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Location Guatemala, Izabal
Central coordinates 88o 51.30' West  15o 42.08' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 465,945 ha
Altitude 0 - 1,300m
Year of IBA assessment 2007





Summary Guatemalan Caribbean Slope is an important site for species restricted to the Gulf Caribbean Slope, and for four globally threatened species occurring regularly in the area: Highland Guan, Keel-billed Motmot, Yellow-headed Parrot, and Cerulean Warbler. This IBA is threatened by habitat fragmentation, forest fires, illegal logging, and unsustainable use of forest resources.

Site description Guatemalan Caribbean Slope includes lowland and lower montane habitats, including Lake Izabal and the delta of the Polochic river. The IBA ranges in elevation from sea level to 1300 m, and is bordered by Belize in the north and Honduras in the south.

Key Biodiversity Guatemalan Caribbean Slope is important for biome-restricted species of the Gulf Caribbean Slope (17 species recorded). Four globally threatened species occur regularly in the IBA. The site supports the only breeding population of Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix) in Guatemala (Eisermann 2003). Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra) has been recorded in the cloud forests near the Honduran border (Cerezo & Ramírez 2003, Eisermann et al. 2006), and Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum) has been recorded at several sites (Eisermann 2005, Eisermann & Avendaño 2007). Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea) occurs regularly during migration (Cerezo et al. 2005, Welton et al. 2007).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Highland Guan Penelopina nigra resident  2002  50-249 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula resident  2006  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix resident  2001  60-80 individuals  good  A1  Endangered 
Yucatan Nightjar Antrostomus badius winter  2001  < 50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Campylopterus curvipennis resident  2001  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Not Recognised 
Keel-billed Motmot Electron carinatum resident  2002  < 50 individuals  poor  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Chestnut-colored Woodpecker Celeus castaneus resident  2001  20,000-49,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
White-collared Manakin Manacus candei resident  2001  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Lovely Cotinga Cotinga amabilis resident  2001  < 50 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet Ornithion semiflavum resident  2001  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina resident  2001  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Nightingale-wren Microcerculus philomela resident  2001  1,000-2,499 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea passage  2002  < 50 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius montezuma resident  2001  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas resident  2001  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Green-backed Sparrow Arremonops chloronotus resident  2001  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Shrike-tanager Lanio aurantius resident  2001  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Crimson-collared Tanager Ramphocelus sanguinolentus resident  2001  20,000-49,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Scarlet-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii resident  2001  2,500-9,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 
Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi resident  2001  10,000-19,999 individuals  poor  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bahía de Santo Tomás Zona de Veda Definitiva 1,000 protected area contained by site 0  
Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge 20,760 protected area contained by site 20,760  
Candilejas Private Nature Reserve 74 protected area contained by site 0  
Cástulo Private Nature Reserve 570 protected area contained by site 0  
Cerro San Gil Watershed protection reserve 47,433 protected area contained by site 47,433  
Chocón Machacas Protected Biotope 6,265 protected area contained by site 6,265  
Cuevas del Silvino National Park 8 protected area contained by site 0  
El Higuerito Private Natural Reserve 1,266 protected area contained by site 0  
Las Cuevas Private Nature Reserve 74 protected area contained by site 0  
Las Palmas Private Nature Reserve 112 protected area contained by site 0  
Llano Largo Private Natural Reserve 1,471 protected area contained by site 1,471  
Matriz Chocón Private Nature Reserve 729 protected area contained by site 0  
Montaña Chiclera Regional Park 1,489 protected area contained by site 0  
Punta de Manabique Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 132,900 protected area contained by site 132,900  
Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge 151,878 protected area contained by site 151,878  
Quebrada Azul Private Nature Reserve 671 protected area contained by site 0  
Quebrada Seca Private Nature Reserve 474 protected area contained by site 0  
Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 21,227 protected area contained by site 0  
Reserva de Usos Múltiples Río Sarstún Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 0 protected area contained by site 0  
Río Azul Private Nature Reserve 496 protected area contained by site 0  
Río Bonito Private Nature Reserve 1,080 protected area contained by site 0  
Río Dulce National Park 13,465 protected area contained by site 13,000  
Río Sarstun Multiple Use Area 35,200 protected area contained by site 0  
Santa Elena Private Natural Reserve 136 protected area contained by site 0  
Santa Rosa Private Nature Reserve 675 protected area contained by site 0  
Santuario de las Aves Private Nature Reserve 450 protected area contained by site 0  
Sierra Caral Area de Protecci 20,877 protected area contained by site 20,877  
Sierra de las Minas UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 946,504 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Sierra de Santa Cruz Area de Protecci 44,818 protected area contained by site 44,818  
Tapón Creek Private Nature Reserve 630 protected area contained by site 0  
Zavala Private Nature Reserve 670 protected area contained by site 0  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Abandoned & fallow farmland, disturbed ground; Arable land; Forestry & agro-industrial plantations; Improved pasture land; Other urban & industrial areas; Perennial crops, orchards & groves; Urban parks & gardens  12%
Coastline Estuarine waters; Lagoons; Sand dunes & beaches  1%
Forest Flooded tropical evergreen; Gallery & riparian; Mangrove; Montane broadleaf evergreen; Tropical lowland evergreen  41%
Grassland Second-growth & grazed  15%
Shrubland Second-growth & disturbed scrub  12%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes & pools; Freshwater marshes & swamps; Inland deltas; Riverine floodplains; Rivers; Streams; Water-fringe vegetation  20%

