Río Negro-Juruá Moist Forests

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Wet season, Llanos of Orinoco, Venezuela.
© WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Caqueta moist forests; Negro-Branco moist forests; Solimões-Japurá moist forest; and Japurá-Solimoes-Negro moist forests.

The combination of high rainfall, edaphic and topographic variability, and historical biogeographical patterns render these forests some of the most species diverse in the world.

Although this relatively intact ecoregion contains a great complexity of forest types, much of the region is poorly known. So far scientists have discovered that some areas support extremely high species richness and endemism that match globally outstanding levels of the adjacent Western Arc forests.

The largest biosphere reserve in the tropics, the Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve, lies mostly in the Negro-Branco moist forests.
Size:
834,000 sq. km (322,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
Selected species include golden-mantled tamarin (Saguinus tripartitus), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), jaguar (Panthera onca), emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus), and the large carnivorous Linnaeus's false vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum).

Caqueta moist forests are known for famous snakes such as fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), palm pit-vipers (Bothriechis spp.), Philodrias viridisimun, coral snakes (Micrurus spp.), boa constrictors (Boa constrictor) and bushmasters (Lachesis muta).

The Solimões-Japurá moist forest is an area of great complexity, comprising a mosaic of soils that host a diversity of vegetation types. In a single region of Colombia, 15 vegetation types have been defined.

Avifauna diversity is extremely high with 542 species, including restricted range species such as the blue-tufted starthroats (Heliomaster furcifer), and the endemic ochre-striped antpittas (Grallaria dignissima). The largest freshwater turtle in the world (Podocnemys expansa) inhabits the rivers of this region.

Featured Species

The fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper) or terciopélo is a large tropical pit viper, with a mean size of 1.6 m (5 ft), females being much larger than males. Sometimes though, it can reach 1.8-3 m (6-10 ft) in length. Young individuals tend to be arboreal, while adults prefer the ground, where they feed primarily on small mammals, especially opossums.

Pit vipers are a subfamily (Crotalinae) of the vipers, Family Viperidae, and include the rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads, hognosed vipers, jumping vipers, palm vipers, and bushmasters. All pit vipers are characterized by the presence of facial pits, a heat-sensitive organ used to detect prey. Like many pit vipers, the fer-de-lance is a sit-and-wait predator, using its cryptic coloration to ambush passing prey.

Fer-de-lance ranges from northeastern Mexico through Colombia and Ecuador, and is largely ubiquitous throughout its range, occurring in both wet and dry regions, high and low elevations, and in primary forest to areas of high disturbance and human activity. It is also very prolific, having a litter size of up to 86 young.

It also has highly potent venom, and is responsible for many snakebites to humans each year in Central America (primarily to farmers and fieldworkers), more than any other tropical snake. Despite its relevance to human health, very little data exists on the behavior, movements, or habitat usage of the species in the wild.
Threats
Deforestation, over fishing, agricultural conversion, colonisation, animal and plant collecting, large-scale cattle ranching and road construction pose significant threats.

Large quantities of ornamental fish, particularly arawana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum), are harvested for international trade in the Caqueta moist forests and its trafficking should be strongly regulated.

The leaves of the palm Leopoldinia piassaba are harvested destructively to make brooms for international markets, and this species may be overexploited. Timber species, such as mahogany, have become commercially extinct, and tropical cedar is similarly threatened with local extinction.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
Fishermen with a boat full of fish caught in the varzea, near Santarem, Para, Brazil.
© WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
WWF’s work
WWF's approach to species is linked to the ecoregional conservation programmes, including protection of key habitats and biological processes relevant for species survival. Furthermore, WWF tries to reduce the threat posed by the illegal traffic of species such as mahogany and other fine woods.

In Colombia, WWF helped in the development process of the National Marine Turtle Conservation Strategy, launched by the government in January 2003. Building on the national strategy, WWF is initiating a proposal to safeguard important nesting beaches and wetland feeding areas of marine turtles in the Chocó and Urabá region.

As part of its trans-Pacific marine turtle conservation efforts, WWF has been involved in training for marine turtle conservation and management in the Colombian Pacific, and will support a major by-catch reduction initiative. Additionally, WWF's ecoregional programme for the Colombian and Ecuadorian Pacific includes planning that takes into account important turtle nesting sites.

On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, WWF is also providing support to a community- based leatherback turtle conservation project in the Urabá Golf. This project includes environmental education in the conservation status of marine turtles and support to protected areas.

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