Brazil has six very large geographic ecoregions (Atlantic Rainforest, Amazon Rainforest, Cerrado, Caatinga, Pampa and Pantanal. These ecoregions are called BIOME. This presentation covers the sandbank environment called Restinga which is associated with the biome Atlantic Forest or Mata Atlântica. In the restinga the soil consist of marine deposits dating thousands of years. Basically, salt and sand. Beach grass formation. Roots are superficial and ample. Bushy vegetation. In the recent past Restingas occupied vast territory along the coast. Today the area is reduced to only 10 percent of their original coverage. They are now distributed in small patches across a human landscape of cities, towns, and agriculture. Urban expansion is the major threat to the last remnants of Atlantic Coast Restingas.
Restingas are a rich ecosystem with important biological diversity (fauna and flora) and many endemic species, some already extinct and many threatened to the same fate. In fact, the National Parks created by the government to protect this ecosystem are classifed by specialists to be critically threatened. “Protecting this diversity while meeting the needs of growing metropolitan and rural populations is a serious challenge”, says WWF.
Bromeliads are generous creatures. In the restinga, some act as pioneers, that is, they help to form vegetation islands which may favour the entry of other species into this community. “The ability to colonize bare sand (which may reach temperatures as high as 70°C during mid-summer at the peak of radiation) via seeds is restricted to a few species… Seeds of drought-resistant plants such as cacti and bromeliads require shade provided by shrubs to germinate. Small vegetation islands formed by the palm, cacti… and bromeliads [e.g. Aechmea nudicaulis (L.) Griseb and Neoregelia Cruenta (Graham) L.B. Sm.] favour the entry of woody species.” *¹
A complete list of the flora of the Restinga (142 families and more than 1500 species) is found in http://www.restinga.net/
The Bromeliacea list is here: http://www.restinga.net/flora_detail.asp?family=19
Photos below are best viewed with a monitor resolution of 1480 x 1020 pixels and with low luminosity in the room. So dim your lights and enjoy what mother Nature offers us.
Thank you, Oscar Rio, October 2007.
*¹Fabio S. Scarano in (http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/90/4/517
More information can be found here: