Wildlife of Brazil

Wildlife of Brazil

The wildlife of Brazil is all the natural flora and fauna in the South American country. Home to 60% of the Amazon Rainforest, which contains more than one-third of all species in the world, [cite web | url = http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildplaces/amazon/index.cfm | title = Amazon Rainforest, Amazon Plants, Amazon River Animals | publisher = World Wide Fund for Nature
accessdate = 2007-11-26
] Brazil is considered to have the greatest biodiversity of any country on the planet. It has most known species of plants (55,000), freshwater fish (3000) and mammals (over 520).cite book | first = Danny | last = Palmerlee | title = South America on a Shoestring
year = 2007 | isbn = 978-1741044430 | oclc = 76936293
publisher = Lonely Planet Publications | pages = 275
] It also ranks third on the list of countries with the most number of bird species (1622) and fifth with the most reptile species (468). Approximately two-thirds of all species worldwide are found in tropical areas, often coinciding with developing countries such as Brazil. Brazil is second only to Indonesia as the country with the most endemic species. [cite news | first=A.D | last=Chapman | coauthors= | title=Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World: A Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage | date=September 2005 | publisher=Australian Biodiversity Information Services | url =http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/publications/other/species-numbers/05-comparisons.html | work =Australian Biological Resources Study | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-26]

There is general consensus, that Brazil has the highest number of both terrestrialrt by the sheer size of Brazil and the great variation in ecosystems such as Amazon Rainforest, Atlantic Forest and Cerrado. The numbers published about Brazil'sed between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Brazil.cite journal | last = Lewinsohn | first = Thomas M. | coauthors = Paulo Inátitle = How Many Species Are There in Brazil? | journal = Conservation Biology | volume = 19
issue = 3 | pages = 619–624 | doi = 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00680.x
] AccorBeing a species-rich ecosystem for fauna and flora, Brazil houses many thousands of species, with many (if not most) of them still undiscovered. Due to the relatively explosive economic and demographic rise of the country in the last century, Brazil's ability to protect its environmental habitats has increasingly come under threat. Extensive logging in the nation's forests, particularly the Amazon, both official and unofficial, destroys areas the size of a small country each year, and potentially a diverse variety of plants and animals.USDA Forest Service website, [http://www.fs.fed.us/global/globe/l_amer/brazil.htm Forest Service International Programs: Brazil] , retrieved February 2007.] However, as various species possess special characteristics, or are built in an interesting way, some of their capabilities are being copied for use in technology (see bionics), and the profit potential may result in a retardation of deforestation."Italic text"


Brazil's immense area is subdivided into different ecoregions in several kinds of biomes. Because of the wide variety of habitats in Brazil, from the jungles of the Amazon Rainforest and the Atlantic Forest (which includes Atlantic Coast restingas), to the tropical savanna of the Cerrado, to the xeric shrubland of the Caatinga, to the world's largest wetland area, the Pantanal, there exists a wide variety of wildlife as well.


Mammals and reptiles

The main wild felines found in Brazil are the jaguar, the puma, the margay, the oncilla, and the jaguarundi. Other notable animals include the giant anteater, several varieties of sloths and armadillos, coati, giant river otter, Maned Wolf, tapir, peccaries, marsh deer, Pampas deer, and capybara (the world's largest existing rodent). There are around 75 primate species, including the howler monkey, the capuchin monkey, the squirrel monkey, the marmoset, and the tamarin.

Brazil is home to the anaconda, frequently described, controversially, as the largest snake on the planet. This water boa has been measured up to convert|30|ft|m long, but historical reports note that native peoples and early European explorers claim anacondas from 50 to convert|100|ft|m long. [ cite web|url=http://www.extremescience.com/BiggestSnake.htm |title=Which is the Biggest Snake? |accessdate=2007-12-05 |publisher=Extreme Science ] [ cite web|url=http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/2006/show_species_details.php?record_id=1253882 |title=Eunectes murinus |accessdate=2007-12-05 |work=Catalogue of Life: 2006 Annual Checklist ]


