Magdalena Valley Dry Forests Ecoregion (Colombia)

Magdalena Valley Dry Forests Ecoregion (Colombia)

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 21:23
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The Magdalena Valley dry forests ecoregion is located in Colombia along the upper Magdalena River. There are many endemic species, but much of the original habitat has been destroyed by agriculture and over-grazing.

Magdalena Valley Dry Forests

The Magdalena Valley dry forests ecoregion, located between the between the Eastern and Central cordilleras of the Northern Andes, occurs along the dry inter-Andean valley formed by the Magdalena River, which is the largest in Colombia.

The Magdalena Valley dry forests ecoregion is in the valley of the upper Magdalena River, a river that flows north through the Andes to the Caribbean Sea. It has an area of 19,748 sq km (7,625 sq mi).

The average elevation of the dry forest region is 450 m (1,480 ft). The valley floor is flat, with fertile alluvial soils and large deposits of ash from the Huila and Puracé volcanoes. The dry Tatacoa Desert holds many vertebrate fossils dating from the Miocene era.

The Magdalena Valley dry forests are almost entirely surrounded by the Magdalena Valley montane forests ecoregion. At its northern end the dry valley merges into the Magdalena-Urabá moist forests.

The climate is dry and vegetation includes cacti such as Armathocereus humilis and Stenocereus griseus. Vegetation in the Tatacoa Desert is thorny, and includes cactus species such as Opuntia and Melocactus species.

Annual rainfall in the Magdalena valley ranges from 831 to 2,268 mm (32.7 to 89.3 in), distributed over two distinct rainy seasons. The rainy seasons last from April to July and from October to December. There is a water deficiency from April to September. In the Tatacoa Desert there is less than 700 mm (28 in) of rain annually.

Mean annual temperature is 26.8 °C (80.2 °F). Temperatures rise to an average 29.8 °C (85.6 °F) in July and August.

Fauna biodiversity is relatively unknown but includes a few endemic subspecies such as the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia tolimae), tropical bobwhite (Colinus cristatus leucotis), and euphonia (Euphonia concinna).

Agriculture, and overgrazing, especially from introduced goats, has destroyed much of the original habitat. The World Wildlife Fund gives the ecoregion the status of "Critical/Endangered".