- Neotropic ecozone
In biogeography, the Neotropic or Neotropical zone is one of the eight terrestrial ecozones. This ecozone includes South and Central America, the Mexican lowlands, the Caribbean islands, and southern Florida, because these regions share a large number of plant and animal groups.
It is sometimes used as a synonym for the tropical area of South America, although the ecozone also includes temperate southern South America. The Neotropical Floristic Kingdom excludes southernmost South America, which instead is placed in the Antarctic Kingdom.
The Neotropic is delimited by similarities in fauna or flora. Its fauna and flora are distinct from the Nearctic (which includes most of North America) because of the long separation of the two continents. The formation of the Isthmus of Panama joined the two continents two to three million years ago, precipitating the Great American Interchange, an important biogeographical event.
The Neotropic includes more tropical rainforest (tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests) than any other ecozone, extending from southern Mexico through Central America and northern South America to southern Brazil, including the vast Amazon Rainforest. These rainforest ecoregions are one of the most important reserves of biodiversity on Earth. These rainforests are also home to a diverse array of indigenous peoples, who to varying degrees persist in their autonomous and traditional cultures and subsistence within this environment. The number of these peoples who are as yet relatively untouched by external influences continues to decline significantly, however, along with the near-exponential expansion of urbanization, roads, pastoralism and forest industries which encroach on their customary lands and environment. Nevertheless amidst these declining circumstances this vast "reservoir" of human diversity continues to survive, albeit much depleted. In South America alone, some 350–400 indigenous languages and dialects are still living (down from an estimated 1,500 at the time of first European contact), in about 37 distinct language families and a further number of unclassified and isolate languages. Many of these languages and their cultures are also endangered. Accordingly, conservation in the Neotropic zone is a hot political concern, and raises many arguments about development versus indigenous versus ecological rights and access to or ownership of natural resources.
- 1 Major ecological regions
- 2 History
- 3 Endemic animals and plants
- 4 Neotropic Terrestrial Ecoregions
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Major ecological regions
The WWF subdivides the ecozone into bioregions, defined as "geographic clusters of ecoregions that may span several habitat types, but have strong biogeographic affinities, particularly at taxonomic levels higher than the species level (genus, family)."
The Amazonia bioregion is mostly covered by tropical moist broadleaf forest, including the vast Amazon rainforest, which stretches from the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, and the lowland forests of the Guianas. The bioregion also includes tropical savanna and tropical dry forest ecoregions.
Eastern South America
Eastern South America includes the Caatinga xeric shrublands of northeastern Brazil, the broad Cerrado grasslands and savannas of the Brazilian Plateau, and the Pantanal and Chaco grasslands. The diverse Atlantic forests of eastern Brazil are separated from the forests of Amazonia by the Caatinga and Cerrado, and are home to a distinct flora and fauna.
The Orinoco is a region of humid forested broadleaf forest and wetland primarily comprising the drainage basin for the Orinoco River and other adjacent lowland forested areas. This region includes most of Venezuela and parts of Colombia.
Southern South America
The temperate forest ecoregions of southwestern South America, including the temperate rain forests of the Valdivian temperate rain forests and Magellanic subpolar forests ecoregions, and the Juan Fernandez Islands and Desventuradas Islands, are a refuge for the ancient Antarctic flora, which includes trees like the southern beech (Nothofagus), podocarps, the alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), and Araucaria pines like the monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). These magnificent rainforests are endangered by extensive logging and their replacement by fast-growing non-native pines and eucalyptus.
South America was originally part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which included Africa, Australia, India, New Zealand, and Antarctica, and the Neotropic shares many plant and animal lineages with these other continents, including Marsupial mammals and the Antarctic flora.
After the final breakup of the Gondwana about 110 million years ago, South America was separated from Africa and drifted north and west. Much later, about 2 to 3 million years ago, South America was joined with North America by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, which allowed a biotic exchange between the two continents, the Great American Interchange. South American species like the ancestors of the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) and the armadillo moved into North America, and North Americans like the ancestors of South America's camelids, including the llama (Lama glama), moved south. The long-term effect of the exchange was the extinction of many South American species, mostly by outcompetition by northern species.
