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Eastern South America: Eastern Brazil

This small ecoregion on the eastern coast of Brazil is characterized by sandy dunes with shrubs and low forests further inland. This ecoregions isolation and unique characteristics help support a relatively high diversity of plants and moderate level of endemism, including the endemic restinga antwren. Less than ten percent of the original vegetation remains and with little protection, the remaining areas are threatened by urban expansion.

  • Scientific Code
    (NT0102)
  • Ecoregion Category
    Neotropical
  • Size
    3,100 square miles
  • Status
    Critical/Endangered
  • Habitats

Description
Location and General Description
Brazilian Atlantic coast restingas consist of three well-defined enclaves of restinga forests distributed from northeastern to southeastern Brazil (Lacerda et al. 1984). Along this latitudinal gradient, climate changes from tropical to subtropical. Restingas are on sandy and nutrient-impoverished soils that are frequently associated with a low-elevation plains (Quaternary or Tertiary) characterized by the presence of beach ridges and lagoonal systems (Flexor et al. 1984, Suguio & Tessler 1984). Restinga forests vary from shrub vegetation to 15 m tall forests, which are distributed over soil mosaics and gradients from the coastal zone inland (Mantovani 1992, Silva 1999, Sacramento 2000). The main type of vegetation is a kind of pioneer 5-15 m tall Atlantic forest (Veloso et al. 1991). Such forest is rich in shrubs and tree species of Myrtaceae (Eugenia, Myrcia, Marliera), Leguminosae (Andira), Euphorbiaceae (Croton), and Malphigiaceae (Byrsonima) (Mantovani 1992, Sacramento 2000, Pontes 2000). Plant composition shows a remarkable variation along the Atlantic Coast (Silva 1999). Mangroves, grasslands and swamps are all found bordering estuarine areas and beaches (Silva 1999). A combination of geomorphological, pedological, and floristic features sets this ecoregion apart from other portions of the Brazilian Atlantic forest.

Biodiversity Features
A rich variety of vascular plant species and the occurrence of endemism characterizes Brazilian Atlantic Coast restingas (Britto & Noblick 1984). Silva & Somner (1984) reported 204 vascular plant species in a transect of 50 by 450 m in Rio de Janeiro State. Restingas of Rio de Janeiro harbor at least 643 vascular plant species (Mantovani 1992). Also found in restinga forests are several species threatened with extinction, including plants (Bumelia capitata and Jacquinia brasiliensis), an amphibian (Aparasphenodon brunoi), a bird (Herpsilochmus pectoralis) and a mammal (Lutra longicaudis) (Maciel 1984, Filho et al.1992, Haddad & Abe 1999, Mendes 1999).

Current Status
Brazilian Atlantic coast restingas have been reduced by more than 90 percent (SOS MATA ATLÂNTICA 1993, 1998). Despite such heavy losses in the past, habitat loss due to urban development persists. Protected areas cover only 298.9 km2 (Silva & Dinnouti 1999).

Types and Severity of Threats
Restinga forests are surrounded by or very close to large cities in which tourism is the major economic activity. For all these cities, urban expansion is the major factor threatening the last remnants of Atlantic Coast restingas (Silva 1999).

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
Most researchers (C.T. Rizzini, H.P. Veloso, W. Mantovani) regard restinga forests as closely related to the humid types of Atlantic forest, since these two vegetation complex border each other and share several species. Thus, restinga forests are usually described as a mosaic of pioneer vegetation, which form a specific type of the Atlantic forest complex. The delineation’s for these extensive patches of restinga habitat along the eastern coast of Brazil were derived from the IBGE (1993) map, and linework matches the maps pioneer vegetation classification: restinga vegetation. These Atlantic Coast Restingas were then separated from the Northeastern Brazilian, to the east, by species ranges. These Atlantic Coast Restingas share more species with Mata Atlantica forests while Northeastern Brazilian Restingas share more species with Amazonia.

References
Britto, I.C. & Noblick, L.R. 1984. A importância de preservar as dunas de Itapuã e Abaeté. In: Lacerda, L.D., Araujo, D.S.D., Cerqueira, R. & Turcq, B. (Org.). Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. Pp. 269-274.

