At an ecological level, Guatemala presents 7 main ecosystems, one of them considered unique to the country, the Thorn Scrub of the Motagua Valley. These ecosystems are defined by characteristic abiotic factors (such as altitude, temperatureand precipitation), as well as dominant plants composition.

Guatemala’s natural diversity is the result of both historical and geographical factors, especially the ones related to topography and climate. The high and complex biodiversity is product of two pre historical events; the north-south migration due to the closing of the Central American isthmus, and the altitudinal migration and climate changes related to the glaciations.

More than 720 bird species have been reported in Guatemala; about 370 of them are known to breed in the country, but recent data indicate that 116 more should be added to the breeding list. On the other hand a total of 221 species are classified as non-breeding migrants from North or South America In a geographical spatial perspective the Atlantic Slope of Guatemala presents higher species richness values. However the vast majority of regional endemic species are located at the Highlands. Around twenty two (22) species inhabiting the highlands are endemic to the Northern Central American Highlands.

Three (3) more species are endemic to the Northern Central American Pacific Slope and nine (9) species are endemic to the Yucatan peninsula. The species living in the lowlands are more closely related to the South American avifauna; and the ones living in the highlands have North American ancestors.

  1. Tropical Humid Forest:

    Representative of the Northern and Eastern Part of Peten. Characterized by its flat terrain, karstic landscape, exuberant forests and high values of species richness and diversity. The climate is hot and humid; and this is where the Mayan Biosphere Reserve is located. It is the country’s largest remnant of jungle and home of the most spectacular Mayan archeological sites; including Tikal declared as a Cultural and Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. Representative bird species:

  2. Representative bird species:

  3. Tropical Rain Forest:

    Somehow similar to a Tropical Humid Forest, but with much higher levels of rainfall and atmospheric humidity, this ecosystem ranges from sea level to 1,300 m (4,290 ft) in altitude. It is the wettest part of the country, and holds several ecosystems, such as bogs, floodable forests, wetlands, estuaries, Caribbean marine coastlands, tall evergreen forests, savannahs and associated grasslands. Representative bird species:

  4. Representative bird species:

  5. Cloud Forest:

    It presents a complex flora structure in high relief areas ranging from 1,000 to 2,900 m above sea level (3,300 to 9,570 ft). It is characterized by great micro habitat diversity, high levels of atmospheric humidity and exuberant vegetation typical of mixed forest, where mosses and ferns grow. All these characteristics combined make these a high endemism region. Representative bird species:

  6. Representative bird species:

  7. Montane Forest:

    This region is very similar to Nearctic forests; where coniferous, birch and oaks are abundant. Its altitudinal range goes from 2,000 to 4,200 m above sea level (6,600 to 13,860 ft). Season changes are quite noticeable in the forest vegetation, passing from the dry to the rainy season. This region is characterized by its volcanic landscape, beautiful Lake Atitlan, and for having the most numerous indigenous populations of Mayans in the country. Representative bird species:

  8. Representative bird species:

  9. Dry Scrub:

    This is a very dry region, created by the rain shadow effect of the Sierras de las Minas mountain range. As all dry areas, it has low levels of rainfall and characteristic flora of dry forest and xerophytic areas; well adapted to local conditions. Abundant cacti, acacias, Guayacan trees and low briery, most of them with spines, are common in the region. It is the hottest and driest ecosystems of the country, and considered to be the driest of all Central America. It is one of the most fragile and uniquenatural systems of Guatemala.

  10. Representative bird species:

  11. Sub Tropical Humid Forest:

    Located along the transition zone between the highlands and the Pacific Coast, along the volcanic chain southern slope. It ranges between 800 and 1200 meters above sea level (2,640 to 3600 ft). It is showered by abundant rainfall and broadleaf vegetation dominates the area. This is a very interesting birding region because it presents an ecotone between the highlands and lowlands

  12. Representative bird species:

  13. Tropical Humid Savannah:

    The southern coast of the country used to be a tropical rainforest. Due to its fertile soils, the area has been turned into agricultural fields, where sugarcane dominates, as well as rubber, macadamia and African palm plantations. A few remnants of original vegetation to this region maintain local biodiversity in evergreen tropical forests along watersheds, savannahs and mangrove forests; that protects local biodiversity and creates an interesting habitat for thousands of resident and migratory bird species.

  14. Representative bird species:

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