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Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena Hotspot

The Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena hotspot is spread over an area of 274,597 km that extends across the Panama Canal region, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia to the islands of Malpelo and the Galapagos. Vegetation in this hotspot includes mangrove forests, coastal dry forests and some patches of wet rainforests.

With 11,000 plant, 285 mammal, 890 bird, 327 reptile, 203 amphibian and 251 freshwater fish species, the Chocó Tumbes hotspot is a region high in biodiversity. Genera of flora endemic to the hotspot include Otoba, Trianaeopiper, Schlegelia, and Cremosperma while in the Colombian Chocó, distinctive tree species seen include members of the genera, Podocarpus, Talauma, Hedyosmum, Meliosma, Brunellia, Panopsis and Ilex.

The hotspot has several areas that are critical for conservation of threatened bird species like the white-winged guan (Penelope albipennis) and the Peruvian plantcutter (Phytotoma raimondii) and the (Vireo masteri).

Flagship species of mammals include, three species of spider monkeys-Ateles fusciceps, A. geoffroyi and A. hybridus and three species of bare-faced tamarins-the cotton top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus), rufous-naped tamarin (S. geoffroyi) and the white-footed tamarin (S. leucopus). Other mammalian inhabitants include the rice rats (Nesoryzomys spp.), the Galápagos Islands fur seals (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) that are the smallest pinnipeds, jaguars (Panthera onca), Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) and the olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii).

Threatened species of endemic reptiles include the marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), the Santa Fe land iguana (Conolophus pallidus), the Galápagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus), Dahl's toadhead turtle (Phrynops dahli) and Dunn's mud turtle (Kinosternon dunni). The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) also occurs here. Among amphibians, the region is home to the golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis), one of the world's most poisonous vertebrates whose poison is used by the local Emberá Indians in their blowgun darts.

This fragile ecosystem is severely threatened by hunting, conversion of forest land for agriculture and palm oil plantations, clearing of mangrove ecosystems for shrimp farming, timber and fuelwood, mining and construction of roads, dams and canals. About 34,338 sq km or 12.5% of the land is under some form of protection. Conservation organisations like the Global Conservation Fund and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund have invested in conservation efforts in this hotspot.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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