Río Pilcomayo National Park
The Río Pilcomayo National Park is a national park located in the northeastern part of the Argentine province of Formosa, on the border with Paraguay. Established on September 29, 1951 to protect the natural features, typical of the Humid Chaco ecoregion, the park is included in the Ramsar Convention's list of wetlands of international importance; the park occupies a large plain, formed when a depression in Paleozoic crystalline rocks was filled with organic and inorganic sediments, thus creating a sedimentary basin. The uppermost sediment levels are of aeolian origin; the eastern parts of the park are dominated by silts and clays, creating less permeable soils, while the western parts contain soils that are coarser and more porous. There are faults that were generated during formation of the Andes, lying parallel to the Paraguay River. While the park's territory is sloping down from west to east, there is little variety in elevation; the subtle differences become important in times of heavy rains and floods, when the area becomes inundated with pools of water connected by channels forming in the most low-lying areas.
The Pilcomayo River, after which the park is named, is the main watercourse of the area. During the wet season, the river and its tributaries flood the nearby areas, creating large swaths of interconnected lakes and marshes, most of which are temporary; the southern end of the park contains a larger lake called Laguna Blanca, a habitat for many waterfowl species and a resting point for migratory bird species coming from the Northern Hemisphere. The park is located in a subtropical zone with annual mean temperature of 23 °C and annual mean precipitation of 1,200 millimetres. Summer temperatures can exceed 40 °C. Winters are dry, while precipitation peaks in November; the area is affected by frequent tornadoes. For the purposes of classifying the park's types of plants, the area can be divided into 4 distinct zones. One is savanna, dominated by the Caranday wax palm, an unofficial emblem of the area, towering over a dense cover of herbaceous plants. Other trees include such species as Acacia caven and Prosopis nigra.
Wetlands are dominated by aquatic vegetation. Floating plants include water hyacinths, Limnocharitaceae and Ludwigia. Another distinct zone is adjacent to the Pilcomayo River and its former channels, which are flooded, it is dominated by riparian vegetation. Figs and sweetwood trees can be found there, covered by many species of lianas and epiphytes; the patchy vegetation of the higher lands, forming distinctive "mountain islands", represent the fourth zone. Quebracho trees can be found there. Higher lands are inhabited by such mammals as the gray brocket, peccary, howler monkey and puma; the maned wolf can be found in the lowlands, along with such birds as seriemas. Aquatic environments are inhabited by storks, roseate spoonbills and ducks. There are two caiman species: the yacare caiman; the fish population includes species from the Hoplosternum that can use atmospheric air and thus tolerate droughts that affect shallow water bodies in the area. The snake population is represented by species such as the yellow anaconda and Hydrodynastes gigas, a large water snake
International Union for Conservation of Nature
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, field projects and education. IUCN's mission is to "influence and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable". Over the past decades, IUCN has widened its focus beyond conservation ecology and now incorporates issues related to sustainable development in its projects. Unlike many other international environmental organisations, IUCN does not itself aim to mobilize the public in support of nature conservation, it tries to influence the actions of governments and other stakeholders by providing information and advice, through building partnerships. The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
IUCN has a membership of over 1400 non-governmental organizations. Some 16,000 scientists and experts participate in the work of IUCN commissions on a voluntary basis, it employs 1000 full-time staff in more than 50 countries. Its headquarters are in Switzerland. IUCN has observer and consultative status at the United Nations, plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity, it was involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. In the past, IUCN has been criticized for placing the interests of nature over those of indigenous peoples. In recent years, its closer relations with the business sector have caused controversy. IUCN was established in 1948, it was called the International Union for the Protection of Nature and the World Conservation Union. Establishment IUCN was established on 5 October 1948, in Fontainebleau, when representatives of governments and conservation organizations signed a formal act constituting the International Union for the Protection of Nature.
The initiative to set up the new organisation came from UNESCO and from its first Director General, the British biologist Julian Huxley. The objectives of the new Union were to encourage international cooperation in the protection of nature, to promote national and international action and to compile and distribute information. At the time of its founding IUPN was the only international organisation focusing on the entire spectrum of nature conservation Early years: 1948–1956 IUPN started out with 65 members, its secretariat was located in Brussels. Its first work program focused on saving species and habitats and applying knowledge, advancing education, promoting international agreements and promoting conservation. Providing a solid scientific base for conservation action was the heart of all activities. IUPN and UNESCO were associated, they jointly organized the 1949 Conference on Protection of Nature. In preparation for this conference a list of gravely endangered species was drawn up for the first time, a precursor of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
In the early years of its existence IUCN depended entirely on UNESCO funding and was forced to temporarily scale down activities when this ended unexpectedly in 1954. IUPN was successful in engaging prominent scientists and identifying important issues such as the harmful effects of pesticides on wildlife but not many of the ideas it developed were turned into action; this was caused by unwillingness to act on the part of governments, uncertainty about the IUPN mandate and lack of resources. In 1956, IUPN changed its name to International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Increased profile and recognition: 1956–1965 In the 1950s and 1960s Europe entered a period of economic growth and formal colonies became independent. Both developments had impact on the work of IUCN. Through the voluntary involvement of experts in its Commissions IUCN was able to get a lot of work done while still operating on a low budget, it established links with the Council of Europe. In 1961, at the request of United Nations Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, IUCN published the first global list of national parks and protected areas which it has updated since.
IUCN's best known publication, the Red Data Book on the conservation status of species, was first published in 1964. IUCN began to play a part in the development of international treaties and conventions, starting with the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Environmental law and policy making became a new area of expertise. Africa was the focus of many of the early IUCN conservation field projects. IUCN supported the ‘Yellowstone model’ of protected area management, which restricted human presence and activity in order to protect nature. IUCN and other conservation organisations were criticized for protecting nature against people rather than with people; this model was also applied in Africa and played a role in the decision to remove the Maasai people from Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. To establish a stable financial basis for its work, IUCN participated in setting up the World Wildlife Fund
Birds known as Aves, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds range in size from the 5 cm bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are less developed depending on the species. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites and diverse endemic island species of birds; the digestive and respiratory systems of birds are uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming; the fossil record demonstrates that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from earlier feathered dinosaurs within the theropod group, which are traditionally placed within the saurischian dinosaurs.
The closest living relatives of birds are the crocodilians. Primitive bird-like dinosaurs that lie outside class Aves proper, in the broader group Avialae, have been found dating back to the mid-Jurassic period, around 170 million years ago. Many of these early "stem-birds", such as Archaeopteryx, were not yet capable of powered flight, many retained primitive characteristics like toothy jaws in place of beaks, long bony tails. DNA-based evidence finds that birds diversified around the time of the Cretaceous–Palaeogene extinction event 66 million years ago, which killed off the pterosaurs and all the non-avian dinosaur lineages, but birds those in the southern continents, survived this event and migrated to other parts of the world while diversifying during periods of global cooling. This makes them the sole surviving dinosaurs according to cladistics; some birds corvids and parrots, are among the most intelligent animals. Many species annually migrate great distances. Birds are social, communicating with visual signals and bird songs, participating in such social behaviours as cooperative breeding and hunting and mobbing of predators.
The vast majority of bird species are monogamous for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, but for life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygynous or polyandrous. Birds produce offspring by laying eggs, they are laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching; some birds, such as hens, lay eggs when not fertilised, though unfertilised eggs do not produce offspring. Many species of birds are economically important as food for human consumption and raw material in manufacturing, with domesticated and undomesticated birds being important sources of eggs and feathers. Songbirds and other species are popular as pets. Guano is harvested for use as a fertiliser. Birds prominently figure throughout human culture. About 120–130 species have become extinct due to human activity since the 17th century, hundreds more before then. Human activity threatens about 1,200 bird species with extinction, though efforts are underway to protect them.