Endemic animals and plants
Thirty-one bird families are endemic to the Neotropical ecozone, over twice the number of any other ecozone. They include rheas, tinamous, curassows, and toucans. Bird families originally unique to the Neotropics include hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) and wrens (family Troglodytidae).
Mammal groups originally unique to the Neotropics include:
- Order Xenarthra: anteaters, sloths, and armadillos
- New World monkeys
- Caviomorpha rodents, including capybaras and guinea pigs, and chinchillas
- American opossums (order Didelphimorphia) and shrew opossums (order Paucituberculata)
Forty-three fish families and subfamilies are endemic to the Neotropical ecozone, more than any other ecozone (Reis et al., 2003). Neotropical fishes include more than 5,700 species, and represent at least 66 distinct lineages in continental freshwaters (Albert and Reis, 2011). Some fish groups originally unique to the Neotropics include:
- Order Gymnotiformes: Neotropical electric fishes
- Family Characidae: tetras and allies
- Family Loricariidae: armoured catfishes
- Subfamily Cichlinae: Neotropical cichlids
- Subfamily Poeciliinae: guppies and relatives
Examples of groups that are entirely or mainly restricted to the Neotropical region include
- New World Monkeys
- New World Coral Snakes
- Poison Dart Frogs
Plant species originally unique to the Neotropic include:
- Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
- Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
- Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), source of cocoa and chocolate
- Maize (Zea mays)
- Lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus)
- Cotton (Gossypium barbadense)
- Cassava (Manihot esculenta)
- Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)
- Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus)
- Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)
Neotropic Terrestrial Ecoregions
Atlantic Coast restingas Brazil Bahia coastal forests Brazil Bahia interior forests Brazil Bolivian Yungas Bolivia, Peru Caatinga enclaves moist forests Brazil Caqueta moist forests Brazil, Colombia Catatumbo moist forests Venezuela Cauca Valley montane forests Colombia Cayos Miskitos-San Andrés and Providencia moist forests Colombia, Nicaragua Central American Atlantic moist forests Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama Central American montane forests El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua Chiapas montane forests Mexico Chimalapas montane forests Mexico Chocó-Darién moist forests Colombia, Ecuador, Panama Cocos Island moist forests Costa Rica Cordillera de la Costa montane forests Venezuela Cordillera Oriental montane forests Colombia, Venezuela Costa Rican seasonal moist forests Costa Rica, Nicaragua Cuban moist forests Cuba Eastern Cordillera Real montane forests Colombia, Ecuador, Peru Eastern Panamanian montane forests Colombia, Panama Fernando de Noronha-Atol das Rocas moist forests Brazil Guayanan highlands forests Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela Guianan moist forests Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela Gurupa varzea Brazil Hispaniolan moist forests Dominican Republic, Haiti Iquitos varzea Bolivia, Brazil, Peru Isthmian-Atlantic moist forests Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama Isthmian-Pacific moist forests Costa Rica, Panama Jamaican moist forests Jamaica Japurá-Solimoes-Negro moist forests Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela Juruá-Purus moist forests Brazil Leeward Islands moist forests Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, Saint Kitts, British Virgin Islands Madeira-Tapajós moist forests Bolivia, Brazil Magdalena Valley montane forests Colombia Magdalena-Urabá moist forests Colombia Marajó varzea Brazil Maranhão Babaçu forests Brazil Mato Grosso tropical dry forests Brazil Monte Alegre varzea Brazil Napo moist forests Colombia, Ecuador, Peru Negro-Branco moist forests Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela Northeastern Brazil restingas Brazil Northwestern Andean montane forests Colombia, Ecuador Oaxacan montane forests Mexico Orinoco Delta swamp forests Guyana, Venezuela Pantanos de Centla Mexico Paramaribo swamp forests Guyana, Suriname Paraná-Paraíba interior forests Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay Pernambuco coastal forests Brazil Pernambuco interior forests Brazil Peruvian Yungas Peru Petén-Veracruz moist forests Mexico Puerto Rican moist forests Puerto Rico Purus varzea Brazil Purus-Madeira moist forests Brazil Rio Negro campinarana Brazil, Colombia Santa Marta montane forests Colombia Serra do Mar coastal forests Brazil Sierra de los Tuxtlas Mexico Sierra Madre de Chiapas moist forest El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico Solimões-Japurá moist forest Brazil, Colombia, Peru South Florida rocklands United States Southern Andean Yungas Argentina, Bolivia Southwest Amazon moist forests Bolivia, Brazil, Peru Talamancan montane forests Costa Rica, Panama Tapajós-Xingu moist forests Brazil Tepuis Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela Tocantins-Araguaia-Maranhão moist forests Brazil