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Chiloé: Flora and Fauna
Thanks to being an island Chiloé has evolved a rich biology that impressed Charles Darwin in the 19th century. The exuberant natural life stems from millions of years ago with a great variety of flora and fauna including Marsupials like kangaroos, araucarias trees and coigües that evolved in isolation.

The 443 species of flora are grouped into 205 genera and 96 families. In other words there are relatively few individual species within each biological grouping. For instance among the trees 26 genera (81%) have only one endemic species. This is evidence for the long isolation experienced by the temperate forests of Chiloé. The fauna is very similar: 50% of the freshwater fish, 76% of amphibians, 33% of mammals and 30% of birds are endemic to these temperate forests. An example being the monito del monte, an endemic species that is the only representative of the Microbiotheria, an ancestral branch of the marsupials.

In conclusion the singular characteristics of our southern forests, their high number of endemic species and the dominance of flowering plants rather than conifers as in similar forests in the northern hemisphere (in Chile all the species of pine have been introduced) is a result of the island's origin in Gondwanaland and prolonged isolation.

(From: El Bosque Chilote – Defensores del Bosque chileno, 1999)


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