Peruvian Yungas Ecoregion (South America)

Peruvian Yungas Ecoregion (South America)

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 18:39
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The Peruvian yungas are sub-tropical montane deciduous and evergreen forests which flank the eastern slopes and central valleys of the central Andes from northernmost to southernmost Peru.

Peruvian Yungas

The Peruvian yungas are sub-tropical montane deciduous and evergreen forests which flank the eastern slopes and central valleys of the central Andes from northernmost to southernmost Peru. The ecoregion occupies an area of approximately 188,735 sq km (72,870 sq mi).

Most of the the Peruvian yungas ecoregion lies on the sub-Andean strip, a mountainous region running parallel to and at the base of the eastern range.

This region maintains one of the richest montane forest ecosystems in the Neotropics. Many species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are found only in this part of the planet.

Vegetation is extremely diverse, and in many places forms an elaborate mosaic of habitat types. The terrain in steep and rugged, and altitudes vary dramatically within the ecoregion, from high plains to precipitous valleys.

Precipitation ranges from 500-2000 mm (19-79 in) annually and deciduous trees occur in dry habitats. Otherwise the region has lush, dense vegetation, high species diversity and richness, as well as a number of endemic species.

At altitudes above 2500 m (8,200 ft) asl, average temperatures range from 6-12 ºC (42-54 ºF) in the northern section and 8-22 ºC (46-72 ºF) in the southern section. In low areas the average temperature is 25 ºC (77 ºF).

The Peruvian yungas contains over 3,000 species of plants. Tree ferns (Cyathea) and bamboo (Chusquea) are common.

Below 2,700 m (8,900 ft), the forest includes species such as cedar (Cedrela), trumpet tree (Tabebuia), and relatives of papaya (Carica). Above 3,500 m (11,500 ft), there are scrublands and wet rocky thickets with shrubs and land orchids as well as forests of Podocarpus conifers.

There are at least 200 species of orchids (such as the genera Epidendrum and Maxilaria). Below 3500 m, there are the so-called cloud forests with the presence of bamboo (Chusquea) and arboreal ferns (Cyathea spp.).

Below 2700 m (8,800 ft), the forest becomes more rich in species such as cedar, cetico [trumpet-wood] and relatives of papaya (Carica spp). Above 3500 m (11,500 ft), there are scrublands and wet rocky thickets with some shrubs and land orchids as well as forests of romerillo (Podocarpus).

The Peruvian yungas contains over 200 species of vertebrates. The gallito de las rocas (Rupicola peruviana) is endemic. Notable mammals include the shrew opossums (Caenolestes) and Kalinowski's Agouti (Dasyprocta kalinowskii), as well as the northern pudú (Pudu mephistophiles) and the hairy long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus pilosus).

Notable species with limited distributions found here include the horned curassow (Pauxi unicornis), hummingbirds (Metallura theresiae, Heliangelus regalis), the long-whiskered owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) and the Marañón poison frog (Dendrobates mysteriosus).

Endangered and threatened species include the yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Oreonax flavicauda), jaguar (Panthera onca), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis), colocolo (Oncifelis colocolo), Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) and cinchona (Cinchona sp.).

The Peruvian yungas ecoregion also has endemic species of butterflies from the genera Dismopha, Callithea, Paridos and Morpho.