Record Details

Townsend, Josiah H
Characterizing the Chortís Block Biogeographic Province: geological, physiographic, and ecological associations and herpetofaunal diversity
Mesoamerican Herpetology
Journal Article
Ctenosaura bakeri;Ctenosaura flavidorsalis;Ctenosaura melanosterna;Ctenosaura oedirhina;Ctenosaura praeocularis;Ctenosaura quinquecarinata;Ctenosaura similis;Iguana iguana
The geological history of Central America is remarkably complex, as the region has served as the biological dispersal route between North and South America, and also has been the site of extensive in situ evolution. Nuclear Central America is recognized as a region of high biodiversity, and the eastern portion of Nuclear Central America (the Chortís Block) largely has been overlooked as a biodiversity hotspot. In this paper, I present a characterization of geological, physiographic, and ecological associations to define the Chortís Block Biogeographic Province. The Chortís Block is partitioned into the Caribbean and Pacific Lowlands and the Northern, Central, and Southern cordilleras, which in turn are delimited into 24 distinct highland areas and 14 intermontane valleys. I provide contextualized definitions of ecological formations and identify six lowland-associated habitats, of which four habitats are shared between lowlands and highlands, and 10 habitats are associated with highlands areas. I present a summary of the diversity, distribution, and conservation status of the herpetofauna of the Chortís Block, using a combination of the published literature and results from 19 expeditions to over 60 localities from 2006 to 2014. The Chortís herpetofauna is characterized by a high degree of endemism (38% of all species are endemic) and equally high extinction risk (42% threatened, including 94% of endemic species). Endemism is highest among the salamanders (86%), followed by the lizards (43%), the anurans (38%), and the snakes (23%).