Parañá-Paraíba interior forests

July 21, 2012, 8:25 am
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Morpo de Diablo Hill, Brazil Photograph by C.U. Padua

Also known as Alto Parana Atlantic forests, this area, extending through southern Brazil, and western Argentina and Paraguay, represents the largest portions of the Brazilian Atlantic semi-deciduous forest region. This region serves as a corridors for species migration between moist and semi-deciduous forests and also between Atlantic forests and Cerrado habitats. Due to this, species richness is high, although endemism is relatively low. Only five percent of the original forest remains. There are a number of protected areas; however, timber extraction, agriculture and hunting threaten the remaining small patches of forest.

Location and General Description

Parana/Parnaíba interior forests represent a large block of Atlantic semi-deciduous forest spread from Southeast Brazil and Paraguay to northern Argentina. The climate is subtropical with annual precipitation around 1,200 to 1,600 millimeters (mm). In the dry season, from April through September, frosts occur frequently. The ancient plateaus and slopes of the Brazilian Plateau occupies this portion of Brazil. Soils throughout the ecoregion range from the fertile to impoverished latosols and podzols. Forests are spread from river plains to middle-level plateaus at 800 meters (m) elevation.

The main vegetation type of this ecoregion is Atlantic semi-deciduous forest, with an emergent strata 35 m tall. Canopy layers are populated largely by tree species of the families Lauraceae, Apocynaceae, Leguminosae and their respective genera Ocotea, Aspidosperma, and Machaerium. Some focal tree species include Cariniana estrellensis, Copaifera langsdorfii, Alchornea triplinervia, and Aspidosperma polyneuron. Gallery forests and flooded grasslands are also found bordering the ecoregions larger rivers. Richness of plant and animal species that characterizes semi-deciduous forests sets this ecoregion apart from other portions of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. About 40 percent of tree canopy species are deciduous or semi-deciduous.

Biodiversity Features

caption Capybara. (Photograph by Claudio Valladarez Padua)

Parana/Paranaíba interior forests represent the largest portions of the Brazilian Atlantic semi-deciduous forest ecoregion. These forests are rich in species of Leguminosae, Myrtaceae, Lauraceae, and Rutaceae. In the Brazilian State of São Paulo alone, at least 662 woody plant species have been described. Plant species are distributed along elevational and latitudinal gradients, producing singular plant species composition through out the ecoregion along the lines of elevation.

Paraná/Paranaíba interior forests are home to Atlantic rare vertebrates such as the golden-rumped lion tamarin (Leontophitecus chysopygus) and the brown howler monkey (Alouatta fusca), which have a few populations scattered in the remaining remnants of these forests. Dozens of threatened plants such as Trichilia elegans and Persea punctata and mammals including Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) are found in this coastal forest ecoregion. Some representative birds of the ecoregion include black-fronted piping-guan (Pipile jacutinga), helmeted woodcreeper (Dryocopus galeatus), and São Paulo tyrannulet (Phylloscartes paulistus). From an evolutionary point of view, Parana/Paranaíba interior forests have played a key role as corridors for species migration between moist and semi-deciduous forests and also between Atlantic forests and Cerrado habitats.

Parana/Paraiba interior forests represent the largest and best protected portions of the Brazilian Atlantic semideciduous forest. These forests are rich in species of Leguminosae, Myrtaceae, Lauraceae and Ruraceae. Only in São Paulo Brazilian state, at least, 662 woody plant species are found. Plant species are distributed along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients, producing singular plant species composition.

Current Status

caption Black Lion Tamarin. (Photograph by WWF/ Russ Hittermeier)

Parana/Paranaíba forests have been reduced in area by 95 percent in Brazil. Remaining vegetation is represented by approximately 17,211 km2 of semi-deciduous forests. The largest blocks of forest (300 to 1,000 km2 are protected public areas, but thousands of 0.01 to 1 km2 remnants, surrounded by pastures and agriculture, represent the dominant biological scenery.

Types and Severity of Threats

Such remnants are expected to lose a significant part of their biodiversity due to the increase of lianas and ruderal species. Protected areas occupy only 1,866.3 km2 of this semi-deciduous forest ecoregion. Timber extraction, agriculture and hunting represent continuous threats to the biodiversity of Paraná/Paraiba forests. Such activities will increase the pressure on timber trees, game species, and large carnivores.

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation

Most Brazilian expertise recognize Parana/Paraíba interior forests as a distinct dry extension of the Atlantic coastal forest set along the depression of Paraná river and its tributaries. Broad scale delineations for these interior forests in southern Brazil were based on the vegetative classifications of the IBGE map. Linework was derived by lumping current vegetative coverage of the IBGE map into their historic limits, including: "secondary semideciduous forests" and "secondary deciduous forest". The boundary for the extension between Bahia forests and Serra do Mar forests was drawn along the Rio Grande, Rio Preto, and Rio Paraiba to the north and along the "dense ombrophilous forest" delineation, to separate this from these floristically distinct forests. The linework was then refined at a priority setting workshop, which also established the borders along the western boundary with the Humid Chaco. The historic extension of this ecoregion into Argentina was according to Morello, Daniele and Natenzon, and Cabrera.

