Petén-Veracruz Moist Forests Habitat
This taxon is found in the Petén-Veracruz moist forests, a broadleaf forest ecoregion in mainly mountainous terrain that extends through most of Belize northward through parts of Guatemala and into southern Mexico. This forested ecoregion covers an area of approximately 149,100 square kilometres. Endemism of this ecoregion is moderate, with amphibian endemism particularly notable, and overall species richness is high; vertebrate taxa found here, for example, total 988 species.
Soils within the Petén-Veracruz moist forests are relatively rich in nutrients compared to other tropical regions; this fact may assist in explaining the early advanced civilisations of the Maya people in this area. There are numerous rivers and lakes within this Neotropical realm ecoregion; in some cases the rivers penetrate limestone karst strata and produce spectacular underwater river caverns. Major southern rivers in the Belize portion of the ecoregion include the Mopan and Macal Rivers; the Macal cuts through dense jungle.
Common tree species in the Maya Mountains area include Cohune Palm (Attalea cohune), Ironwood (Dialium guianense), Bitterwood (Simarouba amara), Quamwood (Schizolobium parahybum), as well as tree ferns such as Cyathea myosuroides and Cyathea multiflora.
The ecoregion boasts numerous reptiles, including one of the world's most venomous snakes, the Fer-de-lance (Bothrups asper); this species is both aggressive and highly lethal, with an unusually vivid sexual dimorphism, the female displaying much greater size than the male. A reptilian endemic to the ecoregion is the Tehuantepec Hooknose Snake (Ficimia variegata), known only to Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Mexico; another ecoregion endemic is the Veracruz Graceful Brown Snake (Halopeltis cuneata). A number of lizards also inhabit the ecoregion, including the rather common lizard of the ecoregion that also occurs in neighbouring dry forests, the Brown Basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus); this olive brown species is noted for the male’s large flaplike crest that is supported by flexible cartilage. A more notable lizard of the Atlantic slopes of the ecoregion is Hernandez’s Helmeted Basilisk (Corytophanes hernandezii); this reddish brown reptile typically sits quietly with its cryptic colouration to avoid predation. The Yucatan Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans) is the only gecko of the region with well developed eyelids.
A number of anuran species are found in the Peten-Veracruz moist forests, including the ecoregion endemic Godman's Treefrog (Tlalocohyla godmani), found only in northeastern and western Querétaro, northeastern Puebla and Veracruz, southward to south-central Veracruz, Mexico. Another ecoregion endemic frog is the Chiapas Dwarf Robber Frog (Craugastor montanus EN), found only in cloud and mixed forests of Cerro Ovando and surroundings, within the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Mexico. Another ecoregion endemic is the Oaxacan Fringe-limbed Treefrog (Ecnomiohyla echinata CR), known only to northern slopes of the Sierra de Juárez, in the vicinity of Vista Hermosa, Oaxaca, Mexico. Further, the Maya Mountains Frog (Lithobates juliani) is endemic to the ecoregion, known only to the Maya Mountains within Belize.
The Black Jumping Salamander (Pseudoeurycea nigra), endemic to the Peten-Veracruz moist forests ecoregion, is found only on the Caribbean versant of the northern highlands region of Chiapas, Mexico. Another salamander endemic to the ecoregion is the Sierra Juarez Moss Salamander (Cryptotriton adelos), found on the Atlantic versant of the Sierra de Juarez, Pena Verde, and at Sierra de Mazateca on the Guelatao-Vista Hermosa transect, north-central Oaxaca, Mexico. The Black-spotted False Salamander (Pseudoeurycea nigromaculata CR) occurs at only two locales in southern Veracruz, Mexico: the peak of Cerro Chicahuaxtla, Cuatlalpan and on Volcán San Martín.
Numerous bird taxa are found in this ecoregion. The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is found broadly in Central America's moist forests and is well represented in the Maya Mountains and further north in the ecoregion. Another broadly distributed tropical bird found in the ecoregion is the Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa), which is one of the largest parrots of the Americas.