Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena is bordered by two other hotspots: Mesoamerica to the north, and the Tropical Andes to the east.
Endemic animal species like the bare-necked umbrellabird and the brightly-colored poison dart frogs are characteristic of the region. The white-winged guan of Southern Ecuador and extreme northern Peru is seriously threatened with extinction.
Species continue to decline due to urbanization, hunting, particularly of large birds and mammals, and deforestation, especially coastal mangrove forests. Ecuador’s coastal forests have been reduced to only 2 percent of their original coverage area.
†Recorded extinctions since 1500. *Categories I-IV afford higher levels of protection.
|Hotspot Original Extent (km²)
|Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km²)
|Endemic Plant Species
|Endemic Threatened Birds
|Endemic Threatened Mammals
|Endemic Threatened Amphibians
|Human Population Density (people/km²)
|Area Protected (km²)
|Area Protected (km²) in Categories I-IV*
Reaching from the most southeastern portion of Mesoamerica to the northwestern corner of South America, the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena Hotspot extends for 1,500 kilometers and encompasses 274,597 km² along the western coastal flank of the Andes mountains. Formerly called the Chocó-Darién-Western Ecuador Hotspot, it has been expanded to include several new areas, notably the Magdalena Valley in northern Colombia.
From the Panama Canal, the hotspot extends south and east into the wet and moist forests of Panama's Darién Province, through the Chocó region of western Colombia and the moist forests along the west coast of Ecuador, and into the dry forests of eastern Ecuador and extreme northwestern Peru. A branch of the hotspot spreads east around the northern extent of the Colombian western and central cordillera, through the dry forests along the Caribbean coast as far as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and south into the Cauca and Magdalena valleys. The rest of the hotspot is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the 1,000-meter elevation contour of the western slope of the Andes Mountains, where the Tropical Andes hotspot begins. In addition to these mainland areas, the island of Malpelo off the coast of Colombia and the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are also included in the hotspot.
The hotspot includes a wide variety of habitats, ranging from mangroves, beaches, rocky shorelines, and coastal wilderness to some of the world's wettest rain forests in the Colombian Chocó. In addition, South America's only remaining coastal dry forests occur in this hotspot. Scattered throughout the relatively flat coastal plain are a number of small mountain systems that have fostered the evolution of "islands" of endemism within the region. In general, the hotspot can be divided into two major phytogeographic regions, the Chocó/Darién wet and moist forests in the north and the Ecuadorian/Peruvian Tumbesian dry forests in the south.