The Santa Marta montane forests is an ecoregion in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a massif on the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia. This montane ecoregion is a characteristic moist forest; however, it rises from very different habitat of xeric scrub and dry forest that surround it.
Santa Marta Montane Forests Ecoregion
The Santa Marta montane forests is an ecoregion in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a massif on the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia.
This montane ecoregion is a characteristic moist forest; however, it rises from very different habitat of xeric scrub and dry forest that surround it.
This ecoregion is limited by altitude running from lowlands to 3,300 m (10,800 ft) or ending when the vegetative structure changes to páramo, which is then considered the Santa Marta páramo ecoregion.
The ecoregion covers the slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the north of Colombia, with an area of 492,097 ha (1,216,000 acres). The range rises to snow-covered peaks only 60 km (37 mi) from the Caribbean Sea.
The ecoregion is almost entirely surrounded by the Sinú Valley dry forests ecoregion. To the northeast and northwest it transitions directly into Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub. In the higher elevations of the mountains the ecoregion gives way to Santa Marta páramo.
Its geology is complex with rock outcroppings of different types and ages including rocks of granitic, dioritic and quartz monzonitic batholiths that originated during the Mesozoic and Tertiary periods as volcanic rock and a varied sequence of sediments. It is considered a bio-geographic island that is separate from the Andes Range.
The isolation of the massif and the range of elevations and climates has resulted in a wide variety of species including many endemics.
The lower levels contained tropical rain forest, which has largely been cleared. Higher up, this gives way to cloud forest. Much of this has also been cleared for coffee plantations, pasture for sheep and cattle, and farming.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has warm wet forests on its northern flank and part of the western flank that are now isolated from other warm and wet forests.
The flora of the wet lowland forests is different from that in the cloud forests of the middle and high mountain areas and they have little in common. There are few vascular species with range from sea level to the high mountain forests.
Animal species and subspecies with restricted ranges are known to occur in this and surrounding ecoregions. The associated fauna is diversified.
Mammals include Colombian tapir (Tapirus terrestris colombianus), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), jaguar (Panthera onca centralis), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), agouti or "ñeque" (Dasyprocta punctata), paca (Agouti paca), red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus).
There are various bird species such as the keel-billed toucan (Ramphastus sulfuratus), black-chested jay or "chau-chau" (Cyanocorax affinis), Tangara gyrola, Arantinga wagleri, Pharomacrus fulgidus festatus, blue-knobbed curassow or "paujil" (Crax alberti), crested guan or "pava" (Penelope purpurascens brunnescens), Chlorostilbon russatus and Anthocephala floriceps floriceps.
There are also a large variety of reptiles, amphibians and insects.