It is calculated that Brazil has more insects than any country in the world. It is estimated as having over 70,000 species of insects, [ cite web|url=http://www.brasembottawa.org/en/brazil_in_brief/natural_resources.html |title=Brazil in Brief: Natural Resources |accessdate=2007-12-05 |publisher=Embassy of Brazil - Ottawa ] with some estimates ranging up to 15 million,cite web | title=A Naturalist's Guide to the Tropics | url=http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468283.html | author=Marco Lambertini | date=2000 | accessdate=2007-06-19] with more being discovered almost daily. One 1996 report estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 species of insects and spiders in a single hectare of rainforest. [ cite web|url=http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120483.500-how-did-paradise-begin--an-astonishing-60-000-species-of-insects-and-spiders-may-live-in-a-patchof-the-amazon-the-size-of-a-football-pitch-the-big-question-is-why-there-are-somany-bob-holmes-and-gabrielle-walker-went-in-search-of-clues.html |title=How did paradise begin? |accessdate=2007-12-05 |last=Holmes |first=Bob |coauthors=Gabrielle Walker |date=1996-09-21 |work=New Scientist ] About 520 thysanoptera species belonging to six families in 139 genera are found in Brazil. [cite web
url = http://www.ento.csiro.au/thysanoptera/Symposium/Section9/49-Monterio.pdf
title = The Thysanoptera fauna of Brazil
author = Renata Chiarini Monteiro
publisher = CSIRO Entomology
accessdate = 2007-11-26

The largest spider in the world, a species of tarantula, the Goliath Bird Eating Spider ("Theraphosa blondi") can be found in some regions of Brazil. [ cite web|url=http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/goliath_bird_eating_spider.htm |title=Goliath Bird Eating Spider |accessdate=2007-12-05 |first=Elisabeth Benders-Hyde |work=Blue Planet Biomes ]


Brazil ranks third on the list of countries, behind Colombia and Peru, with the most number of distinct bird species, having 1622 identified species, including over 70 species of parrots alone. It has 191 endemic birds. The variety of types of birds is vast as well, and include birds ranging from brightly colored parrots, toucans, and trogons to flamingos, ducks, vultures, hawks, eagles, owls, swans, and hummingbirds. There are also species of penguins that have been found in Brazil. [ [http://www.penguins.cl/magellanic-penguins.htm Magellanic Penguin] , Organisation for the Conservation of Penguins.]

The largest bird found in Brazil is the rhea, a flightless ratite bird, similar to the emu.

Aquatic and Amphibian

Brazil has over 3,000 identified species of freshwater fish and over 500 species of amphibians. The most well-known fish in Brazil is the piranha. [Levitas, Gloria. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE1DE1238F932A2575AC0A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all "The Amazon's Kettle of Fish"] , New York Times, September 11, 1988.] Other aquatic and amphibian animals found in Brazil include the pink dolphin (the world's largest river dolphin), the alligators (such as the Black Caiman), and the pirarucu (the world's largest river fish). Also familiar are the brightly-colored poison dart frogs that are abundant in the Amazon Rainforest.


Brazil has most known species of plants (55,000), among all the countries in the world. About 30% of species of plants are endemic to Brazil. The Atlantic Forest region is home to tropical and subtropical moist forests, tropical dry forests, tropical savannas, and mangrove forests. The Pantanal region is a wetland, and home to a known 3,500 species of plants. The Cerrado is biologically the most diverse savanna in the world.

The Pau-Brasil tree (also known as Brazilwood) was a common plant found along the Atlantic coast of Brazil. But excessive logging of the prized timber and red dye from the bark pushed the Pau-Brasil towards extinction. However, since the inception of synthetic dyes, the Pau-Brazil has been harvested less. The Pau-Brasil tree is sometimes mentioned as the origin of the country's name.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Pau brasil profile | date= | publisher=Global Trees Campaign | url =http://www.globaltrees.org/reso_tree.asp?id=25 | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-28 | language = ] [ cite web|url=http://www.bio.net/bionet/mm/plantbio/1995-June/007015.html |title=Brazil, National flower? |accessdate=2007-11-28 |last=Kirkbride |first=Joseph H., Jr. |date=1995-06-11 |work=Plantbio Mailing List ]

Along the border with Venezuela lies Monte Roraima, home to many carnivorous plants. The plants evolved to digest insects due to the oligotrophic (low level of nutrients) soil of the tepui. [ cite web|url=http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/nt/nt0169_full.html |title=Tepuis (NT0169) |accessdate=2007-11-28 |last=Sears |first=Robin |date=2001 |publisher=World Wildlife Fund ]

