South America – wildlife
South and Central America and the Caribbean comprise the Neotropical region comprising the Amazon lowlands, mountain forests and highland plains in the Andes, subtropical savannas, the Patagonian plain and the temperate part of the Andes with its moist coastal forests. In northern Chile and Peru there are coastal deserts.
South America’s wildlife is far richer than Africa and Asia. There are 800 mammal species, of which 90 are marsupials – one of many evidence that South America and Australia up to 50 million. years ago belonged to the supercontinent Gondwana. The land link between South and North America has been severed several times; the current Panamatange is only 2.5-3 million. years old. During the continent’s isolation, many endemic species and groups evolved: sloths (including giant forms), reptiles, the four laminae species, 50 monkeys (including marmosets, tamarins, and true western monkeys such as brood monkeys), many rodents (including guinea pigs and the world’s largest rodent, capybara or river pig) and five cat species (including jaguar and puma). In the rivers live two species of river dolphins and two species of cows (manatees).
2900 of the world’s 9000 bird species live in South America, and the local bird fauna is very species rich; For example, in the Peruvian National Park Manu, 450 species have been seen or heard in a single day. The tropical mountain forest contains 2,000 species of birds, such as ant predators, which follow the army ants, the red Peruvian rock cock, large-beaked toucans, nectar-drinking hummingbirds, the quetzal and macaw parrots. Higher up there is the duck condor, which has a wingspan of 3 m and lives from donkeys. In the forests, the imposing harpy eagle catches monkeys and sloths, and in open areas there are ostrich-like nandu. The quirky, leaf-eating hoatzin found in the Amazon are hatched with claws on the wings. In the breeding grounds of seabirds off the coast of Peru and Chile, mountains of excrement (guano) are formerly used as fertilizers.
In the Amazon rivers, the world’s largest snake, the anaconda, lives up to 10 meters and weighs 500 kg. Coral snakes, boa snakes and caimans (a crocodile group) are widespread. In the Amazon, there are also 1,700 of South America’s 2700 species of freshwater fish, such as pirate fish, electric eel and the up to 3 m long arapaima. The South American insect fauna is the world’s richest, and it is not yet known how many species are involved; some researchers estimate the species number to be up to 40 million, a large proportion of which are beetles.
|Argentina||Aconcagua (6959 masl)|
|Bolivia||Sajama (6,542 masl)|
|Brazil||Pico da Neblina (3,014 m asl)|
|Chile||Ojos del Salado (6,870 m asl)|
|Colombia||Pico Cristóbal Colón (5,775 m asl)|
|Ecuador||Chimborazo (6,267 m asl)|
|Paraguay||Cerro Peró (also called Tres Kandú, 842 m above sea level)|
|Peru||Huascarán (6768 masl)|
|Suriname||Julianatop (1,230 m asl)|
|Uruguay||Cerro Catedral (513 masl)|
|Venezuela||Pico Bolívar (5,007 masl)|
South America – plant life
In the Amazon slave country and on the eastern side of the Andes, the world’s largest contiguous area of tropical rainforest is found. The diversity is very high; Ecuador has at least 18,000 species of vascular plants, and Brazil maybe 40,000. Important families of tree plants are the Arecaceae (palm family), Cyclanthaceae, Lecythidaceae and others. among the epiphytes, the orchid and pineapple families are prominent. From the Amazon area, for example, rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) and giant pitchers (Victoria regia) come.
In drier tropical areas, i.e. parts of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, deciduous forest and savanna (campos, llanos) occur. In subtropical and temperate areas of Argentina, Uruguay, etc. there are prairie-like vegetation (pampas) as well as steppes and semi-deserts; Patagonia’s steppes form a transition to the Antarctic floral kingdom. Find population information on Countryaah.
In the Andes, many species from northern genera such as ribs, viols, lion’s feet and quarries grow, but here also Antarctic genera such as Gunnera and rubber cushions (Azorella) occur. Above the tree line in the equatorial areas, the vegetation type paramo is found with, among other things. rosette trees of the same type as in the high East African mountains, though belonging to other systematic groups such as the pineapple family; a drier alpine vegetation type further south is called puna. From the mountain forests of the Andes, among others. coca bush and china tree. West of the mountain range between approx. 31 ° and 38 ° s.br. a Mediterranean vegetation type similar to that of California occurs. Further north, it transitions into one of the world’s driest deserts, Atacama.
Many important cultural plants come from northern South America and Central America, for example corn, cocoa, pineapple, tomato, bell pepper, passion fruit, Brazil nuts and cassava. Potatoes originate from the Andes, where there are many wild species and forms.