“The Cerrado Biome is one of the world’s principal centers of biodiversity, ranked by Myers et al. (2000) as among 25 global hotspots of absolute importance for conservatin.” (Ratter, Bridgewater and Ribeiro, Chapter 2, p. 34 in Neotropical Savannas and Seasonally Dry Forests, edited by R.T. Pennington et al., 2006 – see bibliography below)
This biodiversity is disappearing fast . Much of it may already be lost forever.
After presenting in my last post some aspects of the destruction of the largest biome in Brazil, the Amazon Rainforest, I am presenting the second largest biome, the cerrado (Brazilian savannas), a ancient biome dating from the Pliocene and Pleistocene, rich in biodiversity, which is in a much worse state of destruction than the Amazon rainforest: more than 50% are irreversibly destroyed by the agribusiness (Professor Altair Sales Barbosa – text in Portuguese – translation by Google Translator is good) . As opposed to my previous post which shows the destruction of the Amazon rainforest , I will show selected facies of the cerrado in its natural state where it has been preserved, mainly in the chapadas (mountainous plateaus) where agricultural machinery cannot be used.
Cerrado “sensu stricto”.
An open woodland letting through enough light to allow the growth of a grass ground cover.
Wooded savanna (called cerrado in Brazil), end of dry season. Minas Gerais – Bahia State, Brazil. Stemless palm is Attalea geraensis.
Cerrado (savanna or wooded savanna) showing trees with contorted trunks and branches and thick bark which acts as a protection to fire. Brazilian Highlands, Brazilian Shield, northern Goias, Brazil.
Vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil.
Two different ecosystems in savanna (cerrado) biome: vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil, with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) along small stream; and campos rupestres, saxicolous vegetation on hilly rock outcrop. Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil
Vereda, a treeless grassland ecosystem on semi-waterlogged soil with stands of buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa) in permanently wet spots. Savanna biome (called cerrado in Brazil). Grande Sertão Veredas National Park (or proximity), Minas Gerais or Bahia State, Brazil.
Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: Mimosa foliolosa (Fabaceae – Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in forest gallery of Rio Claro, in the watershed of Rio Tocantins.
Rio Claro and its forest gallery, river in watershed or drainage basin of rio Tocantins in Brazilian Highlands (panalto Brasileiro), northern Goiás State, Brazil
Tibouchina candolleana (Melastomataceae) with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in background, at fringe of forest gallery, Brazil Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto Brasileiro), Goias State, Brazil.
Vegetation on rock outcrops (saxicolous vegetation) – Campos Rupestres
Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: vegetation on rock outcrop (saxicolous vegetation): Cactus: Pilosocereus machrisii (family Cactaceae).
Contorted tree, saxicolous vegetation (growing among rocks) on Pre-Cambrian rock outcrop in Brazilian Highlands, Goias State, Brazil
Cerrado (brazilian savanna) biome: contorted tree, shrub and grass in campos rupestres (saxicolous vegetation, vegetation on rocks) ecosystem on rock outcrop: Goias, Brazilian Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto brasileiro), Brazil
The Cerrados of Brazil (book – download) by Paulo S. Oliveira, Robert J. Marquis – Columbia University Press 2002
Little information is available in English on the savannas of South America. This book, with chapters written by various scientists, starts filling this gap with an ecological perspective, from the soils to the plant and animal communities to the action of fire, the human occupation and conservation.
Contribution to the discussions on the origin of the cerrado biome: Brazilian savanna
Braz. J. Biol. vol.70 no.1 São Carlos Feb. 2010
From the abstract: “Fire, as well as acid and dystrophic soils, would be factors involved in the selection of savanna species throughout climatic events, during the Tertiary and the Quaternary, e.g. Pliocene and Pleistocene.” A .pdf of the full article can be downloaded from this link.
Com Cerrado extinto água no Brasil secará
by Professor Altair Sales Barbosa of PUC de Goiás – Revista Ecológica 06/10/2014
Discussion of the irreversible damages on biodiversity, on water supply, on people by the irresponsible de-forestation of the cerrado by agribusiness. In Portuguese, but Google Translator gives a pretty accurate English version.
(more books have certainly been published – I may add them at a later date, as I become aware of them)
Neotropical Savannas and Seasonnally Dry Forests Plant Diversity, Biogeography, and Conservation – Edited by R. Toby Pennington, Gwilym P. Lewis, James A. Ratter – CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, 2006.
Not for the faint-hearted… 20 chapters, written by 59 specialists. Biodiversity, phytogeography, biogeographical history, population genetics, floristic relationships, conservation, parallels with African savannas, etc…
CERRADO ecologia e caracterização
Editores técnicos: Ludmilla Moura de Souza Aguiar, Amabilio José Aires de Camargo – Embrapa Informação Tecnlógica, 2004.
Chapters by various authors over conclusions of research at the EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisas Agropecuárias). Covers a wide range of topics with emphasis on biodiversity, economic aspects. human impact and environment preservation. A useful complement in Portuguese to “The Cerrados of Brazil ” described above in the Links section.
The Ecology of Neotropical Savannas, by Guillermo Sarmiento, translated by Otto Solbrig – Harvard University Press 1984.
An early study of South American savannas, based primarily on research in Venezuela. Emphasis on seasonality, nutrient-poor soils.
Photo identification books
100 Árvores do Cerrado
by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior
Field guide to 100 trees of the Brazilian savannas, each species being illustrated by photographs of the flowers, leaves, bark etc to help identification.
+100 Árvores do Cerrado – Matas de Galeria
*by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior, Benedito Alisio da Silva Pereira
Continuation of the previous field guide, concentrating on forest galleries species.
CERRADO, espécies vegetais úteis
by Semíramis Pedrosa de Almeida, Carolyn Elinore B. Proença, Sueli
Matiko Sano, José Felípe Ribeiro
Many plants of the savannas of the Brazilian Highlands are used by the
local population, as food, medicines, or manufacturing materials. The
popular knowledge of plants is extensive. This book gives a glimpse of
that knowledge, with more than 400 pages of botanical descriptions and
uses, including ecological aspects, chemical analysis etc, with one
photograph for each species.
Flores e Frutos do Cerrado
Flowers and Fruits of the Cerrado
by Carolyn C. Proença, Rafael S. Oliveira, Ana Palmira Silva
A nice book to identify flowers. Short introduction both in Portuguese and in English; also a Portuguese-English glossary. Numerous photographs. A nice touch is that the flowers are grouped by color, which makes the use easy,
Flores da Serra da Calçada
by Leda Afonso Martens
Another abundantly illustrated book with photographs of the flora of a
cerrado region of the State of Minas Gerais. It covers not only flowering
plants (angiosperms), but also some ferns and lichens, and scenics of
the region, including anthropic degradation. A wonderful book.