In Ecuador, you can explore most of South America Bioregions
Ecuador is loaded with many of the major ecosystems of South America becoming a giant in the Diversity of Life!
Ecuador is the smallest country in the region of South America, it is located at Biodiversity Crossroad.
It is crossed from North to South by the youngest mountain range in the world: The Andes.
Bioregions of Ecuador: Areas and Climate
The Bioregions change in size and the average temperature and annual rainfall were obtained from digital climate maps from 1197 randomly located points. The standard deviation is shown in brackets.
|Area (km2)||Temperature annual average (° C)||Temperatures Range(annual average, ° C)||Precipitation annual average (mm)||Precipitation range (annual average)|
|The Dry Thicket of the Coast||8.033||24.5 (0.6)||23.4 (25.6)||548.3 (225.8)||243.7–1102.2|
|Deciduous Forest of the Coast||25.673||24.4 (1.1)||20.2 (25.7)||879.6 (288.5)||266.6–1548.9|
|Tropical Humid Forest of Chocó||31.737||24.8 (0.5)||23.7 (25.9)||1944.2 (488.3)||557.8–2821|
|Western Foothills Forest||15.305||22.3 (1.4)||18.6 (24.3)||1919.6 (646.2)||563.8–3168.9|
|Western Montane Forest||21.576||14.6 (3.9)||8.2 (23.3)||1058.7 (433.3)||552–2396.2|
|Paramo||15.976||7.1 (1.9)||2 (14.1)||999.8 (192.3)||546.3–1586.2|
|Interandean Scrub Forest||11.266||15.4 (2.3)||12.1 (20.8)||851.1 (180.2)||552.4–1240.8|
|Eastern Montane Forest||31.555||15.1 (3.7)||7.2 (21.9)||1510.9 (568.9)||666.4–3492.4|
|astern Foothills Forest||13.133||22.1 (0.9)||20 (23.9)||2768.3 (831.3)||1373.6–4289.6|
|Amazon Tropical Humid Forest||73.909||24.8 (0.7)||21.3 (25.7)||3377 (439.5)||1709.9–4370|
The Bioregions of Ecuador
1. The Dry Thicket of the Coast
This Bioregion is characterized by a combination of warm and extremely dry conditions, although the average annual rainfall may not exceed 60 mm (in the westernmost town, Salinas, Guayas Province).
The Dry Thicket of the Coast covers an area of 8033 km2 and is restricted to the margin of the coast in the center of Ecuador.
In some areas, Grass has been introduced for cattle raising and has replaced native plants. In the driest habitats, cacti and other spiny plants are dominant.
2. Deciduous Forest of the Coast
This natural region has a range of 50 to 300 m elevation (100 to 400 m in southern Ecuador) and covers an area of 25 673 km2 (10.3% of the Ecuadorian territory). Conditions are drier and the terrain has lower tree densities than evergreen forests.
The trees are generally less than 20 m tall and there is an undergrowth that can be dense and with abundant herbaceous plants. Some tree species, such as Ceibo, lose their leaves during the dry season.
The human impact in this region has been severe. It has been estimated that more than 60% of its area has been destroyed by human activities, especially agriculture and livestock.
3. Tropical Humid Forest of Chocó
It is the second-largest natural region of Ecuador with 31,732 km2. Its elevation has a range of 0 to 300 m and the conditions are hot and humid.
They are closed-canopy forests with trees that can reach 30 m in height and an undergrowth dominated by ferns and plants of the Araceae Arums family. The diversity of trees is high (more than 100 species per hectare; but less than in the Amazonian Tropical Humid Forest.
Anthropogenic habitat degradation in this region is one of the highest in Ecuador; almost 75% of the forest has been destroyed by human activities. It is absent in the lowlands of southwestern Ecuador due to the predominance of dry conditions.
4. Western Foothills Forest
This natural region covers 15,305 km2 in the western foothills of the Andes and has an elevation range between 300 and 1300 m (400 and 1000 m to the south). Its climate is humid and moderately warm. The palms and trees of the Mimosaceae, Fabaceae and Burseraceae families are dominant.
