The Pampas (South America)

The Pampas (South America)

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 20:28

The Pampas are a natural region of vast fertile lowland plains in South America that extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes Mountains. These flat, fertile plains are a grassland biome that can be divided into three distinct ecoregions: the Uruguayan Savanna, the Humid Pampas and the Semiarid Pampas.

The Pampas (Las Pampas) are vast fertile lowland plains in South America that cover more than 750,000 sq km (289,577 sq mi) and include the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Córdoba; all of Uruguay; and the southernmost Brazilian State, Rio Grande do Sul. The name comes from a Quechua word meaning "flat surface."

The vast plains are a natural region, interrupted only by the low Ventana and Tandil hills in Argentina. These flat, fertile plains are a grassland biome that can be divided into three distinct ecoregions: the Uruguayan Savanna, the Humid Pampas and the Semiarid Pampas. The Pampas are bounded by the drier Argentine espinal grasslands, which form a semicircle around the north, west, and south of the Humid Pampas.

The climate of the Pampas is generally temperate, gradually giving way to a more subtropical climate in the north and to a semiarid climate on the western fringes. Precipitation ranges from 600 to 1,200 mm (23 to 47 in) that is more or less evenly distributed through the year, making the soils appropriate for agriculture. Winters are generally mild, but cold waves still occur. Springs are very variable; it is warmer than fall in most areas (especially in the west) but significantly colder along the Atlantic.

The Pampas served as background in Argentina’s gaucho literature, including such notable works as José Hernández’s El gaucho Martín Fierro (1872) and Ricardo Güiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra (1926), and also as the theme for a great deal of Argentina’s musical folklore. Since the late 20th century some parts of the Pampas have become noted grape-growing regions, particularly the region around Mendoza, which produces more than half the wines of South America.

The dominant vegetation types are grassy prairie and grass steppe in which numerous species of the grass genus Stipa are particularly conspicuous. "Pampas grass" (Cortaderia selloana) is an iconic species of the Pampas. Vegetation typically includes perennial grasses and herbs. Different strata of grasses occur because of gradients of water availability.

Herbivores of the pampas are the pampas deer, guanaco, gray brocket, dwarf mara, plains viscacha, Brazilian guinea pig, southern mountain cavy and coypu. The biggest predator of the region is the puma followed by the maned wolf, pampas fox, geoffroy's cat, lesser grison as well as the omnivorous white-eared opossum and molinas hog-nosed skunk.

Bird species of the pampas are ruddy-headed goose, pampas meadowlark, hudsonian godwit, maguari stork, white-faced ibis, white-winged coot, southern screamer, dot-winged crake, curve-billed reedhaunter, burrowing owl and the rhea.