A Grassland Mosaic
The Humid Pampas ecoregion is a savanna-like grassland mosaic, dominated by bunchgrasses and scattered with shrubs and small trees. Historically, these grasslands extended across much of northwestern Argentina and converged with the Chaco habitat to the north. Here one can find the rare pampas cat, stalking chinchilla in the high grasses.
Though similar to the Semi-Arid Pampas to the south, this ecoregion retains more water in the form of marshes and wetlands, where cattails, water lilies, and reeds are common. This ecoregion supports a number of endemic species and has a high diversity of species, especially in grasses and in seed-eating birds such as the double-collared seedeater, great pampa-finch, grassland yellowfinch, and long-tailed reed-finch.
The viscacha, a rabbit-sized rodent characterized by its long fur, bushy tail, and black ears, makes its home in rock outcroppings. A male pampas meadowlark displays his bright red breast to attract a nearby female. A pampas fox jumps straight up in the air as it pounces on an unsuspecting guinea pig. An endemic criolla frog narrowly escapes the searching eyes of a stripe-backed bittern while seeking shelter among the cattails of a marsh. Along the coastal plains, a large hairy armadillo freezes as the shadow of a harrier crosses its path, though it is much too large a prey for this medium-sized raptor. A group of guanacos (llama-like mammals) stands its ground as a lone maned wolf trots by. A rare red-winged tinamou in the cover of Poa bunchgrass sings its melodious to-wee-oo, who, you-two.
Cause for Concern
Like the Semi-Arid Pampas ecoregion, this area is currently a blend of agricultural lands, cattle ranches, and urban areas, with precious few intact native grasslands. The Humid Pampas ecoregion is one of the richest grazing areas in the world. Because of this, it has been severely affected by domestic livestock and farming. No pristine pampas habitats remain, and there are only a few true remnants of this once-vast "sea of grass." Today, it is considered one of the most endangered habitats on Earth. Other threats include the introduction of exotic plants and animals, overhunting, urban sprawl, and road-building.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001