Filho, L.E.M., Somner, G.V. & Peixoto, A.L. 1992. Centuria Plantarum Brasilienum Exstintionis Miniata. Sociedade Botânica do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro.

FLEXOR, J.M., MARTIN, L., SUGUIO, K. & DOMINGUEZ, J.M.L. 1984. Gênese dos cordões litorâneos da parte central da costa brasileira. In: Lacerda, L.D., Araujo, D.S.D., Cerqueira, R. & Turcq, B. (Org.). Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 35-46.

Fundação Instituto Brasilero de Geografia Estatística-IBGE. 1993. Mapa de vegetação do Brasil. Map 1:5,000,000. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

HADDAD, C.F. & ABE, A.S. 1999. Anfíbios e répteis. In: Conservation International, editor, Workshop Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias para Conservação dos Biomas Floresta Atlântica e Campos Sulinos, São Paulo. http//www.conservation.org.

LACERDA, L.D., ARAUJO, D.S.D., CERQUEIRA, R. & TURCQ, B. (Org.). 1984. Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro.

MACIEL, N.C. 1984. A fauna da restinga do Estado do Rio de Janeiro: Passado, presente e futuro. Proposta de preservação. In: Lacerda, L.D., Araujo, D.S.D., Cerqueira, R. & Turcq, B. (org.). Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 269-274.

MANTOVANI, W. 1992. A vegetação sobre a restinga em Caraguatatuba, SP. In: Instituto Florestal, editor, Anais do 2 Congresso Nacional Sobre Essências Nativas, São Paulo. pp. 139-144.

MENDES, S.L. 1999. Grupo mamíferos- documento preliminar. In: Conservation International, editor, Workshop Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias para Conservação dos Biomas Floresta Atlântica e Campos Sulinos, São Paulo. http//www.conservation.org.

PONTES, A. F. 2000. Levantamento florístico da Mata da AMEM, Cabedelo, Paraíba, Brasil. Monografia de Graduação. Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Recife.

SACRAMENTO, A. C. S. 2000. Levantamento florístico da restinga da Praia do Paiva- Ponte dos Carvalhos, Cabo de Santo Agostinho B Pernambuco. Dissertação de Mestrado. Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife.

SILVA, J.G. & SOMNER, G.V. 1984. A vegetação da restinga na Barra de Maricá, RJ. In: Lacerda, L.D., Araujo, D.S.D., Cerqueira, R. & Turcq, B. (Org.). Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 217-226.

SILVA, J.M.C. & DINNOUTI, A. 1999. Análise de representatividade das unidades de conservação federais de uso indireto na Floresta Atlântica e Campos Sulinos. In: Conservation International, editor, Workshop Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias para Conservação dos Biomas Floresta Atlântica e Campos Sulinos, São Paulo. http//www.conservation.org.

SILVA, S.M. 1999. Diagnóstico das restingas do Brasil. In: Fundação Bio Rio (ed.). Workshop Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias Para a Conservação da Biodiversidade da Zona Costeira, Ilhéus. http// www.bdt.org.

SOS MATA ATLÂNTICA. 1993. Mapa de remanescentes da floresta Atlântica nordestina. In: Sociedade Nordestina de Ecologia, Conservation International e Fundação Biodiversitas (ed.). Workhop Prioridades para a Conservação da Floresta Atlântica do Nordeste, Recife. http// www.bdt.org

SOS MATA ATLÂNTICA. 1998. Atlas da evolução dos remanescentes florestais e ecossistemas associados no domínio da Mata Atlântica no período 1990-1995. Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica, Instituto Socioambiental e Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São Paulo.

SUGUIO, K. & TESSLER, M. G. 1984. Planícies e cordões litorâneos quaternários do Brasil: Origem e nomenclatura. In: Lacerda, L.D., Araujo, D.S.D., Cerqueira, R. & Turcq, B. (Org.). Restingas: origem, estrutura, processos. Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. pp. 15-26.

Veloso, H. P., Rangel-Filho, A.L.R. & LIMA, J.C.A. 1991. Classificação da vegetação brasileira adaptada a um sistema universal. IBGE, Rio de Janeiro.

Prepared by: Jose Marie C. do Silva
Reviewed by: In process

 

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