Trinidad and Tobago moist forests Trinidad and Tobago Trindade-Martin Vaz Islands tropical forests Brazil Uatuma-Trombetas moist forests Brazil, Guyana, Suriname Ucayali moist forests Peru Venezuelan Andes montane forests Colombia, Venezuela Veracruz moist forests Mexico Veracruz montane forests Mexico Western Ecuador moist forests Colombia, Ecuador Windward Islands moist forests Dominica, Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Xingu-Tocantins-Araguaia moist forests Brazil Yucatán moist forests Belize, Guatemala, Mexico Belizian pine forests Belize Central American pine-oak forests El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua Cuban pine forests Cuba Hispaniolan pine forests Haiti, Dominican Republic Miskito pine forests Honduras, Nicaragua Sierra de la Laguna pine-oak forests Mexico Sierra Madre de Oaxaca pine-oak forests Mexico Sierra Madre del Sur pine-oak forests Mexico Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests Mexico Magellanic subpolar forests Argentina, Chile Polylepis forests Bolivia, Peru San Felix-San Ambrosio Islands temperate forests (Desventuradas Islands) Chile Valdivian temperate rain forests Argentina, Chile Campos Rupestres montane savanna Brazil Cerrado Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay Clipperton Island shrub and grasslands Clipperton Island is an overseas territory of France Córdoba montane savanna Argentina Guyanan savanna Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela Gran Chaco Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay Llanos Colombia, Venezuela Uruguayan savanna Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay Argentine Monte Argentina Humid Pampas Argentina Patagonian grasslands Argentina, Chile Patagonian steppe Argentina, Chile Semi-arid Pampas Argentina Cuban wetlands Cuba Enriquillo wetlands Dominican Republic, Haiti Everglades United States Guayaquil flooded grasslands Ecuador Orinoco wetlands Venezuela Pantanal Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay Paraná flooded savanna Argentina Southern Cone Mesopotamian savanna Argentina Central Andean puna Argentina, Bolivia, Peru Central Andean wet puna Bolivia, Peru Cordillera Central páramo Ecuador, Peru Cordillera de Merida páramo Venezuela Northern Andean páramo Colombia, Ecuador Santa Marta páramo Colombia Talamanca Paramo Costa Rica, Panama Southern Andean steppe Argentina, Chile Zacatonal Mexico, Guatemala Aruba-Curaçao-Bonaire cactus scrub Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao Atacama desert Chile, Peru Caatinga Brazil Cayman Islands xeric scrub Cayman Islands Cuban cactus scrub Cuba Galápagos Islands xeric scrub Ecuador Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub Colombia, Venezuela La Costa xeric shrublands Venezuela Leeward Islands xeric scrub Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy, Saba, US Virgin Islands Malpelo Island xeric scrub Colombia Motagua Valley thornscrub Guatemala Paraguana xeric scrub Venezuela San Lucan xeric scrub Mexico Sechura desert Peru Tehuacán Valley matorral Mexico Windward Islands xeric scrub Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Peter and Saint Paul rocks Brazil
- this is because it gets only ten inches of precipitation a year
Amapá mangroves Brazil Bahamian mangroves Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands Bahia mangroves Brazil Belizean Coast mangroves Belize Belizean Reef mangroves Belize Bocas del Toro-San Bastimentos Island-San Blas mangroves Costa Rica, Panama Coastal Venezuelan mangroves Venezuela Esmeraldes-Pacific Colombia mangroves Colombia, Ecuador Florida mangroves United States Greater Antilles mangroves Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico Guianan mangroves French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela Gulf of Fonseca mangroves El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes mangroves Ecuador, Peru Gulf of Panama mangroves Panama Ilha Grande mangroves Brazil Lesser Antilles mangroves Lesser Antilles Magdalena-Santa Marta mangroves Colombia Manabí mangroves Ecuador Maranhão mangroves Brazil Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves Mexico Mayan Corridor mangroves Mexico Mexican South Pacific Coast mangroves Mexico Moist Pacific Coast mangroves Costa Rica, Panama Mosquitia-Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast mangroves Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua Northern Dry Pacific Coast mangroves El Salvador, Guatemala Northern Honduras mangroves Guatemala, Honduras Pará mangroves Brazil Petenes mangroves Mexico Piura mangroves Peru Ría Lagartos mangroves Mexico Rio Negro-Rio San Sun mangroves Costa Rica, Nicaragua Rio Piranhas mangroves Brazil Rio São Francisco mangroves Brazil Southern Dry Pacific Coast mangroves Costa Rica, Nicaragua Tehuantepec-El Manchon mangroves Mexico Trinidad mangroves Trinidad and Tobago Usumacinta mangroves Mexico
- Albert, J. S., and R. E. Reis (2011). Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press, Berkeley. 424 pp. ISBN 9780520268685 
- Cox, C. B.; P. D. Moore (1985). Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach (Fourth Edition). Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.
