cerrado, tropical ecological region, c. 770,000 sq mi (2 million sq km), Brazil, encompassing several states and the federal district and extending into Bolivia and Paraguay. Located in the central plateau and covering one quarter of Brazil's land area, it consists of savannah, grassland, forests, and palm swamps. There are some 12,000 plant species, over one third of which are unique to the cerrado, including the pequi tree (Caryocar brasiliense) and golden grass (Syngonanthus nitens), and more than 2,300 vertebrate species, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), jaguar (Panthera onca), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), and giant anteater (Myrmechofaga tridactyla). The cerrado has a tropical seasonal climate, with a dry season from May to September and a wet season from October to April, and its rainfall feeds three large aquifers and the headwaters of the Amazon and Paraná-Paraguay basins. Although it is only about half the size of the Amazon basin, the cerrado has higher levels of deforestation, with roughly half of the area cleared for cattle ranching and agriculture, mainly soybean production. Less than a tenth of the cerrado is protected.
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