Cordillera_de_la_Costa_montane_forests

Cordillera de la Costa montane forests

The Cordillera de la Costa montane forests is a montane tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of northern Venezuela.

Setting

The montane forests consist of eleven enclaves, lying between 600 and 2675 meters elevation, in the Venezuelan Coastal Range (Cordillera de la Costa). The moist forests cover an area of 14,300 square kilometers (5,500 square miles).

The Venezuelan Coastal Range, which is actually two parallel ranges, runs east and west across northern Venezuela, separating the Orinoco River basin to the south from the Caribbean Sea to the north. The range consists of western and eastern sections. The Coastal Range is a northeastern extension of the Andes Mountains, separated from the Cordillera de Mérida to the southwest by the Yaracuy Depression. These forest enclaves are surrounded at lower elevations by the dry La Costa xeric shrublands, and are separated from both the moist forests of the Andes and of Amazonia by dry shrublands and the vast Llanos grasslands of the Orinoco basin.

Flora

The ecoregion is home to three main plant communities, evergreen transition forests, evergreen montane cloud forests, and upper montane elfin forest, which are determined by elevation and exposure.

The evergreen transition forests extend from 600–900 meters to 1000 meters elevation. They lie above the drier lower montane semi-deciduous forests of the La Costa xeric shrublands. The transition forests have a closed canopy made up of Trophis racemosa, Ficus macbridei, Tetragastris caracasana, Zanthoxylum ocumarense, Banara nitida, etc. The giant endemic tree Gyranthera caribensis, which can grow up to 60 meters in height, forms small emergent stands that rise above the forest canopy. The understory is composed of woody shrubs, ferns, and large herbs like Heliconia bihai, Heliconia revoluta, and Dieffenbachia maculata.

The Evergreen montane cloud forests range from 1000 to 2000-2400 meters elevation, and the most species-rich plant community in the ecoregion. The forests have a closed canopy of 15-20 meters elevation. Palms are common in both the canopy and the understory, growing as solitary trees or in large clumps, depending on the species. The forests support a dense understory of shrubs, herbs, and ferns, and the trees are festooned with abundant epiphytes (ferns, orchids, bromeliads, ericads and gesneriads).

The upper montane elfin forest and scrub is found above 2000–2400 meters. It consists of low mossy forests of dwarfed trees, including Clusia multiflora, Weinmannia spp., and Prumnopitys harmsiana, as well as open scrublands dominated by Libanothamnus neriifolius.

Fauna

Conservation and threats

External links

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