The montane forests of northern Peru have been the focus of ongoing systematic inventories to determine their composition and extent. The forests we have surveyed are all within the Department of Cajamarca, with the exception of Canchaque forest from adjacent Piura. The department of Cajamarca has an area of ca. 3,500,000 ha, including an estimated 32,000 ha of deciduous and evergreen montane forests. Forests are fragmented by cutting for timber and clearing for pastureland and by the nature of river drainage basins. The upper limit of montane forest is around 3000 m (ca. 9,800 feet), where it intergrades with alpine vegetation (jalca or puna) which extends to over 4500 m (ca. 15,000 feet). At their lower limits, the forests grade into tropical deciduous forests and semiarid scrub (900-1200 m).
The composition of the forests has been compiled and a database [DETBASE] constructed. The forest have yielded a total of 144 families, 486 genera, and approximately 1100 species of ferns, fern allies, gymnosperms, and flowering plants. The largest families are the Asteraceae (57 genera, 78 species), Orchidaceae (24 genera, 59 species), Solanaceae (19 genera, 56 species), Poaceae (27 genera, 47 species) and Rubiaceae (17 genera, 40 species). For a detailed discussion of montane forest distribution and generic listing consult Dillon et al. 1995.
The unique nature of the forests of northern Peru has long been recognized. They are home to many plant and animal species with restricted distributions (endemics). An analysis of generic similarity between the forests of northern Peru and southern Ecuador suggest that there was more continuous forests in the distant past.
Checklists for four forest localities are provided and their postions indicated on the map.
Dillon, M. O., A. Sagástegui A., I. Sánchez V., S. Llatas Q., & N. Hensold. 1995. Floristic Inventory and Biogeographic Analysis of Montane Forests in Northwestern Peru. Biodiversity and Conservation of Neotropical Montane Forests, pp. 251-269. The New York Botanical Garden, New York.
Dillon, M. O. 1994. Bosques húmedos del norte del Perú. Arnaldoa 2(1): 29-42.
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