South America ... From time immemorial, plants and animals of this region have attracted increased attention. It is here that a huge number of unique animals live, and the flora is represented by truly unusual plants. It is unlikely that in the modern world one can meet a person who would not agree to visit this continent at least once in his life.
General geographical description
In fact, a huge continent called South America. Plants and animals here are also diverse, but all of them, according to experts, are largely due to the geographical location and features of the formation of the earth's surface.
The continent is washed from two sides by the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The main part of its territory is located in the southern hemisphere of the planet. The connection of the continent with North America occurred in the Pliocene era during the formation of the Isthmus of Panama.
The Andes are a seismically active mountain system, stretching along the western border of the continent. To the east of the ridge flows the largest river Amazon, and almost the entire area is covered with plants of the equatorial forests of South America.
Among other continents, this one takes 4th place in area and 5th place in terms of population. There are two versions of the appearance of people in this territory. Perhaps settlement took place through the Bering Isthmus, or the first people came from the South Pacific.
Unusual features of the local climate
South America is the wettest continent of the planet with six climatic zones. In the north there is a subequatorial belt, and in the south there are subequatorial, tropical, subtropical and temperate belts. In the north-west coast and lowlands of the Amazon, high humidity and equatorial climate.
From the equatorial belt to the north and south there is a sub-equatorial zone, where air masses of equatorial type alternate in summer with a lot of precipitation and dry tropical air in winter. The weather in the tropical zone in the east is affected by the trade winds. It is mostly humid and hot here. In the center, the amount of precipitation is less, but the dry winter period lasts longer.
On the Pacific coast and western slopes (between 5 ° and 30 ° S lat.) There is a zone of a dry tropical climate with low temperatures. The cold waters of the Peruvian Current impede the formation of precipitation and form fogs. Here is the most arid desert of the world - Atacama. In the south of the Brazilian Highland, located in the subtropical zone, the humid subtropical climate, closer to the center of the continent, it is already becoming drier.
The subtropical climate of the Mediterranean type prevails on the coast of the Pacific Ocean with a dry, hot summer and a mild, humid winter. For the south of the continent is also characterized by a temperate climate, characterized by contrast. On the west coast, it is of moderate marine type with rainy cool summers and warm winters. In the east, the climate is temperate continental: summer is warm and dry, and winter, on the contrary, is cool. The weather conditions of the Andes relate to the climate of high-altitude zone.
The conditioning of the local flora
If you ask the experts what plants in South America are considered the most common, you can get something like this: “Very different! And most of them are not found anywhere else in the world. ”
The development of flora began in the Mesozoic era and, starting from the Tertiary period, was completely isolated from other lands. Due to this, South American plants have such a variety and are famous for their endemism.
Many modern cultural representatives of the flora originate in South America, one of them is the well-known potato. But the cocoa tree, the rubber tree of the hevea, the quinine tree is now grown on other continents.
On the continent, experts distinguish Neotropic and Antarctic floristic regions. The first has similarities with the flora of Africa, and the second with the flora of the Antarctic, New Zealand and Australia. Despite this, there are differences in the types of vegetation and species composition. Savanna is typical for Africa, and tropical rainforests (selvases) dominate in South America. These forests cover areas with an equatorial climate and the slopes of the Brazilian and Guiana highlands from the Atlantic.
Under the influence of climate forests turn into savannahs. In Brazil, savannahs (campos) consist mainly of grass vegetation. In Venezuela and Guiana in the savannas (lianos), in addition to cereals, palm trees grow. In the Brazilian Highlands, in addition to the flora of a typical savanna, there are species that are resistant to drought. The northeast of the highlands is occupied by a kaatinga, which is a rare forest of drought-resistant trees. The wet part of the southeast is covered with subtropical Araucaria forests and representatives of the underbrush, including Paraguayan tea. Inside the highlands of the Andes there are lands with mountain-tropical desert greens. The vegetation of the subtropical species occupies small areas of the mainland.
The cover of the eastern La Plata plain consists mainly of grass and forb plants (feather grass, bearded, fescue) and belongs to the second type of South American flora. This is a subtropical steppe, or pampa. Closer to the Brazilian highlands, steppe plants are combined with shrub thickets. Thickets of evergreen shrubs are characteristic of the Pacific coast.
In Patagonia, vegetation is dominated by arid steppes and semi-deserts of temperate latitudes (bluegrass, cactus, mimosa and others). Its diversity is characterized by the extreme southwest of the continent, covered with multi-tiered evergreen forests of coniferous and deciduous species.
If a continent is able to surprise a seasoned traveler, it is South America. The plants and animals here are in fact outlandish. Only one quinna tree is worth something.
By the way, it became famous for the healing properties of its bark, which the natives treated for malaria. The tree is named in honor of the wife of the Viceroy of Peru, healed in 1638 from fever with chinna bark.
The height of the tree reaches 15 meters, the evergreen leaves are shiny, and inflorescences of pink or white flowers are collected at the ends of the branches. The whole crown has a reddish tint. Healing is only the bark of the tree. Now the so-called tsikhona grows in many parts of the world.
