chapter  5
20 Pages

Flux Dynamics in the Cerrado and Cerrado–Forest Transition of Brazil

ByGeorge Louis Vourlitis and Humberto Ribeiro da Rocha

The savanna vegetation of Brazil is referred to as cerrado, which is the Portuguese word for “dense,” “thick,” or “closed.” Cerrado covers approximately 1.5-2 million km2, or 20-25% of the total land cover of Brazil, and is the second largest vegetation type after the Amazonian forest (Furley and Ratter, 1988; Fearnside, 2000). Contiguous cerrado covers over 10 states, from Piauí and Maranhão to the north; Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Mato Grosso do Sul to the south; and Rondônia to the west (Figure 5.1), corresponding to a 20° range in latitude and 0-1800 m range in elevation (Ratter et al., 1997). Biodiversity, including known plants, animals, and fungi, is estimated to be 160,000 species (Oliveira and Marquis, 2002).