New World Tropics (Neotropics)
Tropical America has a distinctive flora including the Cactaceae and Bromeliaceae. Forests are dominated by Leguminosae (e.g. Andira, Dalbergia, Apuleia), Meliaceae (Cedrela, Swietenia), Euphorbiaceae (Hevea), Moraceae (Cecropia) and Lecythidaceae (Bertholletia).
The Amazon basin contains the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in the world and this is known for the high rate of loss due to deforestation. In contrast the tepuis of the Guiana Shield in northern South America, although highly sensitive to disturbance, are perhaps the least threatened habitats due to their extreme isolation. Auyantepui is surrounded by cliffs, isolating it from the savannah and forests below, from which Angel Falls drops nearly a kilometre.
The american tropics have provided Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) and Rubber (Hevea braziliensis) as well as pineapple (Ananas comosus) from the lowlands and potato (Solanum tuberosum), tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and cocaine (Erythroxylon coca) from the highlands.
The brazilian coastal forest (Mata Atlantica) is some of the most threatened habitat in the world and famously home tot he Golden Lion Tamarin.
- Bromeliaceae (Bromeliad family), unique to the Americas has over 3000 species
- The Amazon Rainforest covers over 1.4 billion acres, over 50% of world rainforest
- Potato, tomato and tobacco, all Solanaceae, are from tropical America
- The sandstone Tepuis of the Guyana Shield inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Lost World’
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