The Endemic Plants of Chile

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The Chilean semi-desert is located in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions but also includes an area a little further south; this is known as Norte Chico which extends from the southern border of the Atacama Desert to just north of Santiago. This habitat includes a continuous range of mountains, due to the Andes and the coastal mountains being joined together as a result of tectonic movement. The highest mountains can be found in the Andes, with 20 peaks being over 6000 m in altitude. The aridity in the semidesert decreases from north to south with increasing rainfall, due to the arrival of winter fronts. In turn, it increases in the mountain ranges with a rise in altitude. The temperatures are relatively uniform, decreasing towards the south from 15ºC to 13ºC on the coast. In the interior, the relief is of great importance and is notable for its microclimates. Vegetation coverage increases as one moves south, passing through steppe, shrubland and relict forests. In many areas the vegetation cover has become much modified or even totally replaced as a result of intensive agricultural practices and the establishment of extensive vineyards.

Endemic Taxa in Semidesert