The Jama-Coaque Reserve is designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, and it is located in the transition zone between two Endemic Bird Areas (the Chocó and the Tumbesian). More information about these designations is provided below.
An Endemic Bird Area (EBA) is an area of land identified by BirdLife International as being important for habitat-based bird conservation because it contains the habitats of restricted-range bird species (those restricted to ranges smaller than 50,000 km2). An EBA is formed where the distributions of two or more such restricted-range species overlap. Using this guideline, 218 EBAs were identified when Birdlife International established their Biodiversity project in 1987. Although EBAs cover less than 5% of the world’s land surface, their biological richness makes them high priorities for ecosystem conservation; it is estimated that EBAs contain about 93% of the world’s restricted-range bird species, as well as supporting many more widespread species. Half the restricted-range species are threatened or near-threatened, with the other half especially vulnerable to the loss or degradation of their habitats, due to the small size of their ranges.
The Jama-Coaque Reserve, and the Pacific Equatorial Forest that it protects, is located at the dynamic transition point between the Tumbesian Endemic Bird Area and the Chocó Endemic Bird Area. The Encyclopedia of Earth states: “The Tumbesian EBA and the Chocó EBA are considered two of the most important and critically threatened in the world. The Tumbesian Region EBA, with 17 threatened bird species confined entirely to it…is considered one of the three EBAs most critically in need of conservation action. The Chocó EBA has a total of 51 endemic bird species, a total second only to the Atlantic Forest Lowlands EBA.”
In its report on the Western Ecuadorian moist forests, the World Wildlife Fund states: “A high number of endemic species that are specific to small areas, particularly in narrow strips and on isolated mountain ridges, help characterize these forests. This ecoregion is part of a bioregion noted for some of the highest avian endemism in the world. In 1993 Dodson and Gentry identified 650 species of birds in the region… It is also unique because it has a high number of endemic plants; about 10,000 plant species have been identified and 2,500 of these are endemic.”
Conservation International reports that this region has the highest diversity of palm trees in the world, and close to 100 species of reptiles have been reported.
An Important Bird Area (IBA) is an area recognized as being a globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations. The program was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife International. These sites are small enough to be entirely conserved and differ in their character, habitat, or ornithological importance from the surrounding habitat. IBAs are determined by an internationally agreed set of criteria.
The Jama-Coaque Reserve is part of Important Bird Area EC010, established in 2005. TMA is currently working with Ceiba Foundation and Aves y Conservación, the Ecuadorian branch of BirdLife International, to revise and update the data sheet for IBA EC010. In 2012, TMA’s resident biologist Mike Ellis performed a year-long avian survey in the Jama-Coaque Reserve as well as the broader IBA EC010, and reported the following:
In the Jama-Coaque Reserve alone:
- 227 species of birds in total, including 16 A1 species (three endangered, six vulnerable, five near-threatened), and 21 A2 species
IBA EC010 at large:
- 253 species of birds in total, including 17 A1 species (three endangered, eight vulnerable, five near-threatened), and 23 A2 species
“A1” represents species that are globally threatened (i.e., species listed by IUCN as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, or near-threatened)
“A2” represents species that are restricted to Endemic Bird Areas
IBA EC010 has the third most globally-threatened bird species out of all 107 designated “Important Bird Areas” (IBAs) in Ecuador. The only two IBAs in the country with more globally-threatened species are 14 times and 63 times larger, respectively. Ecuador is considered to harbor the highest avian diversity in the world.
The three endangered species in IBA EC010 are:
- Gray-backed Hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis)
- Gray-cheeked Parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera)
- Slaty Becard (Pachyramphus spodiurus)