In tropical montane cloud forests (TMCF), clouds cover the vegetation either seasonally or year-round. The cloud cover enables the vegetation to capture needed moisture, a process described as horizontal precipitation. The phenomenon of horizontal precipitation enables the forest to flourish even in the dry season. In TMCFs and surrounding areas, horizontal rain provides up to 50 percent of the water for the hydrologic cycle that humans, animals, and vegetation depend on.
TMCFs are also identified by their high proportion of epiphytes (bromeliads, orchids, lichens, mosses, and filmy ferns) and a corresponding reduction in the number of woody climbers. Endemism and biodiversity in terms of tree species of herbs, shrubs, and epiphytes also can be relatively high considering the comparatively small area in which they grow.
La Hesperia Cloud Forest Reserve, located at latitude of 0º 20´ 38” to 0º 23´ 06” and an altitude between 1100 meters to 2040 meters, is part of two hotspots, which means it has high levels of biodiversity and endemism.
Birds at La Hesperia
As part of the Tropical Andes and Chocó-Darién-Western Ecuador bioregions, La Hesperia is inside the Río Toachi-Chiriboga Important Birds Area (IBA) designated by Bird Life International and Conservation International. It is an ideal place to observe birds because of its geography, ecology, land use, and its range in altitude. Researchers, staff, and volunteers have identified 294 bird species, of which ten are endemic to the region and seven are vulnerable or in danger of extinction. The bird list is not yet complete, but it is believed that there are approximately 320 species. Download the list
Buterflies of La Hesperia
Along with its varied bird population, La Hesperia has considerable invertebrate diversity, which is an indicator of the quality of the forest. At La Hesperia we encounter 63 genera of butterflies Download the list
Mammals at La Hesperia
Research efforts at the station have also uncovered rare, endangered and/or endemic species, including the Andean bear, white-fronted capuchin monkey, puma, ocelot, tayra, jaguarondi, red brocket deer, and collared peccary. There are still more populations of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians within the reserve that have not been catalogued yet. Download the list
Reptiles and amphibians
At La Hesperia Reserve a preliminary inventory showed xx species of reptiles and xx of amphibians key species to study environmental changes due to climate change. Download the list
Vegetation at La Hesperia
In addition to its animals, La Hesperia’s flora varies widely. Because the reserve is part of a cloud forest, a variety of epiphytes grow readily. These epiphytes include orchids, bromelias, mosses, and ferns. Download the list