General information on the
Atitlan Nature Reserve
Altitude: 1550 to 2096 masl
Surface: 117.64 hectares
Temperature: 8 and 25 C°
Low Tropical Montane Rainforest
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 to 15 million years ago. Thus, the upper part of the basin is dominated by coniferous and oak forests, while near the lake there are avocado, banana and cornfields.
Of the 117.64 hectares of the Atitlán Nature Rreserve, 94.89% is protected natural forest, 3.42% is without forest or has crops; the Visitor Center, 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% to 55%.
The reserve is located in an area of very high water recharge, which highlights the importance of its conservation. The soil is forested and belongs to the western volcanic chain.
The reserve has a diversity of forest and shrub species native to the area (26 broadleaf and conifer species), mainly oak, oak, oak, cypress, barretos, chalips, cajetos, palos de jiote, coralillos and others with less volume.
The forest is mixed, with 80% of the forest species being broadleaf species 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%, 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, temperate climate. Temperate climate. Temperatures range from 08 to 23 degrees Celsius. During the year there are two main seasons, the rainy season that begins approximately in May and ends in the months of October; in this season the relative humidity increases due to increased rainfall and cloudiness in the area. The dry season begins approximately in November and ends in April; during this season temperatures increase.
Considering that the forest is a refuge zone for endemic and migratory animals, the Nature Reserve hosts, among others, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), the mountain rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus), the opossum (tacuasin), the raccoon (Procyon lotor), the coati (Nasua narica - pizote), three species of squirrels, the long-tailed weasel (Neogale frenata), the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and many species of bats. Until the beginning of the 21st century, white-tailed deer were seen in the San Buenaventura Valley.
Bird sightings in the Reserve includes 256 species (eBird). Among them are the Black Phoebe, the Dusky-capped Flycatcher, White-tipped dove and the Rose-throated grosbeak. Additional it’s possible to find the great horned owl, the black-bellied woodpecker, the black-bellied chorcha, the scissor-tailed hummingbird, the colipinto hummingbird, the mudskipper, and the crested shara. In addition to finding food in the forest, the birds spread seeds and pollinate many plant species, and controlling insects by feeding on them.