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Northeastern Brazil restingas (NT0144)

Northeastern Brazil restingas
Satellite view of the restingas along the northeast coast of Brazil
Photograph by USGS


Eastern South America: Eastern coast of Brazil
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

3,900 square miles (10,100 square kilometers) -- about the size of Connecticut

· Tapestry in the Desert
· Special Features
· Did You Know?
· Wild Side
· Cause for Concern
More Photos

Tapestry in the Desert

Along the coast of northern Brazil, restingas form a tapestry of coastal dune habitats, and include palm, grass, tree, and scrub thicket. This uniquely isolated and surprisingly diverse ecoregion is host to a variety of endemic plants and animals.

Special Features Special Features

This ecoregion extends along the coast of northeastern Brazil, broken up by lagoons, mangroves, and patches of grass savanna that protrude from the caatinga ecoregion to the south. While no plants grow on the dunes themselves, dwarf palms mixed with bromeliads, ferns, and shrubs, grow behind them in a scrub dominated landscape. Medium-tall grasses and scrub trees dominate the grassland/savanna portions of this ecoregion while patches of low dry thicket and cactus grow in areas sheltered from heavy winds.

Did You Know?
Restingas is the name the Portuguese gave to the local plant-covered sand bars. Lencois Maranhenses National Park, located in the western portion of this ecoregion, contains some of the most extensive coastal dune habitats in the world.

Wild Side

A variety of animals live in this ecoregion, including animals usually found only in the desert. Most of the species live in the forests along the rivers, in the grasslands, and in the thickets. Marmosets, which are tiny primates, forage for small insects and seeds in the tops of scattered palms along the riverbank. Common birds along the meandering streams include wood stork, roseate spoonbill, white-necked heron, great egret, cattle egret, black-crowned night heron, and olivaceous cormorant. Among the thickets, jaguarundis stalk their prey. And as dusk falls, sharp-nosed bats, two-lined bats, fishing bats, and naked-backed bats alight in search of food.

Cause for Concern

A number of fishing villages dot the coastline and tourism has only recently begun to take hold in this relatively unpopulated area. The majority of human impact occurs along the river banks and other areas of colonization, although the landscape here remains relatively pristine.

For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.

All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001