahs. Compared to the more
arid portions of the region, lower temperatures and higher humidity
in the coastal marsh regions of the pampas manifests an area rich
and dense in flora. An abundance of rare fauna are also native
to the southern fields. Among these are the black-necked and coscoroba
swans, the southern screamer, the caiman alligator, flamingos,
pintail ducks, capivara, and many other intriguing species of
vertebrates and invertebrates. The grasslands are a frequent stop
on the migratory route from the Patagonia.
the Brazilian Savanna high plains, a 250-pound jaguar slinks through
the harsh tundra in search of a midnight snack. The spotted feline
blends in well between the black of night and the prevailing camouflage
of its home: the Cerrado, Brazil's version of the African savannas.
The regional name given to the biome, Cerrado, means semi-dense
vegetation, and uniquely characterizes a medley of vegetation
types that cover more than 1.2 million square miles of Brazil's
central plateau. It is second in size only to the Amazon Rainforest.
This mix of vegetation varies from open to dense, and contains
the highest level of plant diversity of any savanna worldwide
- an estimated 10,000 species, 44 percent of which are unique
to this region! Fire is an essential part of the delicate balance
of the Cerrado. Adaptation to fire keeps the grasses and woody
vegetation in equilibrium, and facilitates the recycling of nutrients
and germination in a place where most of the soil is naturally
lacking in nutrients. Besides the majestic jaguar, the Cerrado
is home to the marsh and pampas deer, the giant anteater and giant
armadillo, the maned wolf and the puma, among nearly 300 other
mammals and 935 species of birds.
remains a lot to be discovered about the ecological dynamics of
the Brazilian coast. Complex coastal systems are distributed alongside
the entire seashore, providing areas for the growth and reproduction
of several flora and fauna species". (World Wildlife Fund)
continental and island coasts come in many different forms: beaches
that evolve into sand dunes, forests, cliffs, mountains and/or sea
level land, and bay-less areas that advance into rivers, mangroves,
tidal wetlands, salt marshes, cliffs, flooded forests, and/or mountains.
The mosaic is as rich in terms of plant and animal species thanks
to differences in climatic and geological conditions across the
coastal stretch from Brazil's Caribbean border with French Guiana
to her temperate one with Uruguay.
"The Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland, a
seasonally flooded plain fed by the tributaries of the Paraguay
River. At 68,000 square miles, it is almost 10 times the size of
the Everglades". (The Nature Conservancy)
The Pantanal Freshwater Wetland has become famous for being the
world's largest ecosystem of its kind. Pantanal means swampland
in Portuguese. The Brazilian Pantanal is a seasonal freshwater wetland
covering more than 53 thousand square miles, an area larger than
the entire state of Alabama. It is home to nearly as many animals
as the African continent has in its areas of highest animal density.
In fact, the Brazilian freshwater wetlands hold the highest concentration
of fauna in the Americas, and one of the greatest on the planet.
In the Pantanal, the level and motion of the water are constantly
in flux. The regular rhythm of the rainy season dramatically alters
the riverbeds and redefines the scenery. The Pantanal is made up
of predominantly plain and gently undulating terrain, and is also
completely bound by higher land. Hence, as the rainy season occurs
there, the surrounding slopes pitch in their waters, water banks
overflow, and the Pantanal plains are flooded by a series of rivers,
connecting streams and ebb tides, interspersed with lagoons, inlets
and alluvial fans. As that takes place, life is reinvigorated and
lets you know so by offering a superb seasonal show. Several aquatic
plant species bloom, fish spawn and non-aquatic species cluster
as they try to survive another season by seeking refuge in the remaining
patches of dry land.
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