List of plants by ecoregion:
* List of plants of Amazon Rainforest vegetation of Brazil
* List of plants of Atlantic Forest vegetation of Brazil
* List of plants of Caatinga vegetation of Brazil
* List of plants of Cerrado vegetation of Brazil
* List of plants of Pantanal vegetation of Brazil

Threats to wildlife

More than one-fifth of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil has been completely destroyed, and more than 70 mammals are endangered. The threat of extinction comes from several sources, including deforestation and poaching. Extinction is even more problematic in the Atlantic Forest, where nearly 93% of the forest has been cleared. [ cite web|url=http://www.nature.org/wherewework/southamerica/brazil/work/art5080.html |title=Places We Work: The Atlantic Forest of Brazil |accessdate=2007-12-05 |date=2007 |publisher=The Nature Conservancy ] Of the 202 endangered animals in Brazil, 171 are in the Atlantic Forest. cite web|url=http://www.mre.gov.br/cdbrasil/itamaraty/web/ingles/meioamb/biodiv/matatlan/biodiv/index.htm |title=Biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest |accessdate=2007-12-05 |last=Capobianco |first=João Paulo |work=Brazil on CD-ROM and Internet |publisher=Ministry of External Relations ]


Brazil's environment is under threat because of the rapid economic and demographic rise. Extensive legal and illegal logging destroys forests the size of a small country per year, and with it a diverse series of species through habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation. Since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) of the Amazon Rainforest have been cleared by logging. [cite news | first=Rhett A. | last=Butler | coauthors= | title=Brazil to Protect Amazon Rainforest | date=2006-03-28 | publisher=MongaBay.com | url =http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0328-amazon.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-28 | language = ] Between 2002 and 2006, an area of the Amazon the size of South Carolina was deforested for the purposes of raising cattle, growing soybeans and cutting timber. By 2020, it is estimated that at least 50% of the species resident in Brazil will become extinct. [cite web
title=National Academic Press website


According to a 2001 report by Rede Nacional de Combate ao Tráfico de Animais Silvestres, or RENCTAS, (Portuguese for "National Network Against the Trafficking of Wild Animals"), wildlife smuggling is Brazil's third most profitable illegal activity, after arms dealing and drug smuggling. [citeweb
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1653034.stm
title = Wildlife smuggling rises in Brazil
date = 13 November 2001
accessdate = 2007-11-26
] RENCTAS believes that the poachers are taking an estimated 38 million birds, animals and reptiles from the wild each year.citeweb
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1926231.stm
title = Brazil's smuggled wildlife toll
author = Alex Kirby
date = 29 April 2002
accessdate = 2007-11-26

Invasive species

Native wildlife are threatened by some invasive species. There have been more than 300 documented invasive species in Brazil. [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Symposium in Brasília launches South America Invasive Species Program | date= | publisher=The Nature Conservancy | url =http://www.nature.org/wherewework/southamerica/brazil/work/art16876.html | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-28 | language = ] It is estimated that invasive species cost Brazil around $49 billion. The most threatening species is the wild boar which destroys crops and natural flora, and can transmit diseases to indigenous animals. Also damaging the natural habitat are African grasses and snails. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) has put restrictions on what species may be brought into the country. [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Brazil Struggles to Control Invasive Animals and Plants | date=2005-10-05 | publisher=Environment News Service | url =http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2005/2005-10-06-07.asp | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-11-28 | language = ] [ [http://www.institutohorus.org.br/index_eng.htm Instituto Hórus de Desenvolvimento e Conservação Ambiental] (The Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development)]


Environmentalists have stated there is not only a biological incentive to protecting the rainforest, but an economic one as well. One hectare of the Amazon Rainforest has been calculated to have a value of $6820 if intact forest is sustainably harvested for fruits, latex, and timber; $1000 if clear-cut for commercial timber (not sustainably harvested); or $148 if used as cattle pasture.Although this study was developed specifically for the Peruvian Amazon, the Brazilian Amazon holds the same value. Peters, C.M., Gentry, A.H. & Mendelsohn, R.O. (1989) "Valuation of an Amazonian Forest." "Nature" 339: 655-656.]

