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General information about
the Atitlán Nature Reserve

Altitude:        1550 to 2096 m above sea level
Surface area:   117.64 hectares
Temperature:   8 and 25 C°.
Low montane tropical rainforest

Icono del Lago Atitlán - Lienzo Quauhquechollan siglo XVI

The terrain

Because of its latitude and altitude, Lake Atitlán is at the confluence of North America's own Nearctic biodiversity and the Neotropical biodiversity that came up from South America when the Panama land bridge emerged some 13-15 million years ago. Thus, the upper part of the basin is dominated by conifer and oak forests, while near the lake, avocado, banana and cornfields are found.

Of the 117.64 hectares of the Atitlan Nature Reserve, 94.89% is protected natural forest, 3.42% is without forest or with crops; the Visitor Centre, the auditorium, the butterfly house and the playgrounds occupy 1.97 hectares. Most of the land has limitations for any agricultural activity with a broken relief, and slopes ranging from 35% over 55%.

The Reserve is located in an area of very high and high water recharge, which highlights the importance of its conservation.  The soil is forested and belongs to the Western volcanic chain.

The forest

The Reserve has a diversity of forest and shrub species native to the area (26 broadleaved and coniferous species), mainly oaks, holm oaks, cypresses, barretos [Tecoma stans], chali [Calliandra tonduzii Stamdl], cajeto [Belotia mexicana], palos de jiote [Bursera simaruba], coralillo [Citharexylum donnell-smithi] and others of lesser volume.

The forest is mixed, with 80% of the forest species being broad-leaved and the rest being coniferous species. The species with the greatest volume within the forest according to their basal area are: oak (Quercus robur) with 30.78%, holm oak (Quercus xalapensis) with 30.23%, cypress with 35.58%, and barreto with 30.08%.

The forest is located in a cold climate zone in the upper part and in the lower part, on the shores of Lake Atitlán, in a temperate climate. Temperatures range from 08 to 23 degrees Celsius. During the year, there are two main seasons: the rainy season begins approximately in May and ends in October; during this season the relative humidity increases due to the increase in rainfall and cloudiness in the area. The dry season begins approximately in November and ends in April; in this season temperatures increase.



Taking into account that the forest is a refuge area for endemic and migrating animals, in the Reserve there are nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), mountain rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), opossums (tacuasín), raccoons (Procyon lotor ), coati (Nasua narica - pizote), the squirrel (three species), the long-tailed weasel (Neogale frenata), the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and many species of bats. Until the beginning of the century, white-tailed deer were seen in the San Buenaventura valley

Las aves

El avistamiento de aves en la Reserva incluye 256 especies observadas (eBird). Entre ellas se destacan el mosquero cuidapuentes, mosquero negro o viudita de río (Black Phoebe / Sayornis nigricans), el mosquero cabecinegro (Dusky-capped Flycatcher / Myiarchus tuberculifer), la paloma montaraz común (White-tipped dove / Leptotila verreauxi) y el picogordo pechirrojo (Rose-throated grosbeak /Pheucticus ludovicianus). Además es posible encontrar el buho cornudo, el carpintero collarejo, la chorcha de vientre negro, el colibrí cola tijereta, colibrí colipinto, guardabarranca, shara crestada. Las aves además de encontrar alimento en el bosque, esparcen las semillas y polinizan muchas especies vegetales, además de que se alimentan de insectos que pueden ser plagas en el bosque.

La Reserva es una área importante para aves (IBA GT015), designada por BirdLife International.

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