Guajira-Barranquilla Xeric Scrub Ecoregion (Colombia, Venezuela)

Guajira-Barranquilla Xeric Scrub Ecoregion (Colombia, Venezuela)

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 16:26

The Guajira/Barranquilla ecoregion along the Caribbean Sea in Venezuela and Colombia is a unique xerophytic area in the neotropics. Proposed as a bird center of endemism, this arid habitat is dominated by thorn scrub and succulents.

The Guajira/Barranquilla ecoregion along the Caribbean Sea in Venezuela and Colombia is a unique xerophytic area in the neotropics. Proposed as a bird center of endemism, this arid habitat is dominated by thorn scrub and succulents.

The ecoregion occupies the Guajira Peninsula, the valley of Rancheria river and Guajira Department, covering parts of the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The valleys lie in the rain shadow of the surrounding Serranía de Macuira, which reaches an elevation of 900 m (3,000 ft) over sea level. These mountains trap some of the trade winds, causing mist.

Herpetofauna is particularly rich with sixty-six species including the endangered species Geochelone carbonaria, and Phrynops dahli. Two national parks protect what little intact habitat is left from agricultural development.

The Guajira/Barranquilla xeric scrub is located in three enclaves along the Caribbean Sea:

  • The largest enclave is located in the Guajira Peninsula, which is the northernmost point of South America, in both northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia. The enclave extends south between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serrania de Perijá.
  • The second and smallest of the three enclaves is located east of the Santa Marta Bay, in the north of the Magdalena department of Colombia.
  • The third enclave is found in the north of the Cordoba, Sucre, Bolivar and Atlantico departments, along the Caribbean Sea. The largest city in the ecoregion is Barranquilla, Colombia.

Landscape elements in this ecoregion consist of hills (Serranía de Macuira), lowlands (llanuras), and some rivers. The largest river is the Magdalena. There are also smaller rivers that originate in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and make their way to the Caribbean Sea through this ecoregion, including the Guachaca, Buritaca, Don Diego, Palomino, Ancho, Dibulla and Corual.

The ecoregion is notable for being the habitat of a large community of Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).