The forest canopy reaches 30 m or more and the trees are covered by mosses, orchids, bromeliads, and ferns. The endemism of the plants is high, especially between 0 and 3 degrees south latitude.
It is found in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha and Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchilas.
In the sector of the Cordillera de la Costa includes the Mache-Chindul, Chongón-Colonche mountain range and part of the Manglares-Churute Reserve forests.
5. Western Montane Forest
It has an area of 21 576 km2 with an elevation range of 1300 to 3400 m (1000 to 3000 m in southern Ecuador) and a temperate climate. The canopy is generally less than 25 m and there is a high abundance of epiphytic plants (especially mosses, ferns, orchids, and bromeliads).
At intermediate elevations, especially during the afternoons, the forests are covered with fog and receive horizontal precipitation from low clouds.
The Western Montane Forest is restricted to narrow areas between the Mira River pit (near the border with Colombia) and the Chanchán and Chimbo river pits (2 degrees S latitude).
This natural region is replaced by drier habitats (especially Interandino scrubland) south of 4 degrees latitude S, near the border with Peru. Almost half of its area has been deforested
It is the natural region that reaches the highest elevations. Its lower altitudinal limit varies between 3000 and 3600 m. It has an area of 15 976 km2 (6.1% of the area of Ecuador). Ecuador is the country with the largest moorland area followed by Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru.
Vegetation is characterized by being short and dominated by herbs that form dense aggregations. The plants are adapted to low temperatures and low water availability.
There may also be forest patches or shrubs. At higher elevations, vegetation forms scattered aggregations surrounded by areas with exposed soil and no plants.
Due to the occurrence of frequent frosts, agriculture is limited which has reduced the anthropogenic destruction of the habitat. The biggest threat to the wasteland is the presence of cattle and the planting of pine.
Livestock has direct negative effects on the soil and plants and indirectly due to the practice of periodic burning to favor grazing. The moor is important as a source of water for urban areas. In Quito and Bogotá, 90% of drinking water comes from the moor.
There is much variation in the structure of the vegetation of the moor with notable extremes such as the moorland of the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura to the dry moors of the Chimborazo Reserve.
7. Interandean Scrub Forest
This natural region varies between 1400 and 3000 m elevation and has an area of 11 266 km2; It is located in the inter-Andean valleys between the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. As a result of the rain shadow effect of both mountain ranges, the Interandino Thicket has relatively low rainfall.
Although originally dominated by shrubs, most of the vegetation has been replaced by crops, grasslands or exotic tree forests of the genera Pinus and Eucalyptus.
In dry valleys (for example, Chota, Guayllabamba, and Patate) the native vegetation is prickly. The inter-Andean scrub is almost not represented in the state system of protected areas. Habitat degradation is severe; more than 2/3 of its surface has been altered by anthropic activities.
9. Eastern Foothills Forest
This region covers 13 133 km2 between 600 and 1300 m elevation. This evergreen forest presents a mixture of species of Andean trees and the lowlands of the Amazon.
The canopy reaches up to 30 m high and contains a dense canopy and undergrowth.
The diversity of trees is less than in the Amazonian Tropical Humid Forest (130 species/ha). The average annual rainfall is the second highest of all regions (2833 mm).
10. Amazon Tropical Humid Forest
It is the largest natural region in Ecuador with a total of 73 909 km2 (29.8% of the Ecuadorian continental territory). It is restricted to elevations below 600 m and has the highest average rainfall (3349 mm per year).
The dominant type of forest is that of Tierra Firme that is characterized by well-drained soils and a canopy of 10 to 30 m with emerging trees that reach 40 m (rarely 50 m). The forest has small open areas generated by falling trees.
The diversity of trees is high with 200 to 300 species per hectare.
Other types of vegetation in this region include the Várzea forest (forest flooded with white water), igapó (forest flooded with sewage), riverside forest, the thicket of riverside islands, and marshes of the Moriche palm.