The Brazilian cerrado is not a biome

It is important to define correctly a given concept, because there may be immediate and practical implications. Two important concepts to be accurately defined are "cerrado" and "biome". As used in Brazil, the concept of biome has erroneously acquired a floristic meaning. As a matter of fact, the concept of biome is close to that of vegetation form, but takes into account the association between the vegetation and the animals and microorganisms. Thus, on the one hand, the concept of biome is physiognomic and functional, that is, it takes into account the general aspect of the vegetation, growth patterns, and reproduction patterns; on the other hand, it is not floristic, that is, the taxonomic affinities of the species that occur in different regions of the same biome are irrelevant. To be coherent with international literature and use accurately the concept of biome, we should consider the Brazilian cerrado as being composed of three biomes: tropical grassland (campo limpo), savanna (campo sujo, campo cerrado, and cerrado sensu stricto), and seasonal forest (cerradão).

physiognomy; savanna; terminology; vegetation form

Instituto Virtual da Biodiversidade | BIOTA - FAPESP Departamento de Biologia Vegetal - Instituto de Biologia, UNICAMP CP 6109, 13083-970 - Campinas/SP, Tel.: (+55 19) 3521-6166, Fax: (+55 19) 3521-6168 - Campinas - SP - Brazil