Patagonian Steppe

About the Area

The Patagonian Steppe has a dry climate, low seasonal rainfall with grasses and shrubby vegetation dominating the landscape.
The ecoregion supports regionally distinctive communities of mammals, birds, and plants (30 per cent endemism in 1,200 vascular species).

Local Species
Found here are six endemic plant genera, usually represented by only a few species: Philippiella, Neobaclea, Xerodraba, Benhamiella, Eriachaenium, and Duseniella.

Bird species include Rosy-billed pochard (Netta peposaca), Austral rail (Rallus antarcticus), and the endemic Magellanic plover (Pluvianellus socialis).

Mammals found among these habitats include two Opossums (Thylamys pusilla and the endemic Lestodelphys halli), four endemic Tuco-tucos (Ctenomys spp.), Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), Gray fox (Pseudalopex griseus), Mountain lion (Puma concolor), Pampas cat (Oncifelis colocolo), and Patagonian hare (Dolichotis patagonum).

Threats
Overgrazing and associated erosion, desertification, government-sponsored predator control (e.g. foxes), indiscriminate use of poisons, conversion for agriculture, introduced herbivores, and burning are major threats.

Resources

Size:
487,000 sq. km (188,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Argentina and Chile

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Quiz Time!

What kinds of opossums are found in this ecoregion?

Answer:
Two unusual opossums inhabit the Patagonian Steppe. One is the tiny dwarf mouse-opossum, which has a body length of only 4 inches (10 cm)! The other is the rare Patagonia opossum, so poorly known that most records of it come from the remains found in regurgitated owl pellets!

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