Chilean Matorral Ecoregion (South America)

Chilean Matorral Ecoregion (South America)

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 21:39
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Located on the west coast of South America, the Chilean Matorral is a terrestrial ecoregion of central Chile. It contains the majority of Chile's population and is typically characterized by a temperate Mediterranean climate. It is home to Chile's renowned wine and agricultural regions.

Chilean Matorral

The Chilean Matorral is a terrestrial ecoregion of central Chile, located on the west coast of South America. It is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands and scrub biome.

The ecoregion constitutes a 100 km-wide strip extending along the central part of the Chilean coast. This long and narrow ecoregion is bound on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the southern Andes. It is home to Chile's renowned wine region and main agricultural region.

The Chilean Matorral is typically characterized by a temperate Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and dry summers. It is one of the world's five Mediterranean climate regions which are all located in the middle latitudes on the west coast of continents.

The ecoregion occupies central Chile between 32° and 37° south latitude. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Chilean Coastal Range lies parallel to the coast.

The Chilean Central Valley lies between the Coastal range and the Andes Mountains, which bound the Matorral ecoregion on the east. To the north is the extremely dry Atacama desert, which separates the Matorral from the tropical forests of northern South America.

The Chilean Matorral ecoregion is home to several plant communities.

  • Coastal Matorral is a low, soft scrubland which extends from La Serena in the north to Valparaiso in the south.
  • Matorral is a shrubland plant community composed of shrubs, small trees, cactus and bromeliads.
  • Espinal is a savanna plant community, composed of widely spaced clumps of trees with an understory of annual grasses.
  • Sclerophyll woodlands and forests were once more extensive but now exist in small patches in the coast ranges and Andean foothills. The sclerophyll forests and woodlands are composed predominantly of evergreen sclerophyll trees.

The ecoregion has various endemic plant species with affinities to the tropics, the Antarctic and the Andes. About 95% of the plant species are Chilean endemic, including Gomortega keule, Pitavia punctata, Nothofagus alessandrii and Jubaea chilensis.

The Chilean matorral has several threatened plant species; some endangered species are Adiantum gertrudis, Avellanita bustillosii and Beilschmiedia berteroana. There are seven endemic birds found at altitudes ranging from rocky slopes to arid scrub.

The Chilean Matorral contains the majority of Chile's population and largest cities. The Central valley is Chile's main agricultural region and the region is also subject to extensive grazing, logging, and urbanization. Of Chile's ecoregions, the Matorral is the least protected by national parks and preserves.