Additional Information on this Ecoregion

Further Reading

  • Cabrera, A. L. 1976. Regiones fitogeográficas Argentinas. Enciclopedia Argentina de Agricultura y Jardinería, Second Edition, Vol. II, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Campos, J.B. (Org.). 1999. Parque Nacional Ilha Grande. Instituto Ambiental do Paraná, Maringá.
  • Cullen Jr, L. & Pádua, C.V. 1999. Onças como detetives da paisagem. Ciência Hoje 26:54-57.
  • Cullen Jr. L., Bodmer, R.E. & Pádua, C.V. 1999. Caça e biodiversidade nos fragmentos florestais da Mata Atlântica, São Paulo, Brasil. In: T.G. Fang, O.L. Montenegro, and R.E. Bodmer, editors, Manejo y conservación de fauna silvestre en America Latina. University of Florida, Florida.
  • Daniele, C., and C. Natenzon. 1994. Regiones Naturales de la Argentina. Draft map. Argentina National Parks Department, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Fundação Instituto Brasilero de Geografia Estatástica-IBGE. 1993. Mapa de vegetação do Brasil. Map 1:5,000,000. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Gibss, P.E.& Leitão Filho, H.F. 1978. Floristic composition of an area of gallery forest near Mogi Guaçu, state of São Paulo, S.E. Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Botânica. 1:151-156.
  • Klein, R.M. 1985. Síntese ecológica da floresta estacional da bacia do rio Jacuí e importância do reflorestamento com essências nativas (RS). Comunicações do Museu da PUCRS, Série Botânica 32:25-48.
  • Leitão Filho, H.F. 1992. A flora arbórea da Serra do Japi. In: Morellato, L.P.C. (org.). História Natural da Serra do Japi: Ecologia e preservação de uma área florestal no Sudeste do Brasil. Editora da UNICAMP, Campinas. pp. 40-63.
  • Lima, A.R. & Capobianco, J.P.R. (Org.). 1997. Mata Atlântica: avanços legais e institucionais para sua conservação. Documentos do ISA n° 4.
  • Mantovani, W. 1993. Estrutura e dinâmica da floresta Atlântica na Juréia, Iguape-SP. Tese de Livre Docência. Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo.
  • Marinho-Filho, J. 1992. Os mamíferos da Serra do Japí. In: Morellato, L.P.C. (org.). História Natural da Serra do Japi: Ecologia e preservação de uma área florestal no Sudeste do Brasil. Editora da UNICAMP, Campinas. pp. 264-286.
  • Morellato, L.P.C., Rodrigues, R.R., Leitão Filho, H.F. & Joly, C.A. 1989. Estudo comparativo da fenologia de espécies arbóreas de altitude e floresta semidecídua na Serra do Japi, Jundiaí, São Paulo. Revista Brasileira de Botânica 12:85-98.
  • Morello, J. 1968. La vegetación de la República Argentina, No. 10: Las grandes unidades de vegetación y ambiente del Chaco Argentino. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Rodrigues, R.R. & Shepherd, G.J. 1992. Análise da variação estrutural e fisionômica da vegetação e características edáficas, num gradiente altitudinal na Serra do Japi. In: Morellato, L.P.C. (org.). História Natural da Serra do Japi: Ecologia e preservação de uma área florestal no Sudeste do Brasil. Editora da UNICAMP, Campinas. pp. 64-96.
  • Salis, S.M., Shepherd, G.J. & Joly, C.A. 1995. Floristic composition of mesophytic semideciduous forests of the interior of the state of São Paulo, Southeast Brazil. Vegetatio 119:155-164.
  • SÃO PAULO. 1998. Fauna ameaçada no Estado de São Paulo. Secretaria do Meio Ambiente, Série PROBIO, São Paulo.
  • SÃO PAULO. 1999. Espécies da flora ameaçadas de extinção no Estado de São Paulo: lista preliminar. Secretaria do Meio Ambiente, São Paulo.
  • 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 (ed.). Workshop Avaliação e Ações Prioritárias para Conservação dos Biomas Floresta Atlântica e Campos Sulinos, São Paulo. http//
  • 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.
  • Tabarelli, M., Mantovani, W. & Peres, C.A. 1999. Effects of habitat fragmentation on plant guild structure in the montane Atlantic forest of southeastern Brazil. Biological Conservation 91:119-127.
  • 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.
  • Viana, V. M., Tabanez, A.J. & Batista, J.L. 1997. Dynamics and restoration of forest fragments in the Brazilian Atlantic moist forest. In: Laurance, W.F. & Bierregaard Jr., R.O. editors, Tropical forest remnants: ecology, management, and conservation of fragmented communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. pp. 351-365. ISBN: 0226468992
  • WWF et al. In prep. Priority setting workshop for Parana-Paraiba ecoregion. Foz do Iquazu April, 2000.

Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the World Wildlife Fund. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the World Wildlife Fund should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.




Fund, W. (2012). Parañá-Paraíba interior forests. Retrieved from


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