Site description This IBA includes the highest peaks in the center of the Tabasará range (Serranía de Tabasará), the eastern extension of the Talamanca massif. As defined, it consists of the area above 1,200 m around Cerro Santiago (2,121 m), Cerro Sagui (Cerro Ratón) to its northwest (2,520 m), and two peaks (2,292 and 1,945 m), unnamed on available maps, to its northeast. The area extends approximately 50 km along the continental divide above the towns of Las Lajas, Remedios and Tolé, and incorporates the upper watersheds of the Fonseca, San Félix and Tabasará Rivers on the Pacific slope, and the Manantí and Cricamola on the Caribbean. The area is almost exclusively populated by Ngöbe and some Buglé, on both the Pacific and Caribbean slope, and is the center of their Comarca(indigenous reserve). Although a road extends into the area near the Cerro Colorado copper mine above Hato Chamí, access to intact forest is difficult.
Key Biodiversity This IBA includes the core of the presumed range of two globally threatened endemic species with extremely limited distributions. Glow-throated Hummingbird is known only from this locality and from above Santa Fe, Veraguas about 70 km to the east. Yellow-green Finch is known from here, the Fortuna Forest Reserve, and from Santa Fe National Park above Chitra, Veraguas, giving the specie a longitudinal range of about 150 km. Both species were collected at Cerro Santiago by Griscom in 1924, and in recent years have been found regularly in emnant patches of forest and scrub on the road above Hato Chamí above 1,500 m, although usually in small numbers. The site contains 29 of 54 species (54%) of the Costa Rica and Panama Highlands EBA, and 29 of 68 species (43%) of biome N06. However, the area is so poorly known ornithologically that many others likely occur. The Tabasará range is also an area of subspecific endemism. Twelve subspecies are apparently restricted to it, five of which are known from Cerro Santiago. The area remains very poorly known ornithologically. The cloud forest in particular is nearly unknown, having only been surveyed for two days in 1924 (Griscom 1924).
Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna in general is very poorly known. Many of the mammals, reptiles and amphibians recorded at Fortuna Forest Reserve and Santa Fé National Park are likely to occur. Long-tailed Rice Rat (Méndez 1993) and the frogs Gastrotheca nicefori, Hyla graceae and H. rivularis (Myers and Duellman 1982) have been recorded.
Protection status Part of the area has been designated as a reserve by local Ngöbe communities, and ratification by the Comarca government as a whole is under discussion. The Panama Audubon Society is working with the Comarca government in planning a possible reserve.
References Angehr, George R. 2003. Directorio de areas importantes para aves en Panama. Directory of important bird areas in Panama. Panama: Sociedad Audubon de Panama.
Griscom, Ludlow. 1924. Bird hunting among the wild Indians of western Panama. Natural History 24: 509-519.
Méndez, Eustorgio. 1970. Los Principales Mamíferos Silvestres de Panamá. Edición privada/privately printed, Panamá.
Myers, Charles W. & William E. Duellman. 1982. A new species of Hyla from Cerro Colorado, and other tree frog records and geographical notes from western Panama. American Museum Novitates No. 2752: 1-32.
Ridgely, Robert S., and John A. Gwynne. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Panama (Second Edition). Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Wetmore, Alexander. 1965. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 1. Tinamidae (Tinamous) to Rhynchopidae (Skimmers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Wetmore, Alexander. 1968. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 2. Columbidae (Pigeons) to Picidae (Woodpeckers). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Wetmore, Alexander. 1973. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 3. Passeriformes: Dendrocolaptidae (Woodcreepers) to Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Wetmore, Alexander, Roger F. Pasquier, and Storrs L. Olson. 1984. The Birds of the Republic of Panama. Part 4. Passeriformes: Hirundinidae (Swallows) to Fringillidae (Finches). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
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