Natural Ecoregions in Peru
The Peruvian scholar Antonio Brack Egg, taking in consideration different ecological factors: climate types, geographical regions, hydrography, flora and fauna has identified the existence of eleven ecoregions in Peru.
1. - The Cold Sea of the Peruvian Current or Humboldt
It embraces from the center of Chile up to the 5º of south latitude in Piura. Its low temperature until the 13º or 14º C in winter and in summer it arrives to 15º or 17º C.
The waters of this sea are green due to the abundance of the plankton. The phenomenon is given of “blooming of the waters”, that is to say, the nutrients of the marine funds are displaced toward the surface. This phenomenon takes place in an extension of 1.500 kilometers long for 60 kilometers wide.
In this ecoregion live approximately 600 species of fish. The most abundant are the sardine and the anchovies which serve like food to other fish. Among them: the bonito (Pacific bonito), the barrilete (frigate tuna), the jurel (jack mackerel), the cojinova (choicy ruff), the corvina (sea bass), the pejerrey (silverside), the machete (Pacific menhaden), the lorna (sand grunt), the borracho (giant blenny), the lisa (white mullet) and the róbalo (black snook).
There are 26 species of dolphins, as well as whales,sperm whales, sea lions and sea otters. Among the birds figure: the penguin of Humboldt, the guanay (cormorant), the chuita, the piquero (Peruvian booby), the zarcillo, the brujilla, the potoyunco and the Peruvian pelican.
2. - The Tropical Sea
It extends from the 5º of south latitude in Piura, until the south of California in the United States. The current of “El Niño” has a crucial influence in this ecoregion.
The costs of Piura and Tumbes are warm all the year, the temperatures of the sea are 19ºC and in summer they are more than 22º C. The waters have low salinity due to the rains that introduce abundant quantities of fresh water. This sea is not rich in nutritious because there is not blooming, neither they have so much oxygenate due to the tropical temperatures.
The main fish are: the flying fish, the yellow fin tuna, the black marlin and the small barrel. The typical birds are the giant petrel, the dove of the end, the bird frigate and the bird of the tropic.
In this ecoregion is located the area of mangroves that grow in the marine banks. During the low tide the roots are exposed, so the terrestrial animals go looking for food. But when the tide ascends enter to the swamps the marine species, they are Plentiful of black shells, prawns and crabs. And the symbol of this area, the American or Tumbes alligator.
3. - The Desert of the Pacific
It embraces from the 5º of south latitude (Piura) to 27º of south latitude (north of Chile) in the coast. Their average width is 20 Km. It is characterized by the absence of rains, so the area is a desert. There is vegetation only in the fluvial valleys and the “lomas”(areas where fogs blow against the mountain) this are oases that shelter plentiful and diverse animals and plat wildlife.
The lomas fill with vegetation in winter (of May to October). This phenomenon is possible only in the hillsides that look toward the sea. For that reason just they happen in punctual places of the coast.
In the rivers of this ecoregion the shrimps were plentiful, but at the moment in almost all the valleys have disappeared.
4. - The Equatorial Dry Forest
It extends from the gulf of Guayaquil (0º 30 ' of south latitude) until La Libertad (7º 40 ' of south latitude). In its wider part it arrives until the 150 kilometers and it reaches the 1.500 meters of altitude.
Its climate is characterized by an annual dry station that can cover nine months of the year.
The equatorial dry forest penetrates toward the interior and it extends on the lowest floor in the valley of the Marañón until the 2.800 m.a.s.l.
The main vegetable formation is the carob tree, and in the rainiest area the ceibo tree, this contrary to the carob trees depends directly of rains.
Here live the white-tailed deer, coastal foxes, white-winged guans, tamandua ant-eaters and white neck squirrels.
5. - The Pacific Tropical Forest
It embraces from the north of Tumbes to Costa Rica. It is covered for forests always green, the trees surpass the 30 meters high. It is the only area of the Peruvian coast where there are monkeys in their natural atmosphere. The are two species: the howler monkey or coto from Tumbes and the white monkey.
6. - The Highlands Steppes
This region covers from 1.000 meters until the 3.800 meters. From La Libertad region (7º 40 ' of south latitude) until the north of Chile.
The average temperatures oscillate between the 6º and 12º C. to more altitude the rains are more abundant and the vegetation is denser.
In the superior parts to the 3.000 meters the most characteristic tree is the alder.
7. - The High Andean Plain (Puna)
It corresponds to the high parts of the Andes, over the 3.800 meters. Its climate is cold and the solar light is strong.
The ichu is the most extended grass. The winds that blow all the time make that the temperature is low and the atmosphere too dry.
In this ecoregion inhabit the Andean Condor and the pumas, the vicuñas, vizcachas (rodent related to the rabbit), the Andean fox and the wild guinea pig. The taruca or Andean deer is the only one cervid that arrives to the highest parts.
8. - The High Plateau Paramo
It extends from Venezuela, through Colombia and Ecuador until the north of Peru. It is located in the regions of Piura and Cajamarca, in the high basins of the rivers Chinchipe, Huancabamba and Quirós. (3.500 meters). It is an area of many fogs. The temperature at nights drops to less 0º C. In what refers to its vegetation this is very similar to the Puna.
9. - The High Jungle (Cloud Forest)
This region covers the oriental flank of the Andes, from the frontier with Ecuador until the frontier with Bolivia, among the 500 to 3.500 meters.
Their climate is very varied. The rains can exceed the 3.000 annual millimeters.
The trees are lower as it increases the altitude. Among the 2.500 at 3.000-3.800 meters (Brow of Jungle) the trees only reach about 15 meters, the humidity allows the abundance of plants epiphytes that grow in the trees and also on the floor.
In this ecoregion lives the Andean cock of the rocks, Peru`s national bird.
10. - The Low Jungle (Tropical Rain Forest)
It corresponds to the Amazon forests located less than 600 meters high. It is relatively flat. Its temperature is from 24º to 26º C. The high temperatures and environmental humidity allow having the biggest diversity of species.
Great part of the fauna inhabits in high part of the trees and in smaller quantity at the level of the floor where the dimness reigns.
Here are abundant the lagoons, creeks and swamps. Also live river otters and the paiche, the biggest fish in the jungle. Other typical animals are the monkeys, the lazy, parrots and macaws, the harpy eagle and the anaconda.
11. – The Palm Tree Savanna
It is located in a small area of Madre de Dios, in the pampas of the Heath River. Trees don't exist, only palm trees, mainly the aguaje. This ecoregion is flooded in rainy seasons and are commons the fires during the dry station.