The Caatinga was by far the most misinterpreted biome of Brazil. Judged by its natural semi-arid characteristics, once it was thought to be a place of scarcity in all aspects, both in fauna and flora. Vidas Secas, one of the most famous national literary works, written by Graciliano Ramos in 1938 tells the miserable life story of a family located in part of the Caatinga known as sertão nordestino. In the book, the characters are depicted as living a harsh and impoverished existence in the arid sertão of northeastern Brazil. Their struggle for survival is marked by constant hunger, thirst, and the relentless heat. And their only way to survive is to move regularly to areas less affected by drought. For a long time, the reality of Vidas Secas was the image that Brazilians held of this natural environment.
Though it is hard to pinpoint exactly when our perspective about the Caatinga started to shift, a brief search on the Web of Science portal reveals how recent is the research interest in this biome. Using its advanced search tool, the query ALL= (caatinga) searches among all of the searchable fields in papers and results in a total of 5904 scientific articles, from 1960 to the present. However, it was only in 2009 that papers containing the subject grew above two digits with an impressive difference of 155 papers between 2008 and 2009. The same search applied to the Amazon ( query : (ALL= (amazon and brazil) ) found 27346 articles starting in 1902, and with a significant increase starting in 1995.