Lake Titicaca

Country/Territory Bolivia,Peru
Area 0 km2
Altitude 0 - 0m
Priority -
Habitat loss -
Knowledge -

General characteristics

The altiplano, where the Andes reach their maximum width, is an area of inland drainage with enormous lake basins. The whole plain was once covered by one huge lake, Ballivian, now fragmented into the smaller present-day lakes: in the north (at 3,800 m), Lake Titicaca (8,300 km2) drains south via the Desaguadero river and Lake Uru-Uru into the saline Lake Poopó (south of Oruro in Bolivia). Lake Titicaca sits astride the Peru-Bolivia border (see map, p. 239), and is mostly steep-sided and rocky, but parts of the shore are flat with enormous zones of aquatic vegetation extending up to 12 km out into the lake, and with surrounding areas of seasonally inundated puna grassland dotted with other smaller rushy lakes (Scott and Carbonell 1986, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Lake Uru-Uru (280 km2) is a brackish lake supporting extensive beds of emergent vegetation, and is surrounded by heavily grazed puna grassland. Lake Poopó (1,340 km2) is saline with turbid waters and extensive areas of exposed mud (and is particularly important for flamingos); its water-level fluctuates seasonally, but it is in the process of drying out (Scott and Carbonell 1986).

These lakes-Titicaca, Uru-Uru and Poopó-and others nearby have been identified as a Secondary Area due to the presence of the endemic Titicaca Flightless Grebe Rollandia microptera. It prefers open lake habitats, often feeding far offshore as long as some vegetation exists at the bottom. Breeding is in rather open mosaic-like parts of wide reed-marshes, in places with easy access to open water. The species is common, but some local populations may disappear in drought years and become re-established in years of extreme flooding (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). The lakes of this region are also extremely important for Andean waterfowl and Nearctic waders. Although Titicaca National Reserve protects some of the lake, there is a considerable amount of pollution in the vicinity of Puno from domestic sewage and boat traffic, and excessive utilization of reeds for building, boat construction and handicrafts. Hunting and egg-collection may be a problem in some areas, and many grebes are known to drown in fishing nets (Scott and Carbonell 1986).

Restricted-range species

Species IUCN Category
Titicaca Grebe (Rollandia microptera) EN

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Laguna Suytococha Peru
BO017 Lago Poopó y Río Laka Jahuira Bolivia
BO018 Lago Titicaca (Sector Boliviano) Bolivia
PE097 Ramis y Arapa (Lago Titicaca, sector Peruano) Peru
PE098 Laguna de Chacas Peru
PE099 Laguna Umayo Peru

Threat and conservation

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Titicaca. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/01/2023.