Land ownership State (National Parks and other protected areas), communal, and private.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 15%
fisheries/aquaculture 17%
forestry minor
hunting major
military minor
nature conservation and research 35%
rangeland/pastureland 22%
tourism/recreation minor
urban/industrial/transport 1%
not utilised minor
water management minor

Protection status About 35% of this IBA are legally protected, including two wildlife refuges, a watershed preserve, two national parks, a regional park, a multiple use area, a protected biotope, and 15 private nature reserves (CONAP 2007). Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge, and Rio Sarstun Multiple Use Area have been designated as important wetlands under the Ramsar convention.

Acknowledgements Workshops to identify IBAs were hosted by the Museum of Natural History Jorge Ibarra, in Guatemala City in June 2006, and by Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala in Peten in July 2006. Input of unpublished data and suggestions for the delimitation of the IBA were provided during these workshop by representatives of Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), ProPeten, Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala, Tikal National Park, Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de Animales Silvestres (ARCAS), Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Biotopo del Quetzal, and Centro de Acción Legal – Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS). This first assessment of IBAs in Guatemala was conducted by Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología and BirdLife International in the Americas.

References 

Cerezo, A. & M. Ramírez. 2002. Evaluación de las comunidades de aves de dos zonas núcleo propuestas para el Area de Protección Especial Sierra Santa Cruz. Informe técnico. Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación, Guatemala. (Unpublished report)

Cerezo, A. & M. Ramírez. 2003. Evaluación de la avifauna de dos zonas núcleo propuestas para el área de protección especial Sierra Caral. Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación, Guatemala. (Unpublished report)

Cerezo, A., M. Ramírez & H. Enríquez. 2005. Aves de Cerro San Gil, listado de campo. Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación, Guatemala.

CONAP. 2007. Lista de áreas protegidas inscritas en el SIGAP. Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (CONAP), Guatemala. (Database accessed in June 2007)

Eisermann, K. 2001a. Caracterización de la avifauna del Área de Protección Especial Punta de Manabique, Izabal, Guatemala. Fundación Mario Dary, Guatemala.

Eisermann, K. 2003. Status and conservation of the Yellow-headed Parrot Amazona oratrix "guatemalensis" on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala. Bird Conservation International 13: 359-364.

Eisermann, K. 2005. Noteworthy bird observations in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 125: 3-11.

Eisermann, K. 2006. Evaluation of waterbird populations and their conservation in Guatemala. Final report. Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología, Guatemala. Report to BirdLife International. Online at: www.avesdeguatemala.org/avesacuaticas.htm

Eisermann, K., N. Herrera & O. Komar. 2006. Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra). Pp. 90-95. In D. M. Brooks (Ed.) Conserving Cracids: the most threatened family of birds in the Americas. Miscellaneous Publications of the Houston Museum of Natural Science 6.

Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño. 2007. Lista comentada de las aves de Guatemala - Annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

MAGA. 2006. Mapa de cobertura vegetal y uso de la tierra a escala 1:50,000 de la República de Guatemala, Año 2003 (Incluye 5 cultivos perennes actualizados al año 2005). Memoria técnica y descripción de resultados. Ministerio de Agricultura Ganadería y Alimentación –MAGA– / Unidad de Planificación Geográfica y Gestión de Riesgo –UPGGR–, Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala.

ParksWatch. 2003. Park profile–Guatemala: Chocón Machacas Protected Biotope. ParksWatch Guatemala. Online at: www.parkswatch.org

Pérez, E. S. 1998. Informe final del estudio técnico del área de protección especial Sierra Santa Cruz. Grupo aves. Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Guatemala. (unpublished report)

Pérez Consuegra, S. G., P. H. Kihn, J. E. Morales, N. A. Castillo, F. Ramírez, E. B. Cano, R. A. García, J. E. Ordóñez, M. E. Flores, A. L. Higueros, M. E. Acevedo, C. R. Vásquez, C. L. Burgos, H. H. Enríquez & H. K. Piérola. 2001. Caracterización ecológica de los biotopos Chocón Machacas, Izabal y Cerro Cahuí, Petén. Informe final. Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas. Programa Universitario de Investigación en Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, Dirección General de Investigación. Univ. San Carlos, Guatemala. (unpublished report)

Rodríguez, G. & A. Cerezo. 2001. Evaluación de las comunidades de aves y murciélagos en tres zonas núcleo propuestas para el Área de Protección Especial Río Sarstún. Informe final. Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación, Guatemala. (unpublished report)

Welton, M. J., D. L. Anderson, G. Colorado, E. S. Pérez & T. Beachy 2007. Migration habitat and stopover ecology of Cerulean Warblers and other Nearctic-Neotropical migrant songbirds in Northern Central America: Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico 2007. (Unpublished report)

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Guatemalan Caribbean Slope. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/12/2014

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