Junín puna

Country/Territory Peru
Area 11,000 km2
Altitude 3500 - 5000m
Priority critical
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge good

General characteristics

The Junín puna EBA covers two discrete areas of central Peru. Although the puna zone of the Peruvian Andes extends throughout the central and southern parts of the country, the restricted-range species which define the extent of this EBA are apparently confined to the areas around Lago de Junín (in the Junín department) and central Huancavelica department (there are records of just one species outside this immediate area in adjacent Lima and Pasco departments). The altitudinal limits of the puna are c.3,500-5,000 m, Lago de Junín being at 4,080 m. The climatically seasonal vegetation comprises tussocky grassland, some scrub and open rocky areas, with bogs and mires interspersed (often below glaciers); there are also some areas of woodland (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Restricted-range species

Of the five birds confined to the EBA, Podiceps taczanowskii, Laterallus tuerosi and Geositta saxicolina are restricted to the area around Lago de Junín, the first two species being confined to the open water, submerged vegetation and surrounding marshland of the lake itself, while G. saxicolina is found in typical puna vegetation. The remaining two endemics also occur in the Junín area: Cinclodes palliatus is found additionally to the south in central Huancavelica, inhabiting the mineral-rich Distichia bogs of the upper puna zone; Oreotrochilus melanogaster occurs there too, with a population also in Ancash (north of Junín), inhabiting puna grassland at lower altitudes (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Asthenes virgata occurs in this EBA as a disjunct population from that in the Peruvian high Andes (EBA 051) (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993).

Very few puna zone species have restricted ranges: however, although the puna seems quite uniform on casual observation, it is sufficiently complex to result in the patchy distributions of many birds (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). The local and patchy distributions of the birds in this EBA appear to reflect requirements that are only satisfied locally. The area around Lago de Junín was ice-free during the last glacial periods (the surrounding areas above c.4,000 m were generally covered in ice: Fjeldså 1992), and was presumably a refuge for the restricted-range species, three of which have not subsequently dispersed out of this immediate area (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993).

Species IUCN Category
Junin Grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii) CR
Black-breasted Hillstar (Oreotrochilus melanogaster) LC
Junin Rail (Laterallus tuerosi) EN
Dark-winged Miner (Geositta saxicolina) LC
White-bellied Cinclodes (Cinclodes palliatus) CR
Junin Canastero (Asthenes virgata) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Cordillera Huayhuash Peru
Vilcanota Peru
PE077 Lago de Junín Peru
PE078 Marcapomacocha Peru
PE080 Pampas Pucacocha y Curicocha Peru
PE082 Yauli Peru

Threat and conservation

Pollution and man-made changes in the water-level at Lago de Junín are factors that appear to be having adverse effects on the two lake endemics, and consequently both species are considered threatened. Cinclodes palliatus appears to have very specific habitat needs (though their precise nature remains unknown), and although not threatened from habitat destruction, the bird has a small and declining population which would be vulnerable should mining commence within its range (Collar et al. 1992, 1994). Pale-tailed Canastero Asthenes huancavelicae (classified as Vulnerable) is a more widespread threatened species found in this general area.

Four Key Areas-Lago de Junín, Marcapomacocha, Pampa Pucacocha and Yauli-have been identified for the conservation of these four threatened species (Wege and Long 1995). Lago de Junín is a national reserve (at which all three threatened restricted-range birds have been recorded), although this has had little effect in preventing pollution and water-level changes (Valqui 1994, Wege and Long 1995). The Huayllay National Sanctuary may also protect some of the species in this EBA (IUCN 1992a).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Junín puna. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/07/2019.