North-east Peruvian cordilleras

Country/Territory Peru
Area 37,000 km2
Altitude 1700 - 3800m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA comprises mainly the Cordillera Central which forms the easternmost chain of high Andean mountains in Peru. The EBA starts in the north at the isolated Cordillera de Colán, and runs the length of the Cordillera Central which is separated from the Cordillera Occidental by the Marañón valley; the Cordilleras Central and Occidental join just south of the Cordillera Carpish, and, although the EBA is centred on the Cordillera Central north of the 'Huallaga bend' in Huánuco (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993), some of the restricted-range species occur south along the mountains east of Lago de Junín and south to Huancayo (c.12°S), the biogeographic division in the mountains at this point apparently being the Mantaro river. On the Cordillera de Colán, this EBA overlaps with the Andean ridge-top forests (EBA 047), although there is a general altitudinal and ecological separation of species.

In the north of the EBA, many of the mountain slopes are open country with fields, pasture and shrubs, and isolated woodlots of Alnus admixed with thorny Rubus thickets (Collar et al. 1992). Lush, epiphyte-laden evergreen cloud forest is the primary vegetation type along the Cordillera Central, dominant genera being Clusia, Escallonia, Clethra, Gynoxys and Weinmannia, with Chusquea bamboo thickets being common higher up. Stunted elfin forest occurs at the higher altitudes adjacent to the páramo, but is present down to 2,000 m or lower in the cool local climate of the Cordillera de Colán (Barnes et al. 1995).

Restricted-range species

The habitat in this area is quite diverse, and in many places forms an intricate mosaic of vegetation types, with the restricted-range species occupying most habitats, but all reliant (at least in part) on humid forest, and concentrated altitudinally between 1,700 and 3,800 m.

The distributions of most of the restricted-range birds are concentrated north of the Huallaga bend, with just a few species crossing this gap. However, there is usually differentiation of sister taxa in this section of the EBA, with, for example, the two Metallura and Schizoeaca species split either side of the gap (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993). Other species show even more disjunct distributions across this gap, Hapalopsittaca melanotis, for example, being found north of Huánuco and then in the Upper Bolivian yungas (EBA 055). There is also a distributional gap for several species in southern Pasco (central Peru), where there is often no cloud cover and humidity is low (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993), thus presumably affecting the vegetation. The EBA's two threatened species have particularly restricted ranges (see 'Threats and conservation', below).

Species IUCN Category
Coppery Metaltail (Metallura theresiae) LC
Fire-throated Metaltail (Metallura eupogon) LC
Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) EN
Yellow-browed Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus huallagae) EN
Black-winged Parrot (Hapalopsittaca melanotis) LC
Pale-billed Antpitta (Grallaria carrikeri) NT
Rusty-tinged Antpitta (Grallaria przewalskii) VU
Bay Antpitta (Grallaria capitalis) LC
Chestnut Antpitta (Grallaria blakei) NT
Large-footed Tapaculo (Scytalopus macropus) LC
Eye-ringed Thistletail (Asthenes palpebralis) LC
(Asthenes vilcabambae) NR
Russet-mantled Softtail (Cranioleuca berlepschi) VU
Bay-vented Cotinga (Doliornis sclateri) VU
Inca Flycatcher (Leptopogon taczanowskii) NT
Peruvian Tyrannulet (Zimmerius viridiflavus) LC
Unstreaked Tit-tyrant (Uromyias agraphia) LC
Rufous-bellied Bush-tyrant (Myiotheretes fuscorufus) LC
Bar-winged Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucoptera) NT
Rufous-browed Hemispingus (Poospiza rufosuperciliaris) LC
Pardusco (Nephelornis oneilli) LC
Golden-collared Tanager (Iridosornis jelskii) LC
Yellow-scarfed Tanager (Iridosornis reinhardti) LC
Golden-backed Mountain-tanager (Cnemathraupis aureodorsalis) EN

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Alto Mayo Peru
Cumpang y Utcubamba Peru
Florida Peru
Florida y Laguna Pomacochas Peru
Laguna de los Cóndores-Atuén Peru
Levanto Peru
Mashua y La Caldera Peru
Norte de la Cordillera de Colán Peru
Parque Nacional Río Abiseo Peru
Sur de la Cordillera de Colán Peru
UNIDA A ALTO MAYO - Abra Patricia Peru
UNIDA A ALTO MAYO - La Morada Peru
UNIDA A ALTO MAYO - La Rivera Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Cordillera de Carpish Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Quilluacocha y Bosque de Unchog Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Sariapunta Peru
UNIDA A CORDILLERA AZUL - Cordillera Azul antes de unir Peru
UNIDA A PN MANU - Manu antes de unir Peru
UNIDA A PN MANU - Pillahuata Peru
UNIDA A ZR SANTIAGO-COMAINA - Cordillera del Cóndor-Alto Comainas Peru
PE056 Cordillera de Colán Peru
PE057 Río Utcubamba Peru
PE058 Abra Patricia - Alto Mayo Peru
PE062 Laguna de los Cóndores Peru
PE066 Río Abiseo y Tayabamba Peru
PE072 Carpish Peru
PE074 Milpo Peru
PE075 Playa Pampa Peru
PE076 Cordillera Yanachaga Peru
PE081 Río Mantaro-Cordillera Central Peru
PE086 Cordillera Vilcabamba Peru
PE109 Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul Peru
PE110 Reserva Comunal El Sira Peru

Threat and conservation

Deforestation in the area is particularly widespread on the mountain slopes in the Marañón drainage, but in the Huallaga valley it is worst below 2,000 m. The cloud forest as a whole is relatively pristine, although elfin forest is readily approached from the páramo, and is clearly vulnerable to grazing and burning (Collar et al. 1992). However, the Huallaga valley, especially the upper reaches, has recently been taken over by coca growers, and it seems likely that forest at all altitudes will have suffered (M. A. Plenge in litt. 1993). Recent surveys of the northern end of the Cordillera de Colán found an alarmingly high deforestation rate, with most of the forest in this area already gone, and what remains being rapidly cleared for cash crops, particularly marijuana and coffee (Barnes et al. 1995).

Two of the species in this EBA are considered threatened, Loddigesia mirabilis primarily due to its restricted range within which it is rare and under pressure from habitat loss, and Buthraupis aureodorsalis because of its confinement to such a small area of elfin forest within which it too is rare (Collar et al. 1994). With the recent discovery of habitat loss in the northern Cordillera de Colán, the status of some of the six Near Threatened species in this EBA should be reassessed. Of the nine Key Areas identified for threatened birds in this EBA, the recently established Río Abiseo National Park is the only significant protected area harbouring populations of a number of this EBA's threatened and Near Threatened species (Collar et al. 1992, Wege and Long 1995).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: North-east Peruvian cordilleras. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/08/2020.