Recreational birdwatching is an important part of the ecotourism industry. The first classification of birds was developed by Francis Willughby and John Ray in their 1676 volume Ornithologiae. Carl Linnaeus modified that work in 1758 to devise the taxonomic classification system in use. Birds are categorised as the biological class Aves in Linnaean taxonomy. Phylogenetic taxonomy places Aves in the dinosaur clade Theropoda. Aves and a sister group, the clade Crocodilia, contain the only living representatives of the reptile clade Archosauria. During the late 1990s, Aves was most defined phylogenetically as all descendants of the most recent common ancestor of modern birds and Archaeopteryx lithographica. However, an earlier definition proposed by Jacques Gauthier gained wide currency in the 21st century, is used by many scientists including adherents of the Phylocode system. Gauthier defined Aves to include only the crown group of the set of modern birds; this was done by excluding most groups known only from fossils, assigning them, instead, to the Avialae, in part to avoid the uncertainties about the placement of Archaeopteryx in relation to animals traditionally thought of as theropod dinosaurs.
Gauthier identified four different definitions for the same biological name "Aves", a problem. Gauthier proposed to reserve the term Aves only for the crown group consisting of the last common ancestor of all living birds and all of its descendants, which corresponds to meaning number 4 below, he assigned other names to the other groups. Aves can mean all archosaurs closer to birds than to crocodiles Aves can mean those advanced archosaurs with feathers Aves can mean those feathered dinosaurs that fly Aves can mean the last common ancestor of all the living birds and all of its descendants (a "c
The Patagonian Desert known as the Patagonian Steppe or Magellanic Steppe, is the largest desert in Argentina and is the 8th largest desert in the world by area, occupying 673,000 square kilometers. It is located in Argentina with small parts in Chile and is bounded by the Andes, to its west, the Atlantic Ocean to its east, in the region of Patagonia, southern Argentina. To the north the desert grades into the Pampas; the central parts of the steppe are dominated by shrubby and herbaceous plant species albeit to the west, where precipitation is higher, bushes are replaced by grasses. Topographically the deserts consist of alternating tablelands and massifs dissected by river valleys and canyons; the more western parts of the steppe host lakes of glacial origin and grades into barren mountains or cold temperate forests along valleys. Inhabited by hunter-gatherers since Pre-Hispanic times, the desert faced migration in the 19th century of Mapuches, Argentines and other European peoples, transforming it from a conflictive borderland zone to an integral part of Argentina, with cattle and horse husbandry being the primary land uses.
The Patagonian Desert is the largest of the 40° parallel and is a large cold winter desert, where the temperature exceeds 12 °C and averages just 3 °C. The region experiences five months of summer. Frost is not uncommon in the desert but, due to the dry condition year round, snow is rare; the Andes, to the desert's west, are the primary reason for the Patagonian desert status as they inhibit the westerly flow of moisture from the southern Pacific from reaching inland. This creates a rain shadow that accounts for the formation of the desert and is why, despite half of the desert being only about 200 miles from the ocean, such a large desert is found in the region; the cold Falkland Current off the Atlantic coast of South America contributes to the area's aridity. Different climates can be distinguished: the coast north of the 45th parallel is much milder because of the warm currents from Brazil, the entire northern half of the region is warmer in the summer, when sunny weather predominates. Daily temperatures in the summer reach 31 °C in the Rio Colorado region, a general 26 °C to 29 °C in the northern coast, 24 °C to 28 °C in the northern plain, with nights around 12 °C to 15 °C in the coast and between 7 °C and 10 °C in the steppe.
In the south, summer temperatures decrease from 22 °C to only 16 °C along the coast, from 24 °C to 17 °C along the steppes, while nights go from 8 °C to 11 °C on the coast, from 6 °C to 10 °C in the steppe. During the winter, the proximity to the coast and the altitude are the main factors: while northern coastal areas have mild winters, from 2 °C at night to about 11 °C during the day, southern Santa Cruz ranges from -2 °C to 5 °C, Tierra del Fuego, from -3 °C to 3 °C, for a mean of 0 °C. Inland, the northern areas range from 0 °C to 10 °C in low areas, from -5 °C to 5 °C on the plateaus, while in the south, low areas range from -3 °C to 4 °C, higher areas are below 0 °C; the coldest spots register temperatures between -20 °C and -25 °C during cold waves, the official record is -33.9 °C in Chubut province. However, some towns claim to have had records of around -35 °C. Summer frost is common everywhere except for the northern coast, sleet and light snow can fall during the warm season. Winds are constant and strong, from the west in most cases.
Before the Andes were formed, the region was covered by temperate forests. However, after the formation of the Andes, ash from nearby volcanoes covered the forests and mineral-saturated waters seeped into the logs, thus fossilizing the trees and creating one of the world's best preserved petrified forests in the desert's center; the Patagonian is composed of gravel plains and plateaus with sandstone canyons and clay shapes dotting the landscape, sculpted by the desert wind. The region encompassing the desert, has many diverse features. Ephemeral rivers and drainage deposits from the Andes' spring melt form annually, hosting a variety of waterfowl and aquatic grasses. A variety of glacial and volcanic deposits are found in the region and have affected the desert's climate over time contributing to the gravel sediments covering parts of the Patagonian; the desert is quite windy as well, a result of the rain shadow effect and descending cool mountain air. This wind helps make the Patagonian one of the largest sources of dust over the South Atlantic Ocean.
On the west the Patagonian grasslands portion of the Patagonian Desert are bounded by nothofagus forests of the Magellanic subpolar forests. Volcanic rocks covers more than 120,000 km2 of the Patagonian Desert in the Somun Cura Massif and the Deseado Massif; some other volcanic areas include the Pali-Aike Volcanic Field near the Strait of Magellan. The volcanic rocks are the result of back-arc volcanism distributed in two episodes: one in the Eocene and Miocene and the other from Late Miocene to Pleistocene. Despite the harsh desert environment, a number of animals live in the Patagonian; some only live on the more habitable and geographically-varied outskirts of the desert, where food is more abundant and the environment less hostile, but all are found within the region encompassing the Patagonian. The burrowing owl, lesser rhea, tuco-tuco, pygmy armadillo, Patagonian weasel, Patagonian gray fox, desert iguana, western ribbon snake, various species of eagle and hawk are a few of the variety of animals living in the region.
The flora of the region is
Los Cardones National Park
The Los Cardones National Park is a national park of Argentina, located in the center-west of the province of Salta, within the San Carlos and Cachi Departments, in the Argentine Northwest. The park protects an area of the Argentine Monte ecoregion; the park has an area of 650 square kilometres, with hills and ravines at the height levels between 2,700 m and 5,000 m. It gets its name from the prevalence of bush formations of cardon grande cactus, it features fossil remains of extinct animals, as well as dinosaur tracks. The protected area was created in 1996, when the National Parks Administration acquired the land from private owners. Most of the park has an arid climate, characterized by a large thermal amplitude; the park receives an average rainfall of 150 mm. Snowfall is rare in low-lying areas. Mean temperatures range from 11 °C in winter to 18 °C in summer. Administración de Parques Nacionales - National Parks Administration of Argentina
Monte León National Park
Monte León National Park is a federal protected area in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Established on 20 October 2004, it houses a representative sample of the steppe and Patagonian coast biodiversity in good state of conservation, as well as several paleontological sites of high value, it runs along 36 km of the southern Argentine Sea coastline. About 10,000–13,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer groups took advantage of the area's varied coastal environment, full of food resources; the Tehuelche people, descendants of the first settlers, expanded land use, developing a greater exchange with other, farther away groups. The arrival of the first European settlers triggered major changes in the original populations: the gradual increase of product exchange dependency and loss of territory caused migrations towards the west of the province and the incorporation of the original settlers into rural tasks. In early 1876, during the presidency of Nicolás Avellaneda and because of increasing tension regarding neighboring Chile's expansion attempts over Argentine Patagonia, Buenos Aires started issuing authorizations for the exploitation of guano in the zone 35 km south of the Santa Cruz River, where 17 years earlier the Argentine commander Luis Piedrabuena had established an outpost.
In April the governor of Punta Arenas, Diego Dublé Almeyda, sent the gunboat Magallanes with orders of sinking any Argentine vessels in the area. The French boat Jeanne-Amelie, authorized by Avellaneda's administration, was boarded and its crew imprisoned by the Chilean forces, an incident that worsened the bilateral relationship. Two years Chile once again seized a vessel in Monte León: this time it was the United States' ship Devonshire, the action put both countries at the verge of war. Francisco P. Moreno and creator of the Argentine National Park System, the paleontologist Carlos Ameghino explored the area in the late 19th century; the Italian missionary Alberto María De Agostini visited it in the early 20th century. The Estancia Monte León belonged to the Southern Patagonia Sheep Farming Company Limited, which exploited it as a sheep farm, it was sold in 1920 to the Braun family, who continued this business until 2006. The extraction of guano was profitable until 1930. In 1996 it was proposed to include Monte León in the National Park System of Argentina.
Francisco Erize, former director of the Argentine National Parks Administration, recommended the project to Douglas Tompkins, a billionaire businessman and environmentalist, director of The Conservation Land Trust, a conservationist NGO. In 2000, through the NGO Conservación Patagónica, directed by Tompkins wife, Kristine Tompkins, the farm land was acquired and transferred by land trust to Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, demanding it to be donated to the National Parks National Administration, a process finished in 2002. On 20 October 2004 the law creating the new national park was sanctioned by Congress, making Monte León the first continental marine park of Argentina. Monte León consists of high sandstone cliffs, rock formations, wide beaches interrupted by narrow bays, sandbars that are uncovered in low tide; the park's coastal sector represents about 1% of the Argentine mainland shoreline. Monte León National Park scenery The park has a cold arid or semi-arid climate with a mean annual temperature of 6.8 °C.
Temperatures during the winter months can fall below 0 °C. The park averages 250 mm of rainfall per year, concentrated in fall and winter. Average annual wind speeds range between 15 to 20 km/h although the park can experience gusts up to 100 km/h; the Patagonian steppe, while barren at first glance, is inhabited by a considerable variety of plants. In 1880, Carlos Spegazzini, the founder of botany in Argentina, identified several hitherto unknown grass species when researching the area as part of a scientific expedition financed by Italy. Aboriginal people used calafate resin as a sort of chewing gum, a custom that chroniclers linked to the good health and cleanliness of their dentures; the wild thyme is used in the local cuisine. Several other plant species found in the park have medicinal uses; as is usual for desert climates, harsh winters are followed by spectacular blooms of colorful flowers. Monte León is home to about twenty species of coastal and marine birds: several varieties of penguins, three species of cormorants, large, flightless birds known as ñandús.
Large populations of fish roam the cold sea waters. The park is home to several large mammals, including sea lions, southern right whales and roaming herds of guanacos. Sitio oficial del Parque Nacional Monte León Monte León National Park at The Conservation Land Trust Fundación Conservación Patagónica
The black-necked swan is a swan, the largest waterfowl native to South America. Adults weigh 3.5 to 6.7 kg. The wingspan ranges from 135 to 177 cm; the body plumage is white with head and greyish bill. It has a red knob near white stripe behind eye; the sexes are similar, with the female smaller. The cygnet has a light grey plumage with black bill and feet; the black-necked swan was placed in monotypic genus, Sthenelides. The black-necked swan, like its nearest relatives the black and mute swan is silent. Unlike most wildfowl, both parents carry the cygnets on their backs; the female lays four to six eggs in a nest of vegetation mound. The diet consists of vegetation and fish spawn; the smallest member in its genus, it is found in freshwater marshes and lake shores in southern South America. The black-necked swan breeds in Chilean Southern Zone, Tierra del Fuego and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, this species migrates northwards to southern Brazil; the wetlands created by the Great Chilean earthquake like Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary in Cruces River have become important population centers for the black-necked swan.
In 2004 and 2005 thousands of black-necked swans in the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary in Chile died or migrated away following major contamination by Valdivia Pulp Mill located on the Cruces River which feeds the wetlands. By August 2005 the birds in the Sanctuary had been "wiped out". Autopsies on dead swans attributed the deaths to high levels of iron and other metals polluting the water. Widespread and common throughout its habitat, the black-necked swan is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is listed on Appendix II of CITES. David, N. & Gosselin, M.. "Gender agreement of avian species names." Bull. B. O. C. 122: 14-49. BirdLife Species Factsheet Black-necked Swan videos on the Internet Bird Collection Stamps with RangeMap Black-necked Swan photo gallery VIREO