The region known as Cantão lies in the northernmost part of the Bananal Island´s alluvial plains.  Satellite images show the Araguaia River and Ilha do Bananal as a large frontier between three biomes: to the East of the river lies the State of Tocantins, with its typical Cerrado vegetation of central Brazil, consisting of extensive native grasslands and pastures with scattered bush, palm tree and gallery forests; to the west of the Araguaia, in the State of Pará, the tall Amazon forest ends abruptely at the river’s edge; and towards the Southwest the Araguaia meets the Pantanal, in the State of Mato Grosso. 


The 90.000-hectare Cantão State Park is located between Latitude 9-10S and Longitude 50W. In the State of Tocantins, a fairly well preserved sample of Cerrado reaches the edge of Rio do Côco, the park’s limits to the east. On the other side, in the State of Pará, the west bank of the Araguaia marks the sharp end of the Amazon dry land rainforest. Here, large portions of the forest have given place to pasture and farms.  The shallow lakes formed during the dry season are the main characteristic of the alluvial plains of Cantão, congregating cayman, jabiru and other aquatic birds typical of the Pantanal, which co-exist with hoatzins and other birds typical do the Amazon. 


Thus the ecosystem of Cantão State Park is comprised by a unique combination of animals and plants from three major biomes: the Cerrado, the Pantanal and – predominantly – the Amazon flooded forest. This distinguishing feature makes Cantão one of the most important protected areas within the Brazilian Amazon.



 

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Five distinct natural communities, each with its own unique species assemblages, occur within the Cantão ecosystem.

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