Central Chile

Country/Territory Chile
Area 160,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 2400m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss major
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA is centred on one of the few areas of the world that has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by modest annual precipitation (totalling less than 800 mm, of which 90% falls in winter), warm summers and cool winters when frosts are rare. The EBA follows the Pacific coast from Quebrada Paposa and Antofagasta provinces in Chile, south to around the Bío Bío river, and inland to the lower slopes of the Andes. The northern end of the EBA is formed by the southern boundary of the Atacama desert, where the climate is arid (annual rainfall less than 25 mm), and the southern end is the northern boundary of the Chilean temperate forests (EBA 061), where there is a marked increase in summer rainfall.

The vegetation is essentially scrub matorral and semi-arid grassland, but there are also hard-leaf (sclerophyllous) forests located in the more humid southern end of the EBA, mainly in the coastal hills south of Valparaiso in Maule, Ñuble, and Concepción provinces, and in the Andean foothills in Santiago province. There is high vegetational diversity, more than 56% of Chile's plant species being present in an area which comprises only 6% of the national territory; more than 2,900 species have been recorded, at least 50% being endemic (Myers 1990).

Restricted-range species

The majority of the restricted-range birds are found, through a wide range of altitudes, in arid scrub lying among rocky slopes. However, Pteroptochos castaneus is confined to the sclerophyllous forest in the southern part of the EBA, often favouring areas with a bamboo understorey. P. castaneus was listed as a subspecies of Black-throated Huet-huet P. tarnii by Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), but striking differences in plumage and consistent differences in song and call indicate that it should be considered a full species (Howell and Webb 1995b). Eugralla paradoxa is the only species shared with another EBA; it is principally a species of the Chilean temperate forests (EBA 061), but also occurs in the sclerophyllous forest of central Chile. Most of the species confined to the EBA are not found south of the Bío Bío river, but Nothoprocta pedicaria and Mimus thenca extend beyond it where there are grassy and shrubby habitats. Additionally, Chilean Pigeon Columba araucana and Slender-billed Parrot Enicognathus leptorhynchus, two restricted-range species of the Chilean temperate forests (EBA 061), are found in this EBA as wintering birds.

Species IUCN Category
Chilean Tinamou (Nothoprocta perdicaria) LC
Chestnut-throated Huet-huet (Pteroptochos castaneus) LC
Moustached Turca (Pteroptochos megapodius) LC
White-throated Tapaculo (Scelorchilus albicollis) LC
Ochre-flanked Tapaculo (Eugralla paradoxa) LC
Crag Earthcreeper (Ochetorhynchus melanurus) LC
Dusky-tailed Canastero (Pseudasthenes humicola) LC
Chilean Mockingbird (Mimus thenca) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Lago Peñuelas Chile
Paposo Norte Chile
Parque Nacional La Campana Chile
Putu Chile
AR220 Reserva Provincial Lagunas de Epulaufquen Argentina
CL032 Parque Nacional Bosque de Fray Jorge Chile
CL033 Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas Chile
CL039 Santuario de la Naturaleza Yerba Loca Chile
CL041 Valle del Yeso Chile
CL042 Reserva Nacional Río Clarillo Chile
CL047 Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay Chile
CL050 Corredor Biológico Nevados de Chillán-Laguna del Laja Chile
CL051 Parque Tumbes Talcahuano Chile
CL056 Reserva Nacional Nonguén Chile

Threat and conservation

Scrub and grassland habitats, particularly in the lowlands, are threatened by conversion to agriculture and pasture, and by development, frequent anthropogenic fires, exotic species and grazing, while the forest is threatened by intensive logging, timber plantations and firewood collection. Only a third of the original 140,000 km2 of Mediterranean-type habitat remains (Myers 1990, Dinerstein et al. 1995). The region is the most densely inhabited part of Chile, holding over half the country's human population, and continued habitat destruction is likely as the rate of population growth is 1.7% per year (Myers 1990).

Nevertheless, the restricted-range species are considered to be common in remaining habitat-except for Nothoprocta perdicaria which is scarce in the north of its range owing to hunting (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). This contrasts markedly with the plants, of which 580 species are already characterized as rare or threatened (Myers 1990). There are few protected areas in the EBA, especially in comparison to adjacent areas in the Andes.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Central Chile. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2022.