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Brazil Ecosystems

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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.

Amazon Rainforest | Atlantic Rainforest | Caatinga | Southern Fields | Savanna | Coastal Zone | Wetlands-Pantanal

AMAZON RAINFOREST


Amazon Rainforest Brazil

"Despite 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)

The 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.

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ATLANTIC RAINFOREST


Atlantic Rainforest Brazil

Stretching 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.

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CAATINGA

Flip 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!

Caatinga Brazil

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SOUTHERN FIELDS


Southern Fields

The 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.

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SAVANNA


Savanna Brazil

In 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.

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COASTAL ZONE
 

Coastal Zone Brazil

"There 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)

Brazil's 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.

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WETLANDS - PANTANAL


Wetlands - Pantanal Brazil

"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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