- Dinerstein, Eric; David Olson; Douglas J. Graham; et al. (1995). A Conservation Assessment of the Terrestrial Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington D.C.
- Schultz, J.: The Ecozones of the World, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2nd ed. 2005. ISBN 3-540-20014-2
- Reis, R. E., S. O. Kullander, and C. J. Ferraris Jr. 2003. Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Edipucrs, Porto Alegre. 729 pp.
- Udvardy, M. D. F. (1975). A classification of the biogeographical provinces of the world. IUCN Occasional Paper no. 18. Morges, Switzerland: IUCN.
- Media related to Neotropic at Wikimedia Commons
- Map of the ecozones
- Eco-Index, a bilingual searchable reference of conservation and research projects in the Neotropics; a service of the Rainforest Alliance
Biomes and Ecozones Terrestrial
Other biomes Ecozones Holarctic Kingdom Paleotropical Kingdom Neotropical KingdomCaribbean · Guayana Highlands · Amazonian · Brazilian · Andean South African Kingdom Australian KingdomNortheast Australian · Southwest Australian · Central Australian Antarctic KingdomFernandezian · Chile-Patagonian · South Subantarctic Islands · Neozeylandic
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Ecozone — An ecozone or biogeographic realm is the largest scale biogeographic division of the earth s surface based on the historic and evolutionary distribution patterns of plants and animals. Ecozones represent large areas of the earth s surface where… … Wikipedia
Nearctic ecozone — For the thoroughbred racehorse, see Nearctic (horse). The Nearctic is one of the eight terrestrial ecozones dividing the Earth s land surface. The Nearctic Ecozone The Nearctic ecozone covers most of North America, including Greenland and the… … Wikipedia
Australasian ecozone — The Australasia Ecozone according to the WWF The Australasian zone is an ecological region that is coincident, but not synonymous (by some definitions), with the geographic region of Australasia.[ … Wikipedia
Indomalaya ecozone — The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet s land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia. The Indomalaya Ecozone Also called the Oriental Realm by… … Wikipedia
Oceania ecozone — Oceania is one of the WWF ecozones, and unique in not including any continental land mass. The ecozone includes the Pacific Ocean islands of Micronesia, the Fijian Islands, and most of Polynesia (with the exception of New Zealand). New Zealand… … Wikipedia
Antarctic ecozone — Antarctica is one of eight terrestrial ecosystems. The ecosystem includes Antarctica and several island groups in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The continent of Antarctica is so cold and dry that it has supported virtually no vascular… … Wikipedia
Woodland — Ecologically, a woodland is an area covered in trees, differentiated from a forest. In these terms, a forest has a largely closed canopy ndash; the branches and foliage of trees interlock overhead to provide extensive and nearly continuous shade … Wikipedia
Magellanic subpolar forests — View of a Magellanic Lenga forest close to the tree line in Torres del Paine National Park Ecology Biome … Wikipedia
Winteraceae — taxobox name = Winteraceae image caption = Drimys winteri regnum = Plantae unranked divisio = Angiosperms unranked classis = Magnoliids ordo = Canellales familia = Winteraceae familia authority = R.Br. ex Lindley subdivision ranks = Genera… … Wikipedia
Chilean Matorral — Ephedra chilensis Ecology Biome Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub … Wikipedia