Caatinga Ecoregion and Biome (South America)

Caatinga Ecoregion and Biome (South America)

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 15:04
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Caatinga is the largest dry forest region in South America and also one of the richest dry forests in the world, providing habitat habitat for an array of flora and fauna species. This semiarid biome is highly threatened due to exposure to land conversion for agricultural and cattle ranching.

Caatinga is a type of desert vegetation. Caatinga is also the name for the ecoregion that is characterized by this vegetation. The ecoregion is located in interior northeastern Brazil.

Caatinga is a semiarid biome and the largest dry forest region in South America. It is one of the richest dry forests in the world. Caatinga is a Tupi word meaning "white forest".

Caatinga encompasses the drier part of northeastern Brazil (Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Sergipe, Alagoas, Bahia, and northern Minas Gerais).

To the northwest, the Caatinga is bounded by the Maranhão Babaçu forests; to the west and southwest, the Atlantic dry forests and Cerrado savannas; to the east, the humid Atlantic coastal forests; and to the north and northeast, the Atlantic Ocean.

Map showing the Caatinga biome
Biome map of Brazil

 

This large scrubland in northeastern Brazil provides habitat for an array of flora and fauna species; over 1,200 species of vascular plants occur here, of which thirty percent is endemic.

This xeric shrubland and thorn forest consists primarily of small, thorny trees that shed their leaves seasonally. Cacti, thick-stemmed plants, thorny brush, and arid-adapted grasses make up the ground layer. Most vegetation experiences a brief burst of activity during the three-month long rainy season.

The biome's biodiversity is highly threatened due to exposure to land conversion for agricultural and cattle ranching. Particularly rich in avifauna, over three hundred and fifty species are found here including two of the ten most threatened birds in the world, the indigo macaw and little blue macaw.

The biodiversity of Caatinga includes at least 185 fish species, 44 lizards, 9 amphisbaenians, 47 snakes, 4 turtles, 3 crocodylia, 49 amphibians and 80 mammals.

Distinctive and endemic species of plants include: Godmania dardanoi, Cordia globosa, Billbergia fosteriana, Cereus jamacaru, Melocactus oreas, Pilosocereus gounellei, Copernicia prunifera, and Ziziphus joazeir.

Distinctive species of birds include: Lear's macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), Spix macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), and Moustached Woodcreeper (Xiphocolaptes falcirostris); mammals, a spiny rat (Proechimys yonenagae).

Distinctive species of lizards include: Tropidurus amathites, Tropidurus divaricatus, and Tropidurus cocorobensis.

A large area of the Caatinga ecoregion is ranked today as highly threatened by desertification. In contrast with the huge proportion of the area under strong human pressure, less than 1 percent of the ecoregion is protected in parks or reserves.