MATORRALES: What are they, Types and Fauna

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When you hear the word scrub, you may think of a single bush or shrub. The truth is that you are not completely misguided, but a bush is much more than that: the word refers to the entire field whose vegetation is dominated by shrubs and plants of that type.

There are different types and in very different climates. In the same way, they may have appeared naturally or as a result of human action, and they may also be a stable ecosystem in a certain place, or a temporary state that occurs due to effects such as, for example, a fire. .

If you want to know more about the bushes, what are they, their types and fauna, then join us in this Green Ecologist article in which we will see what its main characteristics are.

What are scrubs

As we have already mentioned, scrublands are a type of terrestrial ecosystem comprising a field or natural space in which the predominant vegetation is the bushes and shrubs. They are also usually found in different types of grass, as well as herbaceous plants and geophytes, which are plants that spend their less favorable times in the form of rhizome, tuber or bulb.

The bushes are characterized by having the approximate shape of a tree, but they never exceed 8 meters in height and in the vast majority of occasions they are much smaller, therefore, the landscape offered by a thicket is of a ground cover at ground level, which will be more or less dense depending on the type of shrub we are talking about, and dotted here and there with shrubs, almost always of low height.

Types of scrub

There are three big types of scrub with well differentiated characteristics:

Xerophilous scrub

The term xerophilous is formed by the Greek words xero, which means dry, and filo, which means friend. Taking this into account, it is not difficult to imagine that these are scrublands that can be found in arid areas, with low rainfall and high temperatures.

The climatic conditions of these scrublands are reminiscent of a softened version of those of the deserts, with cool nights, very hot days, and an absence of rainfall that can last for several months and, in some cases, even years.

It is common to find thorny vegetation such as cacti and low-rise shrubs, with semi-desert meadows where little or no grass is found. Xerophilous shrubs can be found in arid and semi-arid areas around the globe, with some of the most important being found in Caatinga and the Andes in South America, at some points in the Mediterranean region and in some areas around the Sahara desert.

Mediterranean scrub

Also called bushes, heaths or chaparrals and are found, as their main name indicates, in regions with a Mediterranean or similar climate, such as California, Chile or Australia, among others.

It is a scrub in which the vegetation has also adapted to withstand hot and harsh summers, with plants that retain water using different strategies. There are low-rise shrubs dotted with larger ones such as holm oaks or oxiced trees, as well as aromatic plants such as broom, thyme or chamomile.

Shrubs of this type are usually in or very close to forest areas. In this other article we will tell you about the Mediterranean Forest, its characteristics, flora and fauna.


Moors are mountainous thickets that grow at high altitudes in tropical regions of America, Africa, and New Guinea. They develop above the montane forest, and extend to the limit marked by perpetual snow. They can be found at altitudes of up to 5000 meters above sea level, and the most important and well-known of them is the Andean.

Unlike the xerophilous and Mediterranean scrub, the moors are characterized by being areas of high humidity throughout much of the year, as well as being cold climates, partly mainly because of the great height at which they are, although sometimes they can present high maximums of abrupt form during the day. Asteraceae, orchids and grasses predominate in them.

Bush fauna

The three types of bushes present different varieties of fauna or animals. In summary, this is the bush fauna:

Paramo-type scrub fauna

The páramos have a great animal diversity, in which you can find large mammals such as the spectacled bear, the puma or the white-tailed deer, among other smaller ones such as the páramo fox (like the one in the photo below), the rabbit or the bush dog. Among the birds, the hummingbird, the duck and the condor stand out.

Xerophilous scrub fauna

Xerophilic bushes are also home to a large number of animals, especially reptiles and insects such as snakes, iguanas, a wide variety of lizards, scorpions and bees. You can also find birds such as the roadrunner, the desert woodpecker or the owl, as well as mammals such as bats and kangaroo rats.

Mediterranean scrub animals

The Mediterranean scrub presents a fauna in which mammals such as foxes, mountain goats, rabbits and deer can be found, as well as birds of prey such as the Iberian imperial eagle. There are large numbers of small birds such as pigeons, turtledoves and ducks, and waders such as storks and herons. Although there are very few Iberian lynxes left in the wild, they are typical of this biome, and the Iberian wolf is one of its largest carnivores.

If you want to read more articles similar to Shrublands: what they are, types and fauna, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

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