Peru-Chile Pacific slope

Country/Territory Chile,Peru
Area 95,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 4000m
Priority high
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge good

General characteristics

This long EBA embraces the Pacific slope and coastal lowlands from northernmost Lima department (c.11°S), south through Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna departments of Peru, and Tarapaca department of Chile. Within this range are included all the arid zones on the Pacific slope (tropical to temperate), and some of the larger arid inter-montane valleys, from sea-level to c.4,000 m, the higher-altitude areas being mostly in the south of the EBA.

This EBA is desert, almost totally devoid of vegetation save strips of dense Salix and Schinus scrub along the few river valleys that bring water from the distant Andes. At slightly higher elevations (c.1,000 m), precipitation from winter coastal fogs (which form over the cool Pacific Ocean currents) support the 'lomas' formations of annuals, shrubs, cacti and Tillandsia-clad trees; elsewhere, the rocky mountain slopes are covered in arid cactus scrub, with higher areas supporting Polylepis woodland and scrub (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Dinerstein et al. 1995).

Restricted-range species

The restricted-range species variously occupy all habitats, with populations or subspecies in the north tending to occur at lower altitudes than the equivalent populations further south (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990).

Three species-Cinclodes taczanowskii, Geositta peruviana and Sporophila simplex-are shared with the adjacent Tumbesian region (EBA 045) to the north; they are primarily coastal birds with the greater part of their ranges in the northern coastal area, although both the genera Cinclodes and Geositta originated as radiations from southern Patagonia (J. Fjeldså in litt. 1993).

Streaked Tit-spinetail Leptasthenura striata, Pied-crested Tit-tyrant Anairetes reguloides and Raimondi's Yellow-finch Sicalis raimondii are all essentially confined to this EBA, but have breeding distributions that are too large to qualify them as restricted-range birds (and all three undertake movements beyond their breeding ranges, with L. striata and A. reguloides recorded up into the higher mountains of north-west Apurímac, Huancavelica and Ayacucho).

Species IUCN Category
Chilean Woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii) CR
Coastal Miner (Geositta peruviana) LC
Thick-billed Miner (Geositta crassirostris) LC
White-throated Earthcreeper (Upucerthia albigula) LC
Surf Cinclodes (Cinclodes taczanowskii) LC
Cactus Canastero (Pseudasthenes cactorum) LC
Drab Seedeater (Sporophila simplex) LC
Slender-billed Finch (Xenospingus concolor) NT
Tamarugo Conebill (Conirostrum tamarugense) VU

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Lomos de Atocongo Peru
Noreste de Tarata Peru
Sechura Peru
Sur de la Cordillera de Colán Peru
UNIDA A ZR TUMBES- Zona Reservada de Tumbes Peru
Valle de Camarones sector Cuya Chile
Zona Reservada de Tumbes Peru
CL001 Precordillera Socoroma-Putre Chile
CL002 Parque Nacional Lauca Chile
CL007 Valle Azapa Chile
CL009 Valle de Chaca Chile
CL010 Valle de Codpa Chile
CL012 Valle Camarones Chile
CL014 Reserva Nacional Pampa del Tamarugal Chile
PE032 Reserva Nacional Lomas de Lachay Peru
PE034 Pantanos de Villa Peru
PE037 Pisco Peru
PE038 Reserva Nacional de Paracas Peru
PE039 Nazca Peru
PE041 Cotahuasi Peru
PE043 Atiquipa Peru
PE044 Valle del Majes Peru
PE046 Río Tambo y Lagunas de Mejía Peru
PE047 Volcán Yucamani Peru
PE048 Laguna de Ite Peru
PE049 Tacna Peru
PE102 Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca Peru

Threat and conservation

Overgrazing by domestic livestock, alteration of water flow patterns in the river valleys, and firewood collection all threaten the vegetation in this area (Dinerstein et al. 1995). Almost all available flat areas in the vegetated river valleys have been cultivated, as have many of the inter-montane valleys; however, the arid vegetation of the remaining areas is still essentially intact (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Collar et al. 1992).

Three restricted-range species in this EBA are considered threatened, two of which (Eulidia yarrellii and Conirostrum tamarugense) are confined to the southernmost portion: E. yarrellii is confined to just a few arid valleys where extensive cultivation has led to its almost total reliance on flowering plants in gardens; C. tamarugense is almost certainly an altitudinal migrant, and for at least part of the year relies wholly on the now much-depleted high-elevation Polylepis Gynoxys woodlands; and Xenospingus concolor, despite its range (which embraces most of this EBA), is now restricted to the narrow strips of vegetation along rivers of the otherwise intensively irrigated and cultivated valleys (Collar . 1992).

Six Key Areas in Peru and six in Chile have been identified for the conservation of these threatened birds (Wege and Long 1995). These include, at the southernmost end of the EBA, two Key Areas for Conirostrum tamarugense, both of which are protected within the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve. In Peru, protected areas (important for threatened species) include the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve (from which there are records of the widespread but threatened White-tailed Shrike-tyrant Agriornis andicola, classified as Vulnerable) and the Laguna de Mejía National Sanctuary. The Paracas National Reserve embraces a number of arid islands, of which Isla San Gallán supports one of the largest remaining populations of the Peruvian Diving-petrel Pelecanoides garnotii (Endangered), and is potentially of importance for a couple of restricted-range species.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Peru-Chile Pacific slope. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/03/2020.