Atlantic forest mountains

Country/Territory Argentina,Brazil
Area 260,000 km2
Altitude 500 - 2800m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge good

General characteristics

This EBA encompasses the upper subtropical and montane areas of eastern Brazil, and extreme north-east Argentina. The EBA is centred on the upland areas of Serra da Mantiqueira (with its highest point at Pico Agulhas Negras, 2,787 m) and Serra do Mar of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states-but it also extends further to the north, south and west. In the north there are small and often isolated pockets of montane forest in Espírito Santo, eastern Minas Gerais (e.g. Serra do Caparaó) and in Serra do Ouricana in south-central Bahia. To the south the EBA extends into Paraná along the Serra Paranapiacaba and into Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul along the Serra do Mar, Serra Geral and into the Serra do Sudeste of south-east Rio Grande do Sul. To the west the EBA reaches extreme north-east Argentina in Misiones state. Lying adjacent to this EBA are the south-east Brazilian Atlantic forest lowlands (EBA 075).

The natural vegetation is a variety of humid forest with increasing proportions of conifer forest (Araucaria angustifolia and Podocarpus lambertii) in the south and west. At upper elevations of the Serras da Mantiqueira, do Mar, and Paranapiacaba there are extremely humid cloud-forests (elfin forest), which are open and low in stature (up to 15 m tall), dominated by Weinmannia, Drymys brasiliensis, Lamanonia speciosa, Rapanea and Miconia. The mountain slopes (mainly above 800 m) are dominated by humid montane forest which holds many trees taller than 30 m covered in epiphytes and lianas, with a rich understorey including tree ferns. The montane forest, like that in the lowlands, is very rich in plant species, with high levels of endemism (WWF/IUCN 1997).

Restricted-range species

Most of the restricted-range bird species are forest-dwelling, the exceptions being Cinclodes pabsti, which is found in the rocky savanna, and Sporophila melanogaster, which occurs in scrub and marsh (both breed in north-east Rio Grande Sul and adjacent Santa Catarina). Three species-Drymophila genei, D. rubricollis and Hemitriccus obsoletus-favour bamboo stands. Only a few are restricted to upper altitudes, notably Schizoeaca moreirae and Tijuca condita, but also Drymophila genei, Tijuca atra and Phylloscartes difficilis. Thus many of the birds in this EBA can overlap at their lower altitudinal limits with a few of the species found in the adjacent south-east Brazilian Atlantic forest lowlands (EBA 075).

In the previous analysis (ICBP 1992) four species (Amazona pretrei, Leptasthenura striolata, L. setaria and Piprites pileatus) were treated as forming their own EBA, being associated mainly with Araucaria forest. However, L. setaria is the only one found exclusively in such forest; A. pretrei also breeds in forest dominated by Podocarpus lambertii, especially in the Serra do Sudeste (Varty et al. 1994), and possibly wanders in the austral winter as far north as Paraguay (Lowen et al. 1996); L. striolata is also associated with Podocarpus-dominated forest mixed in with Araucaria forest; and Piprites pileatus is found in humid montane forest in the north of its range in Rio de Janeiro state.

Knowledge of the avifauna of south-east Brazil is constantly improving through fieldwork and museum-based research, as demonstrated by the discoveries over the last 20 years of Synallaxis whitneyi and Phylloscartes beckeri (from southern Bahia, described as new to science in 1995: Gonzaga and Pacheco 1995, Pacheco and Gonzaga 1995), and Tijuca condita (from the Serra do Mar in Rio de Janeiro state: Snow 1980). S. whitneyi and P. beckeri are both confined to the northernmost part of the EBA in the Serra do Ouricana; recent surveys in this small range of isolated hills not only discovered these new taxa but made significant northward range extensions for more than 20 species, including some of this EBA's restricted-range species (Gonzaga et al. 1995); see 'Distribution patterns' table.

