Southern Central Andes

Country/Territory Ecuador,Peru
Area 10,000 km2
Altitude 1500 - 3500m
Priority high
Habitat loss major
Knowledge good

General characteristics

The scattered montane cloud forests of southern Ecuador and northern Peru run from the Volcán Sangay area of Ecuador (c.2°S) to northern Ancash department in Peru (c.8°S), embracing the humid forest between c.1,500 and 3,500 m in the main Andean chain (especially on the eastern slope), but also including a few areas in the Eastern Andes of Ecuador and east of the Marañón valley in Peru. This EBA overlaps with a number of others, but is separated from them on vegetational and altitudinal criteria. For example, the evergreen cloud forests in this EBA are found below the high-altitude Central Andean páramo (EBA 043), which lies mainly further north and comprises species of the temperate-zone elfin forests and paramó. Some of the EBA cloud forest patches are adjacent to but at higher altitudes (i.e. above c.2,000 m) than the Ecuador-Peru East Andes (EBA 044), and some lie near the northern end of the Peruvian high Andes (EBA 051), which is a region of drier vegetation. The Southern Central Andes, due to its patchy nature, only covers c.10,000 km2, with the vegetation varying from wet, epiphyte-clad temperate cloud forest to drier cloud forest, and secondary woodland.

Restricted-range species

All the restricted-range species in this EBA rely on humid montane forest or cloud forest, with some also using associated secondary woodland, and natural clearings, largely between 1,500 and 3,500 m.

Penelope barbata, Coeligena iris and Heliangelus viola are widespread within this EBA, the latter two species extending its boundaries into the Cordillera Central, east of the Marañón river. The remaining species, however, have more restricted ranges. For example, the three species shared with the North Central Andes are of particularly limited distribution within the EBA-Grallaria gigantea is known from just two specimens collected (in 1938) at El Tambo in Loja province of Ecuador, Grallaricula lineifrons from just two localities in Cañar and Loja provinces, and Atlapetes leucopis from the eastern slope south only to Azuay province of Ecuador- and the other two species, Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops and Myiophobus lintoni, are found south to Cerro Chinguela in Piura province of northern Peru. The southern portion of Ecuador and adjacent northern Peru is biogeographically complex, and the birds in this EBA may at times overlap with species from neighbouring EBAs (see above), especially where the patchy montane forests splice into, for example, elfin forest and páramo (as is the case within the range of Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops).

The 'Chusquea' Tapaculo Scytalopus sp. nov. has yet to be described, but is wholly confined to this EBA (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1995).

Species IUCN Category
Bearded Guan (Penelope barbata) NT
Purple-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus viola) LC
Rainbow Starfrontlet (Coeligena iris) LC
Red-faced Parrot (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops) VU
Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea) VU
Crescent-faced Antpitta (Grallaricula lineifrons) LC
Orange-banded Flycatcher (Nephelomyias lintoni) NT
White-rimmed Brush-finch (Atlapetes leucopis) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Ayacucho Peru
Bosque Protector Mazán Ecuador
Cruz Blanca Peru
Cruz Chiquita Peru
Cutervo National Park and surrounding area Peru
Macará-Sozoranga-Utuana Ecuador
Parque Nacional Río Abiseo Peru
Paucal Peru
perico de los palotes Peru
Seques Peru
Taulis Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Cordillera de Carpish Peru
UNIDA A CUYAS - Cerro Chacas Peru
UNIDA A PN MANU - Manu antes de unir Peru
EC061 Parque Nacional Sangay Ecuador
EC062 Bosque Protector Dudas-Mazar Ecuador
EC063 Cajas-Mazán Ecuador
EC065 Montañas de Zapote-Najda Ecuador
EC066 Bosque Protector Moya-Molón Ecuador
EC068 Acanamá-Guashapamba-Aguirre Ecuador
EC069 Selva Alegre Ecuador
EC085 Parque Nacional Podocarpus Ecuador
EC086 Bosque Protector Colambo-Yacuri Ecuador
EC087 Reserva Comunal Bosque de Angashcola Ecuador
EC088 Tapichalaca Reserve (Reserva Tapichalaca IBA) Ecuador
PE005 Bosque de Cuyas Peru
PE006 Aypate Peru
PE007 Toldo Peru
PE008 Huamba Peru
PE016 Chiñama Peru
PE017 Laquipampa Peru
PE022 Alto Valle del Saña Peru
PE050 Cerro Chinguela Peru
PE053 La Cocha Peru

Threat and conservation

The cloud forest habitats within this EBA have been heavily degraded (Collar et al. 1992). Forest tracts are still being actively felled, and some areas with dense populations of Indian farmers have suffered from the combination of forest loss and understorey grazing by livestock; this situation is one which holds true in both Ecuador and Peru (Wege and Long 1995).

Three of the restricted-range species in this area are considered threatened by the widespread destruction of habitat that is occurring, and Penelope barbata faces the additional threat of being a target for hunters (Collar et al. 1992). The more-widespread Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii (classified as Vulnerable) is a fourth threatened species present in the EBA. Eleven Key Areas for the conservation of these threatened birds were identified by Wege and Long (1995), five being in Ecuador and the remainder in Peru.

The large Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador protects areas of suitable cloud forest for at least five of the EBA's restricted-range species, but it is itself under threat from habitat destruction (Collar et al. 1992). Huashapamba Protection Forest supports populations of at least four of the restricted-range species (including Penelope barbata and Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops) (Wege and Long 1995) and, also in Ecuador, the Cajas National Recreation Area and Río Mazan Cloud Forest Reserve are important. All of these Ecuadorian protected areas were identified as Key Areas for threatened birds. However, none of the Key Areas in Peru is formally protected, and the few very small parks that do exist appear inadequate for the conservation of the five restricted-range species that penetrate Peruvian territory.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Southern Central Andes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/07/2020.