Darién lowlands

Country/Territory Colombia,Panama
Area 61,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1000m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

The Darién lowlands EBA embraces lowlands and foothills (below c.1,000 m) of eastern Panama and northernmost Colombia: in Panama from the canal area east through Colón, Panamá and Darién provinces, and in Colombia the Urabá lowlands along the Atrato river (west of the West Andes), terminating in the northern Chocó just south of the Serranía de Baudó. The Darién highlands (EBA 024) is divided altitudinally from this lowland area (see below), and the Chocó (EBA 041) is south of but adjacent to it.

The primary vegetation is wet and humid lowland forest, with extensive areas of wetland and swamp forest in the Urabá lowlands.

Restricted-range species

Most of the restricted-range species in this EBA occur in humid forest (or disturbed forest) habitats, primarily below 800 m. However, as some birds do occur up to c.1,000 m there is some altitudinal overlap with species endemic to the Darién highlands EBA, which mainly occur above 700-800 m. Chrysothlypis chrysomelas is the most dramatic example of this overlap, although it is essentially a lowland form (see EBA 024 for examples of highland species regularly found below 1,000 m). Many of the birds in this EBA are shared with adjacent areas such as the Central American Pacific and Caribbean slopes (EBAs 017 and 019) and the Nechí lowlands (EBA 037). Only one species, Bucco noanamae, is shared with the Chocó EBA to the south. Piculus callopterus is essentially confined to the present EBA, although there is an old record of it from the Caribbean slope in Veraguas province (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).

Species IUCN Category
Choco Tinamou (Crypturellus kerriae) VU
Purplish-backed Quail-dove (Zentrygon lawrencii) LC
Dusky-backed Jacamar (Brachygalba salmoni) LC
Sooty-capped Puffbird (Nystactes noanamae) NT
Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker (Piculus callopterus) LC
Spiny-faced Antshrike (Xenornis setifrons) NT
Black-crowned Pittasoma (Pittasoma michleri) LC
Yellow-green Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes flavovirens) LC
Black-billed Flycatcher (Aphanotriccus audax) NT
Tawny-capped Euphonia (Euphonia anneae) LC
Black Oropendola (Psarocolius guatimozinus) LC
Baudo Oropendola (Psarocolius cassini) VU
Black-and-yellow Tanager (Chrysothlypis chrysomelas) LC
Sulphur-rumped Tanager (Heterospingus rubrifrons) LC
Viridian Dacnis (Dacnis viguieri) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
CO018 Capurganá Colombia
CO019 Parque Nacional Natural Los Katíos Colombia
CO020 Parque Nacional Natural Ensenada de Utría Colombia
PA030 Portobelo National Park Panama
PA040 Chagres National Park Panama
PA047 Narganá Wildlands Area Panama
PA053 Darién National Park Panama

Threat and conservation

Forest in Colón and western Darién provinces is disappearing following road-building projects during the 1970s and 1980s (W. J. Adsett in litt. 1993). Logging has been extensive in the swamp forest of the Urabá lowlands, the cleared areas then being converted to pasture or banana plantations (L. M. Renjifo in litt. 1993). The Serranía de Baudó also faces serious deforestation as a result of road-building programmes and logging activities (Collar et al. 1994). A number of potentially damaging projects have been proposed for the area, such as the connection of the Pan-American highway through Darién (through either Los Katios or Utría National Parks), and the building of an inter-oceanic channel using the Atrato and Truando rivers (L. G. Olarte in litt. 1993, L. M. Renjifo in litt. 1993, W. J. Adsett verbally 1996): both of these projects would have a severe impact on the biodiversity of the area.

Three threatened species occur in the EBA. Xenornis setifrons appears to have specific habitat requirements (Whitney and Rosenberg 1993) and, at least on Cerro Azul-Cerro Jefe (within Chagres National Park), it is being directly threatened by habitat loss (W. J. Adsett verbally 1994). The other two species, Crypturellus kerriae and Psarocolius cassini, are both poorly known, and the Colombian portions of their ranges are under great pressure from road construction, settlement and timber extraction. The widespread Northern Screamer Chauna chavaria (Near Threatened; restricted to the wetlands of northern Colombia and north-west Venezuela) is abundant in Los Katios National Park, which may be a stronghold for it (L. M. Renjifo in litt. 1993).

Eight Key Areas for threatened birds have been identified within this EBA (five in Panama and three in Colombia): all of the Panamanian areas are formally protected (three within Darién National Park, the others in Chagres National Park and the Comarca Kuna Yala Indigenous Reserve), and Ensenada Utría National Park protects a portion of one Colombian Key Area (Wege and Long 1995). In Panama, many areas in the EBA are under Indian (e.g. Kuna) control, and are thus protected conservation areas (e.g. the Atlantic coast forest in Colón province, and Comarca Kuna Yala Indigenous Reserve in San Blas) (IUCN 1992a, W. J. Adsett in litt. 1993). Other protected areas in the EBA include (in Panama) Soberanía and Portobelo National Parks, Canglón and Chepigana Forest Reserves, and Alto de Darién Protection Forest, and (in Colombia) Los Katios National Park (IUCN 1992a).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Darién lowlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2021.