Species IUCN Category
Red-spectacled Amazon (Amazona pretrei) VU
Rufous-backed Antvireo (Dysithamnus xanthopterus) LC
Rufous-tailed Antbird (Drymophila genei) LC
Ochre-rumped Antbird (Drymophila ochropyga) NT
Marsh Tapaculo (Scytalopus iraiensis) EN
Rufous-tailed Antthrush (Chamaeza ruficauda) LC
Long-tailed Cinclodes (Cinclodes pabsti) NT
Araucaria Tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura setaria) NT
Striolated Tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura striolata) LC
Itatiaia Spinetail (Asthenes moreirae) LC
Bahia Spinetail (Synallaxis cinerea) NT
Serra do Mar Tyrant-manakin (Neopelma chrysolophum) LC
Black-and-gold Cotinga (Lipaugus ater) LC
Grey-winged Cotinga (Lipaugus conditus) VU
Black-capped Piprites (Piprites pileata) NT
Bahia Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes beckeri) EN
Serra do Mar Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes difficilis) LC
Brown-breasted Bamboo-tyrant (Hemitriccus obsoletus) LC
Grey-capped Tyrannulet (Phyllomyias griseocapilla) NT
Grey-backed Tachuri (Polystictus superciliaris) LC
Olive-green Tanager (Orthogonys chloricterus) LC
Black-bellied Seedeater (Sporophila melanogaster) NT
Bay-chested Warbling-finch (Castanozoster thoracicus) LC
Brassy-breasted Tanager (Tangara desmaresti) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
AR111 Parque Nacional Iguazú y alrededores Argentina
AR112 Parque Provincial Uruzú y Reserva Forestal San Jorge Argentina
AR116 San Antonio Argentina
AR119 Alta cuenca del arroyo Alegría Argentina
AR121 Parque Provincial Piñalito y alrededores Argentina
AR122 Parque Provincial Cruce Caballero Argentina
AR123 San Pedro Argentina
AR124 Reserva Privada Yaguaroundí Argentina
AR126 Reserva de la Biósfera Yabotí Argentina
BR100 Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina Brazil
BR105 Boa Nova / Serra da Ouricana Brazil
BR110 Serras das Lontras e do Javi Brazil
BR111 Serra Bonita Brazil
BR150 Parque Estadual da Serra do Papagaio Brazil
BR164 Parque Nacional do Caparaó Brazil
BR171 Serra da Mantiqueira Brazil
BR175 Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar (entre Santos e São Sebastião) Brazil
BR185 Parque Nacional de Itatiaia Brazil
BR188 Serra dos Órgãos Brazil
BR190 Serra do Tinguá Brazil
BR194 Serra da Bocaina / Paraty / Angra dos Reis Brazil
BR200 Campos Gerais do Paraná Brazil
BR201 Várzeas da Região Metropolitana de Curitiba Brazil
BR202 Serra do Marumbi Brazil
BR212 General Carneiro Brazil
BR222 Campos do Planalto das Araucárias Brazil
BR225 Região dos Aparados da Serra Brazil
BR226 Banhado dos Pachecos Brazil
BR227 Médio Rio Camaquã Brazil

Threat and conservation

The historical size of this EBA is difficult to assess as the extent of Araucaria forest has been much reduced by man. In the state of Paraná alone, for example, it has been estimated that the original forest covered 73,780 km2, but in 1965 only 15,932 km2 remained (Hueck 1978). However, the humid montane forest in the centre of the EBA in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo has suffered less destruction than forest in the neighbouring lowlands, and large areas remain, notably in São Paulo. Nevertheless, the isolated montane forests in the north of the EBA, especially in the Serra do Ouricana, have virtually disappeared owing to the expansion of pastureland and cultivation. It is likely that the remaining forest patches will be under pressure from clearance or from fires spreading out of cultivated areas (Gonzaga et al. 1995). This part of the EBA is of critical priority for conservation action (Whitney 1996).

Only three restricted-range species in the EBA are presently considered threatened; the threat status of the two new species from the Serra do Ouricana is yet to be formally evaluated, but both will certainly be considered threatened because of their small ranges and diminishing habitat. A further nine more-widespread threatened birds occur in this region, including a large part of the range of the threatened Vinaceous Amazon Amazona vinacea (classified as Endangered) in upland forest in the southern part of this EBA. The greatly reduced extent of the Araucaria forest is the principal reason for Amazona pretrei and Piprites pileatus being classified as threatened, and Tijuca condita is listed because of its highly restricted range which could be susceptible to disturbance such as fires started by hikers (Collar et al. 1992).

There are a large number of national and state parks that hold suitable habitat for, and populations of, the restricted-range species. These include Caparaó (Minas Gerais-Espírito Santo), Itatiaia (Rio de Janeiro-Minas Gerais, 300 km2), Serra dos Órgãos (Rio de Janeiro, 110 km2), Serra do Tinguá (Rio de Janeiro, 260 km2), Campos do Jordão (São Paulo, 83 km2), Serra da Bocaina (São Paulo, 1,000 km2), Serra do Mar State Park (São Paulo, 3,148 km2), Fazenda Intervales (São Paulo, 380 km2), Alto Ribeira (São Paulo, 377 km2) and Aparados da Serra (Rio Grande do Sul, 123 km2).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Atlantic forest mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/06/2022.