Semi-arid Pampas Ecoregion (Argentina)
The Semi-arid Pampas ecoregion is located in the center of Argentina. The predominant vegetation consists of grasslands with some shrubs. Few endemic plants are in the ecoregion, but the area has a high biodiversity. Most of the natural vegetation has been replaced by agriculture and cattle ranching.
The Semi-arid Pampas ecoregion is located in the center of Argentina, within the Buenos Aires, Pampa, San Luis, and Cordoba Provinces. It is part of the larger Pampas (Las Pampas) lowland plains region.
This temperate grassland covers an area of approximately 327,000 sq km (126,000 sq mi). The Humid Pampas grassland lies east, while the drier Argentine Espinal (thorny) grassland lies west.
The Semi-arid Pampas consist of grasslands with some shrubs. This region has sandy or sandy loess soils with frequent old and present-day dune relief. The rainfall accumulates in extensive lagoons. The Colorado and Salado are the two main rivers that traverse the region.
The climate is dry, with annual precipitation averaging around 700 mm (27.5 in).
Flora and Fauna
The predominant vegetation is steppe grass, which forms thick mats in the grasslands. These areas dry out during the dry and cold seasons, leaving a renewed layer of soil protected by the residue of the same plants.
The vegetative species present in this region are Poa ligularis, Stipa tenuissima, Stipa tricótoma, Stipa filiculmis (flechilla or pasto puna), Panicum urvilleanum, Elionurus muticus, Sorghastrum pellitum, Eragrostis lugens, Bromus brevis, Chloris retusa and others.
Shrub species are beginning to show more frequently, including Discaria longispina, Baccharis articulata (carquejilla), Geoffroea decorticans (chañar), Prosopis caldenia (caldén) and others.
Few endemic plants are in the Semi-arid Pampas ecoregion, but the area has high biodiversity. In addition, various marshes are considered unique habitats. The fauna in this ecoregion is also found in the Humid Pampas ecoregion.
Some of the common animals include the pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus celer), the puma (Felis concolor), Geoffroy’s cat (Felis geoffroyi), pampa fox (Dusicyon gymnocercus), and the zorrino común (Conepatus chinga).
Other mammals in the area are the vizcachas (Lagostomus maximus), the cuis pampeano (Cavia aperea), the nutria (Myocastur coypus), and the opossum (Didelphis albiventris).
Most of the natural vegetation has been replaced by agriculture and cattle ranching. As a result, the ecoregion is considered endangered and is regarded as a high-priority conservation area at the regional scale.
Map depicting the location of the Semi-arid Pampas in Argentina