Fauna and Flora

The Azores archipelago belongs to the biogeographic region of Macaronesia, one of the richest in terms of biodiversity in Europe.

It is one of the most isolated archipelagos in the world and supports a significant number of endemic species unique of each island.

     
Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM
     

Located at the Atlantic Ocean, at the migratory route of several birds, the Azores islands gain importance as a safety place for rest, nesting and reproduction for birds.

     
Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM
     

The Azores sea possesses several species of cetaceans, being the most frequent ones the sperm whale, bottlenose whales and dolphins. Some shark species are recorded, ranging from the spined pygmy shark to the whale shark.

It is, also, possible to find silver scabbardfish, black scabbardfish, tuna, skipjack tuna, european eel, mediterranean moray and blue jack mackerel. At coastal areas, exist octopuses, sea urchins, starfish, limpets and barnacles. In streams and lakes it is very common to find some species of trouts, perch, carps and pikes.

In the azorean birds stand out the common buzzard (only bird of prey in the archipelago), the wood pigeon, the Azores bullfinch (endemic land bird, whose habitat is limited to the Laurissilva Forest at northeast of São Miguel), saffron finch, and various sea birds as the cory´s shearwater (which the greater part of the European populations breeds in the Azores), pink tern (which most of the European population breeds in the Azores), the Painho-das -tempestades-de monteiro (seabird endemic present in Praia islet and Baixo islet, in Graciosa island) and the seagulls.

In the case of terrestial animals the wild rabbit, the ferret and the hedgehog are common mammals. The bat of the Azores is the only endemic terrestrial mamal.

The cão-de-fila de São Miguel (a typical dog of São Miguel island) is a breed of dog guard, recognized nationally and internationally. Cows are part of the Azorean landscape features, providing a livelihood for many families.

     
Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM Fauna and Flora of the Azores - SIARAM
     

 

The Laurissilva Forest, a relic of what remains of the vegetation that dates back to the Tertiary Age which disappeared in almost European Continent due to glaciation, is found in isolated spots in all islands, the most significants evidences of this forest are in Central Plateau (Pico Island), Serra de Santa Barbara (Terceira Island) and Nordeste (São Miguel Island).

As main endemic species of flora are included laurel, heather, Azores heather (Erica azorica, an endemic plant), cedars and colicwood. The Vidalia is a flower endemic to the Azores. In addition, some flowers give a special charm to the islands as hydrangeas, camellia and azalea, introduced plants used as natural divisions of property. Acacia and cryptomeria, bigger trees, were also introduced in the archipelago and gained commercial importance.

One of the singular habitats of the Azores is the deep hydrothermal fields that support unique communities, with great wealth at the level of ecosystems and rarity. These hydrothermal fields have a composition and density of endemic species such as chemo-autotrophic bacteria, giant clams, polychaete worms, shrimps and some invertebrates and vertebrates like limpets, crabs and deep-sea fish.
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