The Magdalena Valley montane forests ecoregion is located in the Andes mountains of central Colombia. The ecoregion covers the higher land on both sides of the valley of the Magdalena River in the Colombian Andes.
Magdalena Valley Montane Forests
The Magdalena Valley montane forests ecoregion is located in the Andes mountains of central Colombia. The ecoregion covers the higher land on both sides of the valley of the Magdalena River in the Colombian Andes. These montane forests have a wet climate, usually with cloud forests.
The Magdalena River flows north between the Eastern Ranges to the east and the Central Ranges to the west, down to the Caribbean lowlands.
The montane forests that grow along the Magdalena River valley, on the inner slopes of the Eastern and Central Cordilleras of the Northern Andes in Colombia, are very rich both in animal and plant diversity and endemic species.
Cloud forests are found at elevations of about 1,800 to 2,200 m (5,900 to 7,200 ft) and higher up at elevations of 2,800 to 3,200 m (9,200 to 10,500 ft).
The ecoregion encloses the Magdalena Valley dry forests ecoregion which in turn contains the upper Magdalena River, as well as the Magdalena-Urabá moist forests ecoregion which contains the lower Magdalena River and extends across the lowlands north of this ecoregion.
The rocks of the Eastern Ranges are sedimentary in origin, while the central range is highly volcanic and metamorphic. Soils are very diverse, giving rise to diverse flora. The 2,000 m (6,600 ft) Serranía de San Lucas rises in the center of the Magdalena Medio.
The climate is seasonally wet in the Magdalena Valley montane forests ecoregion, the rainy seasons occurring between April and June, and again October to December.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) gives the Magdalena Valley montane forests ecoregion the status of "Critical/Endangered". The region is home to over 70% of the population of Colombia.
The slopes are used for farms and coffee plantations on a large scale, leaving little intact habitat other than fragments of forests. Destruction of these fragments continues, although there is a movement to improve conservation.
The best-preserved areas are the upper Magdalena around the Los Guacharos National Park; the slopes of Nevados del Puracé and Huila, and the Serranía de San Lucas. The remaining areas have forest fragments of variable size.
Common trees include Anacardium excelsum, Cedrela odorata, Cordia alliodora, Decussocarpus rospigliossi, Hieronyma macrocarpa, Jacaranda caucana, Juglans neotropica, Podocarpus oleifolius, Quercus humboldtii, Tabebuia rosea, Tabebuia serratifolia, Vochysia ferruginea and palms such as Ceroxylon alpinum, Ceroxylon quindiuense, Ceroxylon parvifrons, Ceroxylon sasaimae, Ceroxylon vogelianum and Dictyocaryum lamarckianum.
The wax palms (Ceroxylon) species are of special concern. The Andean rosewood (Aniba perutilis) is endangered.
Endemics found in the hilly areas along the cordilleras include Ceroxylon sasaimae, Heliconia abaloi, Heliconia estiletioides, Heliconia huilensis, Heliconia laxa, Heliconia mutisiana, Heliconia oleosa, Heliconia reptans and Odontoglossum crispum.
Endemic orchids include Cattleya trianae in the upper Magdalena and Cattleya warscewiczii in the San Lucas – Nechi region.
Other common orchids are Masdevallia coccinea, Miltoniopsis vexillaria, Odontoglossum crispum and Odontoglossum nobile. Colombia’s national flower, the Christmas orchid (Cattleya trianae) is endangered.
Large vertebrates are the cougar (Puma concolor), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), Geoffroy's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), brown woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha), South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris), mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), little red brocket (Mazama rufina), pacarana (Dinomys branickii), mountain paca (Cuniculus taczanowskii) and Venezuelan red howler (Alouatta seniculus). The brown woolly monkey, mountain tapir and spectacled bear are of special concern.
Endangered mammals include black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps), red-crested tree-rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis), Handley's slender opossum (Marmosops handleyi), white-footed tamarin (Saguinus leucopus) and mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque).
Endangered reptiles include Daniel's large scale lizard (Ptychoglossus danieli) and Colombian lightbulb lizard (Riama columbiana).