Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve

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Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)[1]
View of Laguna de Apoyo from the crater rim
Locationbetween Masaya and Granada
Nearest cityMasaya
Area8,648 acres (35 km2)
Governing bodyMinistry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA)

Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve (Spanish: Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo) is a nature reserve located between the departments of Masaya and Granada in Nicaragua. Lake Apoyo was declared a nature reserve in 1991 and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and comprises one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua.[2] Activities within the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve are regulated by its management plan, approved in 2010, which prohibits the construction of housing within the reserve and use of motorized vehicles on the lake.[3] Geological data suggests that Lake Apoyo originated about 23,000 years ago.[4]

Geography and hydrology[edit]

The Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve protects a volcanic lake, Laguna de Apoyo, and its drainage basin. Laguna de Apoyo is an endorheic lake occupying the caldera of an extinct volcano. The lake is approximately round with the diameter of 6.6 km. It is 175 m deep and occupies an area of 19.44 km2.[5] The lake's drainage basin occupies 38 km2; influx and outflow of underground water plays a major role in the lake's water balance. According to Nicaraguan hydrologists, the lake's level dropped 10 m in some 30 years between 2002 and the mid-2000s.[6]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The reserve houses a tropical dry forest ecosystem, within the reserve the flora consists of over 500 species of plants and tropical dry trees, such as pochote, black rosewood, mahogany, hogplum and guacuco, as well as a large variety and amount of orchids. The fauna consists of mammals such as variegated squirrels, opossums, anteaters, pacas, jaguarundis, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys. As well as a variety of reptiles such as green iguanas and common boas. Over 230 species of birds have been documented in the reserve, oropendolas, falcons, hummingbirds, and 65 species of migratory birds are present. Two-hundred twenty species of butterflies have been documented in the reserve, including 25 first records for Nicaragua[7] and dozens of mollusks.[8] Lake Apoyo also contains a variety of fish species, including six endemic species of cichlids in the genus Amphilophus. One of these species is the arrow cichlid (Amphilophus zaliosus), described in 1976. Three additional species were described in 2008, by the multinational research team directed by the Nicaraguan NGO, FUNDECI/GAIA, which manages a research station on the shore of the lake.[9] The remaining two cichlids were only described in 2010.[10][11] In addition to the endemics, three cichlids (Parachromis managuense, Oreochromis aureus, and O. niloticus) are found in the lake, but these were introduced by humans.[11]


Lake Apoyo attracts tourists with various tourist attractions such as dark sand beaches for swimming, kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, birdwatching, paragliding, boating, and nature. Pumice rocks abound in the lagoon, and are harvested by locals for use in the clothing industry. Recently, petroglyphs and artifacts of indigenous peoples have been found in the reserve.[8] Strict laws limiting human activity exist in the reserve, and several residential construction projects have been stopped and many landowners have been engaged in legal processes by the Ministry of Natural Resources inside the reserve, in accordance with the laws regarding nature reserves in Nicaragua.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Laguna de Apoyo". Protected Planet. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  2. ^ Decreto 42-91, La Gaceta 207, Nicaragua (1991). DECLARACION DE AREAS PROTEGIDAS EN VARIOS CERROS MACIZOS [1] Archived 2011-09-11 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Jeffrey K. McCrary, coordinator. "Plan de Manejo, Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo" (PDF). Ministerio de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, Republica de Nicaragua.
  4. ^ Carl T. Bergstrom; Lee Alan Dugatkin (2012). Evolution. Norton. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-393-92592-0.
  5. ^ Anuario Estadístico 2015 (PDF) (Report) (in Spanish). INIDE. February 2016. p. 6. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  7. ^ van Dort J & McCrary JK (2010):Lepidoptera de la Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo; Rev. Biodiv. AAPP 2:87-92.[2]
  8. ^ a b "Lake Apoyo". ViaNica. Retrieved 2007-08-12.
  9. ^ Stauffer JR, Jr., McCrary JK, & Black KE (2008): Three new species of cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from LakeApoyo, Nicaragua; PROCEEDINGS OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON121(1):117–129 [3]
  10. ^ Geiger MF, McCrary JK, & Stauffer JR, Jr. (2010): Description of two new species of the Midas cichlid complex (Teleostei:Cichlidae) from Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua; PROCEEDINGS OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON123(2):159–173 [4]
  11. ^ a b Dittmann, Roesti, Indermaur, Colombo, Gschwind, Keller, Kovac, Barluenga, Muschick, and Salzburger (2012). Depth-dependent abundance of Midas Cichlid fish (Amphilophus spp.) in two Nicaraguan crater lakes. Hydrobiologia 686(1): 277-285.
  12. ^ "MARENA Ley 217". MARENA. Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 24 April 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 11°55′19″N 86°01′44″W / 11.922°N 86.029°W / 11.922; -86.029