Located on the southwestern coast of Brazil, this mangrove forest ecoregion is characterized by a hot, humid climate. Important for a number of migrant bird species, this area also provides habitat for scarlet ibis, which until recently was though to be locally extinct. This ecoregion lies in the most densely populated part of Brazil, however an effort is being made to restore much of the natural habitat which has been damaged by humans.
Location and General Description
This ecoregion encompasses a series of isolated patches of mangroves that extend from the estuary of the River Paraíba do Sul, near São João da Barra, State of Rio de Janeiro, to the island of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, State of Santa Catarina. The largest patch is on the border between the states of São Paulo and Parnaguá and includes some important sites such as Iguape, Ilha Comprida, Cananéia, and Baia de Parnaguá. Other patches are located near the following places: Baia da Guanabara, Restinga da Marambaia, Baia da Ilha Grande, Santos/Cubatão/Bertioga, Baia de São Francisco, Florianópolis, and Tubarão. The climate of this ecoregion is mostly tropical humid without any dry months. Annual average rainfall ranges from 1,500 to 2,500 millimeters (mm). Annual average temperature varies from 15 to 24oC.
Characteristic vegetation for the mangroves of this ecoregion are Avicennia schaueriana, Laguncularia racemosa, and Rhizophora mangle. The presence of these three species varies among sites. At some sites, only one species is present, whereas at other sites 2 or 3 species are found together. Some species, such as Hibiscus tiliaceus, Crinum attenuatum, Spartina brasiliensis, Fimbristilys glomerata, and Acrostichum aureum are regarded as invaders. The structure of the vegetation varies according to the environmental factors and age of the mangrove. Along the coast of São Paulo, the vegetation is 5 to 10 meters (m) tall with tree density varying from 60,000 to 963,000 individuals per sqaure kilometer (km2).
Ilha Grande mangroves are extremely diverse, harboring a set of unique species. In addition to providing refuge and nursery habitat for juvenile fish, crabs, shrimp, and mollusks, mangroves of this ecoregion are key ecosystems for several migrant birds that move seasonally along the Brazilian Coast. Very remarkable is the fact that a typical mangrove species, the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), thought to be extirpated from a large part of its range, has been found in Cubatão since 1982, indicating a new wave of colonization to this ecoregion. Well-protected mangroves on the São Paulo and Paraná are important for some species of parrots, such as the orange-winged parrot (Amazona amazonica). Locally, it has been reported that 36 species of birds, 21 of crustaceans, 58 of fish, and 16 mollusks from a sample of mangrove sites around Santos and Bertioga, São Paulo.
Ilha Grande mangroves are in the most densely populated region of Brazil. As a result, most of the original vegetation has been modified. Urban expansion, timber extraction and pollution from industry are the most important factors that cause environmental degradation in this ecoregion.
Types and Severity of Threats
A great effort has been made to protect and restore some of this ecoregion’s critical mangrove habitat. Areas of Environmental Protection (Cairuçu, Cananéia-Iguape-Peruíbe, and Guaraqueçaba) have been demarcated along the coast to guarantee a sustainable use of the mangroves resources by local people. The successful return of an extirpated species, such as the scarlet ibis, might indicate that is possible to recover at least part of the original biota of this ecoregion.
Additional information on this ecoregion
- For a shorter summary of this entry, see the WWF WildWorld profile of this ecoregion
- To see the species that live in this ecoregion, including images and threat levels, see the WWF Wildfinder description of this ecoregion.
- World Wildlife Fund Homepage
- Ecoregional Workshop: A Conservation Assessment of Mangrove Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. 1994. Washington D.C., World Wildlife Fund.
- Lamparelli, C.C., and D.O. Moura. 1999. [1999. Mapeamento dos ecossistemas costeiros do Estado de São Paulo Mapeamento dos ecossistemas costeiros do Estado de São Paulo]. Secretaria do Meio Ambiente/CETESB, São Paulo.
- Naka, L.N., and M. Rodrigues. 2000. As aves da Ilha de Santa Catarina. Editora da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis.
- Nimer, E. 1979. Climatologia do Brasil. IBGE/SUPREN, Rio de Janeiro.
- Olson, D.M., E. Dinerstein, G. Cintrón, and P. Iolster. 1996. A conservation assessment of mangrove ecosystems of Latin America and the Caribbean. Final report for The Ford Foundation. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.
- Sick, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil: A natural history. Princeton University Press, Princeton.ISBN: 0691085692.
- Spalding, Mark, Francois Nlasco and Colin Field.1997. World Mangrove Atlas. The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems. Smith Settle, Otley, West Yrokshire, UK. ISBN: 1902647483.
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