Parque Patagonia
Español | English
   

Ecology

Located in the transition zone between the arid steppe of Argentine Patagonia and the temperate southern beech forests of Chilean Patagonia, the future Patagonia National Park encompasses an array of ecosystems including grasslands, riparian forests, and wetlands. Thanks to this range of habitats, biodiversity can thrive. Species roam freely from habitat to habitat, easily adapting to changing global temperature trends with the availability of vertical gradients.

 


The dry steppe grasslands of Argentine Patagonia are characterized by minimal rainfall (less than 150 millimeters annually), cold, dry winds, and sandy soil. The Andes Mountains block moisture from flowing west, creating this arid area region only 200 miles from the ocean. A number of tough plants have been able to adapted to this harsh environment, including shrubs like calafate, quilembay and yaoyín, and tuft grasses like flechilla and coirón poa. These grasslands support hardy animals such as the burrowing owl, the gray fox, tuco-tuco, mara, armadillos, various eagle and hawk species, and keystone predators like the puma. A wide range of animals thrive in the more habitable outskirts of the desert and around ephemeral lakes formed from the Andes' runoff, where trees and more nutritious aqueous grasses can grow.

 


Moving west and climbing the vertical gradient of the Andes Mountains, the park’s flora and fauna changes notably. The landscape begins to transform into forests, which consistss mostly of three species in the southern beech (Nothofagus) genus: lenga, ñire, and coiue. Here, rainfall can reach 4,000 millimeters per year, generating dense forests, full of nutrients from high leaf litter. These forests host 370 vascular plant genera, which are vital to the survival of the surrounding fauna. Some significant mammals include the endangered huemul deer, puma, red fox, and various species of bats. The forests of the future Patagonia National Park also contain a high diversity of bird species and a range of amphibians and reptiles.

 


Throughout Patagonia, the guanaco, a large camelid that is a wild relative of the llama, is the most abundant herbivore. It feeds on 75% of all plant species in the Patagonian steppe. The guanaco acts as a keystone species: it prevents domination of grass species, acts as great dispersers and fertilizers, and has high reproductive rates, providing food for local carnivores, especially pumas.

Although the park lies on the eastern side of the Andes, its glacier-fed streams and rivers run toward the Pacific Ocean. Their turquoise blue water is some of the purest in the world, and is home to substantial populations of native fish such as perca (Percichthys trucha), pejerrey patagonico (Patagonina hatcheri) and puyen. Atlantic salmon, as well as brook, brown, and rainbow trout, have been introduced to the area.

 

 

 
Copyright 2014 Parque Patagonia| www.patagoniapark.org | Email: info@conservacionpatagonica.org | Visit Tompkins Conservation | FacebookTwitterInstagramBlog