The Neotropical ecozone incorporates South and Central America, plus the southern part of Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Florida.
The Neotropic includes more tropical rainforest than any other ecozone, including the vast Amazon Rainforest. Prior to the formation of the Isthmus of Panama two to three million years ago North and South America where separate land masses.
The Neotropic ecozone includes 31 endemic bird families (over twice the number of any other ecozone) including rheas, curassows, toucans and hummingbirds. Mammal groups unique to the Neotropics include anteaters, sloths, armadillos, New World monkeys, and rodents such as capybaras, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.
Broadleaf forests are the dominant habitat of the UK and most of temperate northern Europe. There's little left of Britain's ancient wildwood, but isolated pockets of oak, beech and mixed deciduous and evergreen woodlands are scattered across the continent, and dictate its biodiversity.
Coastal cliffs are the rocky land edges that face the sea. These are complex and diverse habitats that lie above the water line, where exposure to salty spray, wind, sun and rain all play their part, as does the type of rock.
Desert and dry scrubland describes any area that receives less than 250mm of rainfall a year. Not just the endless, baking sand dunes of popular conception, it includes arid areas in temperate regions.
Flooded grasslands are the half grassland, half wetland typified by the Florida Everglades, the marshes of Southern Iraq and the Pantanal of Brazil. They may be permanently or seasonally flooded, which has an obvious effect on what kinds of plant and animal species found here.
Mangrove forests grow on tropical coasts with soft soils and are flooded twice daily by the tide. They are important nursery areas for many species of fish.
Mediterranean forest includes the fynbos of South Africa, the matorral of Chile and forests in parts of California. Hot, dry summers, contrast with much milder, wetter winters.
Mountain grasslands such as those in the Ethiopian highlands, on the Tibetan Plateau and up in the Andes, include the alpine tundra above the treeline as well as grasslands below it. These high altitude grasslands often exist as isolated 'islands' in a sea of another habitat type.
Rainforests are the world's powerhouses, the most vital habitats on the planet. Characterised by high rainfall, they only cover 6% of the Earth across the tropical regions, but they contain more than half of its plant and animal species.
Temperate grasslands include the prairies of North America, the steppes of Russia and the pampas of Argentina. Summers here are mild to hot and the winters can sometimes be very cold – for instance, blizzards can blanket the great plains of the United States.
Tropical coniferous forests may sound like an odd concept to northern Europeans who associate conifers with cooler northern climes. However, their ability to conserve moisture is the perfect adaptation for certain areas of the tropics and subtropics where conditions are drier year round.
Tropical dry forests, in contrast to rainforest, have to survive a long dry season each year, so the predominantly deciduous trees shed their leaves to cope with it. Sunlight can then reach the ground, so the season that's bad for the trees is good for the forest floor.
Tropical grasslands include the savanna usually associated with Africa, and savanna-type grasslands found in India, Australia, Nepal and the Americas. They are characterised by drought-resistant shrubs and grasses, dotted with trees such as acacias or baobabs.
The Neotropic ecozone is one of the eight ecozones dividing the Earth's surface.
Physically, it includes the tropical terrestrial ecoregions of both Americas and the entire South American temperate zone.
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