The Argentine Espinal ecoregion is a thorny deciduous shrubland forest, located in central Argentina, extending from central Santa Fe through the province of Córdoba to the north of San Luis. It has been extensively modified by large scale cattle ranching.
The Argentine Espinal ecoregion is a thorny deciduous shrubland forest, located in central Argentina, extending from central Santa Fe through the province of Córdoba to the north of San Luis. It has been extensively modified by large scale cattle ranching but remnants of the original flora remain.
The espinal ecoregion can be divided into two subregions, the carob subregion in the north and the caldén subregion in the south. In the northern section, the climate is warm and wet with summer rains. As happens with other phytogeographic provinces, it has great temperature variations and high average precipitation. It is a mostly flat plain with low hilly areas. Soils are loessoid or sandy.
The vegetation is characteristic of deciduous xerophytic forests, palm groves, grassy savannas, grassy steppes, bushy steppes. Espinal is characterized by the dominance of arboreal species of the genus Prosopis in the climax communities. Mimosoideae leguminosae of the genera Prosopis and Acacia are generally predominant, accompanied by other "chaco type" genera such as Jodina, Celtis, Schinus, Geoffroea, Atamisquea, and others.
There are three species of endemic birds. The Mar Chiquita lake and the Dulce River swamps are designated a Ramsar wetland that is a key site for endangered neotropical birds. The wetland supports a rich and diverse fauna with 138 known species of birds, including large breeding groups of Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis).
Native species include guanacos, greater rheas, and giant anteaters. Endangered amphibians include blunt-headed salamander (Ambystoma amblycephalum). Endangered birds include yellow cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata), Chaco eagle (Buteogallus coronatus) and Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis).