In the animal kingdom, there is general consensus, that Brazil has the highest number of both terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates of any country in the world. This high diversity of fauna can be explained in part by the sheer size of Brazil and the great variation in ecosystems such as Amazon Rainforest, Atlantic Forest and Cerrado. The numbers published about Brazil's fauna diversity vary from source to source, as taxonomists sometimes disagree about species classifications, and information can be incomplete or out-of-date. Also, new species continue to be discovered and some species go extinct in the wild. Brazil has the highest diversity of primates (77 species) and freshwater fish (over 3000 species) of any country in the world. It also claims the highest number of mammals with 524 species, the second highest number of amphibians with 517 species and butterflies with 3,150 species, the third highest number of birds with 1,622 species, and fifth number of reptiles with 468 species. There is a high number of endangered species, many of which live in threatened habitats such as the Atlantic Forest or the Amazon Rainforest.
Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Brazil. According to a 2005 estimate by Thomas M. Lewinsohn and Paulo I. Prado, Brazil is home to around 9.5% of all the species and 13.1% of biota found in the world; these figures are likely to be underestimates according to the authors.
Enough is known about Brazilian fungi to say with confidence that the number of native species must be very high and very diverse: in work almost entirely limited to the state of Pernambuco, during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, more than 3300 species were observed by a single group of mycologists Given that current best estimates suggest only about 7% of the world's true diversity of fungal species has so far been discovered, with most of the known species having been described from temperate regions, the number of fungal species occurring in Brazil is likely to be far higher.
Because it encompasses many species-rich ecosystems for animals, fungi and plants, Brazil houses many thousands of species, with many (if not most) of them still undiscovered. Due to the relatively explosive economic and demographic rise of the country in the last century, Brazil's ability to protect its environmental habitats has increasingly come under threat. Extensive logging in the nation's forests, particularly the Amazon, both official and unofficial, destroys areas the size of a small country each year, and potentially a diverse variety of plants and animals. However, as various species possess special characteristics, or are built in an interesting way, some of their capabilities are being copied for use in technology (see bionics), and the profit potential may result in a retardation of deforestation.
Ecoregions[edit source | edit]