Motagua Valley thornscrub

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Motagua Valley thornscrub
Biome Deserts and xeric shrublands
Area 2,330 km2 (900 sq mi)
Country Guatemala
Conservation status Critical/Endangered[1]

The Motagua Valley thornscrub is one of the ecoregions that belong to the deserts and xeric shrublands biome, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The ecoregion is located in the Motagua valley in eastern Guatemala, and covers an area of 2330 km2.[1]

The Motagua Valley is one of the driest areas of Central America. It is surrounded by mountains, such as the Sierra de las Minas in the north, reaching heights of up 3000 meters and the Sierra del Merendón in the south, which reaches over 2000 meters. It has a warm climate with temperatures reaching up to 41 °C, and receives less than 500 mm of rainfall per year. This xeric climate contrasts sharply with the cloud forests found higher up in the nearby mountains.

The vegetation consists mainly of thorny species such as cactus of the genus Opuntia, acacias, and thorny bushes of the Fabaceae family. These contrast sharply with the riparian forests in the river valleys with permanent waters.[1]

The Motagua Valley thornscrub forms a habitat for 75 bird species, mainly Columbidae, Tyrannidae, Icteridae and Fringillidae, and it is the only place in Central America where Momotus mexicanus lives.[1] It is also home to a number of threatened lizards, including the Guatemalan Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura palearis), and the Motagua Valley beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti), one of the world's most endangered lizards which is endemic to this ecoregion.

The ecoregion has no protected areas and is severely affected by the expansion of irrigation agriculture, which is the main cause of the rapid pace of its destruction.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Motagua Valley thornscrub". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2014-12-22.