In order to protect biological and socio-cultural diversity, Brazil has established an extensive network of protected areas which covers more than 2 million km2 (25% of Brazil's national territory) and is divided almost equally between protected natural areas or conservation units and indigenous land (terras indígenas). In addition, the Força Aérea Brasileira has been using Embraer R-99 surveillance aircraft, as part of the Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia (SIVAM) program, to monitor the illegal logging or burning of the Amazon.

From 2002 to 2006, the conserved land in the Amazon Rainforest has almost tripled, and deforestation rates have dropped up to 60%. About convert|1000000|km2|sqmi, have been put onto some type of conservation, which adds up to a current amount of convert|1730000|km2|sqmi. [Cormier, L. 2006. [http://eea.anthro.uga.edu/index.php/eea/article/view/10/11 "A Preliminary Review of Neotropical Primates in the Subsistence and Symbolism of Indigenous Lowland South American Peoples"] . "Ecological and Environmental Anthropology", University of Georgia, April 16, 2006. Retrieved September 28, 2006.]

However, conservation efforts have in some cases turned deadly. In 2005, Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old American nun, was murdered in a dispute with a local rancher. Stang wanted to preserve a swath of the rainforest, where the rancher wanted to raise cattle. [Wallace, Scott. "National Geographic Magazine". January 2007.] In addition, the Brazilian environmental activists Wilson Pinheiro and Chico Mendes were also murdered in disputes with other local ranchers in 1980 and 1988, respectively.

National emblems


Further reading

* cite book
first = David L.
last = Pearson
coauthors = Les Beletsky
title = Brazil-Amazon and Pantanal
series = Ecotravellers Wildlife Guides
publisher = Academic Press
origyear = 2001
isbn = 978-0125480529
oclc = 77711203
pages = 275

External links

* [http://www.brazilianfauna.com/ BrazilianFauna.com] , a not-for profit educational website
* [http://www.brazilnature.com/ingles/ecossistema.html Brazil Nature: Ecosystem]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brazil — Infobox Country native name = República Federativa do Brasil conventional long name = Federative Republic of Brazil common name = Brazil symbol type = Coat of arms national motto = Ordem e Progresso pt icon Order and Progress national anthem =… …   Wikipedia

  • Wildlife Trust (US) — Wildlife Trust is a non profit, non governmental organization headquartered in New York City working on conservation ecology and captive breeding issues in the United States and around the world. Wildlife Trust is an international organization of …   Wikipedia

  • Wildlife Preservation Canada — is a non profit, non governmental organization working on conservation and captive breeding issues in Canada. It is headquartered in Guelph, Ontario.It was founded in 1985 by Gerald Durrell as a sister organization of the Jersey Wildlife… …   Wikipedia

  • brazil — /breuh zil /, n. brazilwood. [1350 1400; ME brasile < ML < It < Sp brasil, deriv. of brasa live coal (the wood being red in color) < Gmc; see BRAISE] * * * Brazil Introduction Brazil Background: Following three centuries under the rule of… …   Universalium

  • Brazil — Brazilian /breuh zil yeuhn/, adj., n. /breuh zil /, n. a republic in South America. 164,511,366; 3,286,170 sq. mi. (8,511,180 sq. km). Cap.: Brasília. Portuguese and Spanish, Brasil. Official name, Federative Republic of Brazil. * * * Brazil… …   Universalium

  • Wildlife of Nicaragua — The Wildlife of Nicaragua includes its flora and fauna. Nicaragua has a wide variety of wildlife, most of which live in wildlife reserves and live in rainforests, lakes, mountains, and volcanoes throughout the country. Bosawás covers 1.8 million… …   Wikipedia

  • Brazil — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Brazil <p></p> Background: <p></p> Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system… …   The World Factbook

  • Wildlife of Mauritius — The wildlife of Mauritius includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats. Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar. Due to its isolation, it has a relatively low diversity of wildlife. However, a high proportion …   Wikipedia

  • Wildlife of Japan — The Wildlife of Japan includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats. The islands of Japan stretch a long distance from north to south and cover a wide range of climatic zones. This results in a high diversity of wildlife despite Japan s …   Wikipedia

  • Wildlife of Saint Helena — Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha as well the other uninhabited islands nearby are a haven for wildlife in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are or were home to much endemic flora and fauna, especially birds, and… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.