FAUNA OVERVIEW: Mammals Birds Reptiles Invertebrates
Consider for a moment the number of habitats that are found in the Southern Cordillera. Starting with the high or alpine Andes which dominate central Patagonia with their icecaps and vile weather. These are flanked on the east by the open steppes and on the west by a cold jungle, as dense as any in the world, where only the smallest of animals can move about (such as the Pudu, world's smallest deer). To the north there is a vast swath of "Mediterranean Climate" and then the direction of the winds reverses. On the Pacific side of northern Chile and southern Peru is the Atacama, worlds's driest desert, while to the east encroaches the tropical jungles of the Amazon Basin. The Andes themselves go through a phase known as the Altiplano. with saline lakes and salt flats among volcanoes, before widening and blossoming into the mighty ranges of Peru and Bolivia. Through all of these habitats, fauna and flora have adapted.
There is an informative guide for Chile by Sharon Chester titled A Wildlife Guide to Chile. (In English, what does that say?) The writer is not aware of similar guides to other areas, but there is an interesting photo study of Argentine wildlife at www.fotosaves.com.ar, and for Chile, there are many excellent nature shots in a photostream by Juan Luis Celis.
ALSO UNDER SOUTHERN CORDILLERA