The homeland of the cocoa tree is South America. Its seeds are used to make chocolate, hence the name.
For the sake of these seeds, the species is now cultivated all over the world. The tree reaches a height of 8 meters, and also has large dark green leaves and small pinkish-white flowers collected in inflorescences.
Flowering and fruiting almost all year round. Fruit ripening occurs from 4 to 9 months. The lifespan of a tree is 25-50 years.
A unique tree, which is a source of natural rubber, which is contained in the milky juice (latex). Latex is found in all parts of the rubber plant.
This evergreen tree is up to 30 meters high with a straight trunk up to 50 cm thick and light bark. The leaves are leathery, trifoliate, pointed, oval-shaped and collected in bunches at the ends of the branches.
Change of foliage occurs annually. The species belongs to monoecious plants with unisexual small flowers of white-yellow color, collected in simple inflorescences. The fruit with dense ovoid seeds is a tricuspid box.
South American animals
Many rare and interesting species of flora inhabit the mainland. These include sloths, armadillos, vicunas, alpacas and others. American ostriches and rhea have taken refuge in the pampas, and seals and penguins live in the cold south.
Endangered giant river turtles are found in the Galapogos Islands of the Pacific Ocean. Many animals can not be found on other continents. For example, Titikak whistler, wingless snowball and pood deer.
All animals living in South America are adapted to the harsh natural conditions.
The animal loves honey, for which it received the name "kinkazh", which translates as "honey bear". But kinkazhu is not at all like bears and belongs to the raccoon family.
The length of the animal - from 43 to 56 cm, slightly bulging big eyes, round head and ears. The coat is thick and short, brown on the back and a little lighter on the belly. Many individuals have a dark band on their backs.
In addition to honey, it feeds on plants, fruits, insects and small animals, does not hesitate to eggs and chicks. This is a night-time lone animals, meeting with relatives only for reproduction.
What animals in South America still attract attention? Spectacled bear, of course! He does not like open areas and lives in mountain forests. The beast weighs up to 140 kg, body length - up to 1.8 m, height at withers - up to 80 cm.
There are white or reddish spots around the eyes and on the nose. They are sometimes on the chest. The fur is thick black or with a brownish tinge. Eyes are round, small in size. Paws are long with large claws for digging the ground. Other bears have 14 pairs of ribs, and spectacles have only 13. They feed mainly on plant foods or small insects and animals.
This nocturnal animal builds its shelter in the trees and does not hibernate in winter. The organs of the beast are used in medicine, because of which their population is rapidly decreasing. The animal is listed in the Red Book.
This small predator of the cat family resembles a weasel or a cat. Yaguarundi has a long body (about 60 cm) with short legs, a small round head with triangular ears. Height at withers reaches 30 cm, weight - up to 9 kg.
Coat uniform color of gray, red or reddish-brown colors, not representing commercial value. It is found in forests, savannas or wetlands.
It feeds on insects, small animals and fruits. Yaguarundi lives and hunts alone, meets with other individuals for reproduction only.
This is such an unusual, amazing, alluring and fascinating South America, whose plants and animals are especially popular not only among scientists who associate their lives with the study of the continent, but also among curious tourists seeking to discover something new.
Wildlife of the Andes
Animals of South America are striking in their diversity, as well as its landscapes.
The Andes are the longest mountains on the planet, they are about 9 thousand kilometers long. These mountains are located in different zones: in the temperate, two subequatorial, equatorial, subtropical and tropical, so the number of plants grows in the Andes and there are various animals.
Deciduous and evergreen trees grow in the lower tier of equatorial forests, and at an altitude of 2500 meters there are quinine trees and coca bushes. In the subtropical zones grow cacti and lianas. In the Andes there are many valuable plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, coca, quinine trees.
The variety of animal species found in South America is amazing.
More than 900 species of amphibians, 1,700 species of birds and 600 species of mammals live in the Andes, which are not found in large flocks, as they are separated by densely growing trees. Bright large butterflies and large ants inhabit the forests. A large number of birds nest in dense forests, the most common are parrots, besides there are many hummingbirds here.
The wildlife of the Andes has been adversely affected by human activities. Previously, many condors lived here, but today they are preserved only in two places: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Nudo de Pasto.
The Condor is the largest flying bird on the West Coast. It has a brilliant black plumage, and around the neck there is a collar of white feathers. A white border runs along the wings.
End Condor (Vultur gryphus).
Condor females are much larger than males. Puberty in these birds comes in 5-6 months. They build nests on rocky cliffs, at an altitude of 3-5 thousand meters. In the clutch is usually 1-2 eggs. Among the feathered condors are long-lived, as they can live for about 50 years.
The Andean condor became simultaneously the symbol of several Latin American countries: Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Ecuador. In the culture of the peoples of the Andes, these birds play an important role.
