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 dry, thorny deciduous shrubland forest, located in central Argentina. The espinal has been extensively modified by large scale cattle ranching but remnants of the original flora remain.
The name "espinal" (thorny) refers to the thorny deciduous shrubland forest of the region between the flooded wetlands along the Paraná River to the east and the Sierras de Córdoba to the west.
The espinal is found within a broad arc of land in the interior of Argentina, to the north and west of Buenos Aires, extending from the northern Uruguay border west through Santa Fe to Cordoba, and south to the Atlantic coast south of Bahía Blanca. It includes central Santa Fe Province, Córdoba Province and the northern part of San Luis Province.
The Argentine espinal 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 predominantly silt-sized sediment that is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust, 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 fauna 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).
The World Wildlife Fund gives the Argentine espinal ecoregion the status of "Critical/Endangered". Conservation units include the Lihué Calel National Park, La Reforma University Reserve, Chacharramendi Provincial Reserve and Luro Provincial Reserve. Other protected areas are El Palmar National Park and Parque Atlántico Mar Chiquita.