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Frontiers of Biogeography

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12,500+ and counting: biodiversity of the Brazilian Pampa


Knowledge on biodiversity is fundamental for conservation strategies. The Brazilian Pampa region, located in subtropical southern Brazil, is neglected in terms of conservation, and knowledge of its biodiversity is fragmented. We aim to answer the question: how many, and which, species occur in the Brazilian Pampa? In a collaborative effort, we built species lists for plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi that occur in the Brazilian Pampa. We included information on distribution patterns, main habitat types, and conservation status. Our study resulted in referenced lists totaling 12,503 species (12,854 taxa, when considering infraspecific taxonomic categories [or units]). Vascular plants amount to 3,642 species (including 165 Pteridophytes), while algae have 2,046 species (2,378 taxa) and bryophytes 316 species (318 taxa). Fungi (incl. lichenized fungi) contains 1,141 species (1,144 taxa). Animals total 5,358 species (5,372 taxa). Among the latter, vertebrates comprise 1,136 species, while invertebrates are represented by 4,222 species. Our data indicate that, according to current knowledge, the Pampa holds approximately 9% of the Brazilian biodiversity in an area of little more than 2% of Brazil’s total land. The proportion of species restricted to the Brazilian Pampa is low (with few groups as exceptions), as it is part of a larger grassland ecoregion and in a transitional climatic setting. Our study yielded considerably higher species numbers than previously known for many species groups; for some, it provides the first published compilation. Further efforts are needed to increase knowledge in the Pampa and other regions of Brazil. Considering the strategic importance of biodiversity and its conservation, appropriate government policies are needed to fund studies on biodiversity, create accessible and constantly updated biodiversity databases, and consider biodiversity in school curricula and other outreach activities.

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