But, despite this, in the twentieth century the number of these large birds was significantly reduced, so they were in the International Red Book. Today, condors are in a group of threatened species.
The Andean condor is the only surviving species from the genus Vultur.
It is believed that anthropological factors have become the main cause of the degradation of the condors, that is, the landscapes in which these birds lived have changed. They are also poisoned by animal carcasses that people shoot. Among other things, until recently, condors were specially shot, as it was a misconception that they pose a threat to domestic animals.
To date, several countries have organized programs for breeding condors in captivity, followed by their release into the wild.
The unusual islands of Lake Titicaca
Unique animals live not only in the Andes, but also in areas of Lake Titicaca. Only here you can find the Titikak whistler and wingless chomgu.
The Titicaca Whistler is an endemic frog of Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca is unusual for its floating islands Uros. According to legends, small tribes of Uros Indians a few thousand years ago settled on floating islands to separate from other peoples. These Indians themselves have learned how to build islands from straw.
Each island of Uros is formed of several layers of dry reed, while the lower layers are washed away over time, but the upper layers are updated all the time. The islands are springy and soft, and water seeps through the reed in some places. Indians build their huts and make balsa de totor boats, too, from reed.
Wingless Chomga is a bird, occasionally visiting Lake Titicaca.
Today, there are about 40 Uros islands floating on Lake Titicaca. And on some islands there are observation towers and even solar panels for energy generation. Trips to these islands are very popular among tourists.
Endemic animals of South America
Pood deer are found exclusively in South America. The growth of these deer is small - only 30-40 centimeters, the body length reaches 95 centimeters, and the mass does not exceed 10 kg. These deer have little in common with their relatives: they have short straight horns, small oval-shaped ears with hair, and body color is gray-brown with indistinct white spots.
Deer poodu live in impassable thickets, and go out into open places only at night to feed. Basically, they graze on the seashore, where there is a large amount of algae fuchsia, which form the basis of the diet of deer.
Little deer pood. The height of his body is only 30-40 cm.
In summertime, these deer are extremely cautious, but in snowy winters they approach villages, where dogs often attack them. Earlier, pood deer were found in abundance in Chile, Argentina and the Andes. But today there are only small populations in the coastal areas of Chile and on Chilos Island. Pudu are in the Red Book.
The fauna of South America has learned to survive in the conditions of tropical storms, in proximity to people, and in the high Andes. Due to the diversity of the climatic zones of South America, a unique fauna has formed here, which people must preserve and multiply.
There are 5 climatic zones on the continent:
Relief of the mainland conditionally can be divided into 2 zones - It is a flat plain in the eastern part and a mountain range in the west. The Andes Mountains are a continuation of the North America - Cordillera mountain range. This is the longest mountain range on our planet.
The flora of the mainland is diverse. This contributes to the mild warm climate and a large amount of precipitation. Flora on the continent varies depending on the climatic zone.
So in the tropical zone dominated by the jungle. And now scientists are discovering new species of plants and representatives of the animal world of tropical forests. The jungles of South America occupy a larger area than similar zones in Africa.
In the rainforest grow rubber trees, melon and chocolate trees, various types of palm trees, Hevea, orchids. In some areas the height of the forest cover reaches 100 meters. This may be a 12-tiered community with a unique flora and fauna inherent in each floor.
To the south of the Amazon Selva, rare deciduous forests begin. A typical representative of the plant world of this part of the continent is a quebracho tree with strong and durable wood.
Moving across the continent to the south, travelers will cross savannahs and reach the famous южноамериканские равнины – пампасы. Это классическая зона степей с ковылём, диким просом и разнотравьем. Изредка встречаются заросли мимозы и молочая. Почвы в этой части континента очень плодородные
Чем ближе к южной крайней точке материка, тем скуднее становится пейзаж. Пампасы сменяются зоной полупустынь и пустынь. Here there are dry shrubs that form a kind of pillow-perekatipol.
Wildlife of South America
The fauna on the mainland also depends on the climatic zone.
In tropical forests various species of monkeys, porcupines, sloths live. Many species are adapted exclusively to life in the trees. Tapirs and anteaters have chosen the lower tier of the forest. From predators - the famous jaguar. Entomologists are still discovering new species of insects. A large number of unique bird species inhabit the forests - these are toucans, macaw parrots. Only hummingbird babies in South America have about 320 species.
In the savanna zone animals are smaller, and they are adapted to life in open spaces. These are wild bakers and armadillos. Of the large birds, ostrich-nandu feel great. Large cats live in savannas - cougars and jaguars. From small predators in savannas live savanna fox and maned wolf.
Pampas - This is a habitat for swift-footed animals. These are llamas, deer and predators such as the pampas cat, several species of armadillos.
In the Andes Mountains basically the same species of animals live as on the flat part of the continent. but there are endemics - unique, inherent only in South America, animals. These are mountain llamas, spectacled bears, charming chinchillas.
Detailed information on the diversity of the nature of the South American continent can be found in the reports of various scientific societies.
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