The Piura mangroves ecoregion is the most southerly of all Pacific Coast mangrove habitats. It is not a well known mangrove area although it faces threats from development including those associated with tourism. All mangrove habitats serve as resource centers for wildlife, mainly visiting from surrounding habitats or as migrating individuals. This is one of the last or first stops depending on migration pathways for many birds. Also as a coastal habitat rising from a desert ecoregion the moist conditions provide refuge from the harsh Sechura Desert ecoregion.
Location and General Description
This small mangrove ecoregion is located where the Piura River enters the Pacific Ocean and creates a small estuary along the coast of Peru. The climate is described as semi-arid and tropical dry but highly variable from one year to the next. Average annual temperature is about 24°C, with a minimum of 18°C and a maximum of 31°C. The annual rainfall is low, averaging about 100 millimeters (mm) or less, but in El Nino years it can be 60 times as high.
Avicennia germinans is the dominant mangrove vegetation that grows in this ecoregion. Stands of Avicennia sp. form narrow fringes along the river and marshes in this ecoregion. This mangrove vegetation is short and may reach 20 centimeters (cm) in diameter. Laguncuria racemosa is also found in this ecoregion. The surrounding habitats do not follow strict bounds as border mixing allows common Sechura Desert species to mix including Parkinsonia aculeata and Alternanthera peruviana while coastal dunes maybe stabilized by Distichlis spicata and Cryptocarpus pyriformis.
This ecoregion is a small part of many larger important areas. For example, it is within the Lomas Formation's site, a named centre of plant diversity designated by The World Wildlife Fund and The World Conservation Union. It is also within the Tumbesian Region, an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) designated by BirdLife International. Two species from this EBA reside in the littoral zone and most likely utilize these mangroves the Cinclodes taczanowskii and Geositta peruviana.
This ecoregion's current state is not well known, although it does fall within a highly used tourist area. The city of Piura is not far from the coast and these mangroves, which is also applying pressures to the ecosystem through water diversion and pollution as well as development and other activities.
Types and Severity of Threats
The diversion of water from the Piura River for human uses such as irrigation is a major threat to the mangrove vegetation. As less water makes it to the end of the river where the mangroves await its arrival, the consequently higher the salinity will remain, eventually making mangrove growth impossible and die off will occur. A delicate balance of saline and freshwater must be upheld by the inflow of the Piura River to this estuary; with low rainfall it is the main source. Cutting of mangrove trees and over use of the area is also a threat.
Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
Classification and linework for all mangrove ecoregions in Latin America and the Caribbean follow the results of a mangrove ecoregion workshop and subsequent report.
Additional Information on this Ecoregion
- For a shorter summary of this entry, see the WWF WildWorld profile of this ecoregion.
- Davis, A.D., V.H. Heywood, O. Herrera-MacBryde, J. Villa-Lobos, and A.C. Hamilton. 1997. Centres of Plant Diversity: A guide and strategy for their conservation. Information Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN: 283170197X
- Echevarria, J., and J. Sarabia. 1993. Mangroves of Peru. In L.D. Lacerda A Technical Report of the project: Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Mangrove Forests in Latin America and Africa Regions. International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, Yokohama, Japan.
- Ecoregional Workshop: A Conservation Assessment of Mangrove Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. 1994. Washington D.C., World Wildlife Fund.
- Olson, D.M., E. Dinerstein, G. Cintrón, and P. Iolster. 1996. A conservation assessment of mangrove ecosystems of Latin America and the Caribbean. Final report for The Ford Foundation. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.
- Spalding, Mark, François Blasco and Colin Field. 1997. World Mangrove Atlas. The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, Okinawa, Japan.
- Stattersfield, Alison J., Michael J. Crosby, Adrian J. Long and David C. Wege. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife International. The Burlington Press, Cambridge, UK. ISBN: 1560985747
- Tomlinson, P.B. 1986. The botany of mangroves. Cambridge University Press. Melbourne, Australia. ISBN: 052146675X
This article has been reviewed and approved by Topic Editors Mark McGinley and C. Michael Hogan.
Disclaimer: This article contains information that was originally published by the World Wildlife Fund. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth have edited its content and added new information. The use of information from the World Wildlife Fund should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.