Biodiversity of Colombia

The biodiversity of Colombia is the variety of indigenous organisms in the country with the second-highest biodiversity in the world, behind Brazil.[1] As of 2016, 56,343 species are registered in Colombia, of which 9,153 are endemic. The country occupies the first position worldwide in number of orchids and birds, second position in plants, amphibians, butterflies and fresh water fish, third place in species of palm trees and reptiles and globally holds the fourth position in biodiversity of mammals.

Colombia is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world
The country hosts two biodiversity hotspots:
1 - Tropical Andes
5 - Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena

The country hosts 59 nationally designated protected areas. At the establishment of the most recent addition, Bahía Portete – Kaurrele National Natural Park, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said "Biodiversity is to Colombia, what oil is for the Arabs".[2][3]

In 2019, according to the Colombian Biodiversity Information System, 62,829 species were registered in the country, 5 of which more than 9,000 are considered endemic species.6 7 8 The country occupies the first position in the world in number of orchid and bird species, second in plants, amphibians, butterflies and freshwater fish, third in palm and reptile species, and fourth in mammalian biodiversity.

According to a report by the WWF, half of Colombia's ecosystems are in a critical state of deterioration or in a state of danger. The organization said that environmental degradation is due to oil extraction, mineral and metal extraction and deforestation. Deteriorating ecosystems are threatening the existence of more than a third of Colombia's plants and 50 percent of its animals.[4]

Since 1998, the Humboldt Institute for Biological Resources has been collecting biodiversity samples. As of 2014, 16,469 samples, representing around 2,530 species of 1,289 genera, and 323 families from Colombian biodiversity have been stored in its archives. [5]


Colombia is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world.[6] The country in northwestern South America contains 311 types of coastal and continental ecosystems.[1] As of 2016, a total of between 56,343 and 56,724 species are registered in the country,[7][8] with 9153 endemic species.[9] Colombia is the country with the most páramos in the world; more than 60% of the Andean ecosystem is found within Colombian territories.[10] Boyacá is the department where 18.3% of the national total area is located.[11] Since December 20, 2014, Colombia hosts 59 protected areas.[12] The biodiversity is highest in the Andean natural region, followed by the Amazon natural region.[13] Since 1998, the Humboldt Institute for Biological Resources in the country has been collecting samples of biodiversity. As of 2014, 16,469 samples, representing around 2530 species from 1289 genera, and 323 families of the Colombian biodiversity have been stored in their archives.[14]

The biodiversity of Colombia is at risk, mainly because of habitat loss, urbanisation, deforestation and overfishing.[15] According to a study of 2001, 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) of forested area is lost every year.[16] Around 1200 species are critically endangered,[17] and 922 species are introduced in Colombia, 22 of which are classified as invasive species in Colombia.[18] Various plans to address the environmental issues are proposed.[19] The National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) is the administrator of protected areas.

Biodiversity in numbersEdit

Class Group Pos Species
Vertebrates Mammals (list, primates) 4
Birds (list, endemic) 1
Reptiles (list, lizards, snakes) 3
Amphibians 2
Marine fish
Freshwater fish (Magdalena River)
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) 1
Marine molluscs
Marine sponges
Marine decapods
Terrestrial molluscs
Flora (endemic) Flowering plants
Flowerless plants
Orchids (endemic) 1
Ferns and relatives
Palm trees 3
Mosses and relatives
Algae Terrestrial algae
Marine algae
Fungi Lichen

To commemorate the biodiversity of Colombia, the coins of the Colombian peso introduced in 2012 feature a species each.[20]

Natural regionsEdit

Colombia is divided into six natural regions.

Caribbean natural regionEdit

Surface area 132,288 km2 (51,077 sq mi)
National parks
Biodiversity aquatic birds 165
amphibians 39
reptiles 129
plants 3151
fish 109

Andean natural regionEdit

Surface area 282,540 km2 (109,090 sq mi)
National parks
Biodiversity aquatic birds 14
amphibians 485
reptiles 220
plants 11,500
fish 197

Orinoquía natural regionEdit

Surface area 285,437 km2 (110,208 sq mi)
National parks La Macarena
Los Picachos
El Tuparro
Biodiversity aquatic birds 92
amphibians 57
reptiles 119
plants 2692
fish 619

Amazon natural regionEdit

Surface area 483,911 km2 (186,839 sq mi)
National parks
Biodiversity aquatic birds 74
amphibians 158
reptiles 195
plants 5300
fish 675

Pacific/Chocó natural regionEdit

Surface area 83,170 km2 (32,110 sq mi)
Departments   Cauca
  Valle del Cauca
National parks Los Katíos
Uramba Bahía Málaga
Biodiversity aquatic birds 142
amphibians 154
reptiles 177
plants 4525
fish 164

Insular natural regionEdit

Surface area 300 km2 (120 sq mi)
Departments   Bolívar
  San Andrés y Providencia
  Valle del Cauca
National parks Corales del Rosario
Old Providence
Biodiversity Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo
fish 170
corals 52
sponges 25
molluscs & crustaceans 100s
Gorgona Island
fish Pseudobatos prahli
Trichomycterus gorgona
Malpelo Island
fish Acanthemblemaria stephensi
Halichoeres malpelo
Old Providence Lagoon
birds 74

Biodiversity hotspotsEdit

Biodiversity hotspots of Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena (left) and Tropical Andes (right)

Colombia hosts two biodiversity hotspots; the Tropical Andes and Tumbes–Chocó–Magdalena. The country is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves with five biosphere reserves:[27]

Name Since First
Image Notes
Cinturón Andino
El Tuparro
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta


The Amazon river dolphin inhabits the southeastern Amazon region of Colombia

Selected faunaEdit

Name Species Image
Caquetá titi Callicebus caquetensis
cotton-top tamarin Saguinus oedipus
mountain tapir Tapirus pinchaque
ornate titi Callicebus ornatus
spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus
white-footed tamarin Saguinus leucopus
American flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Andean condor Vultur gryphus
blue-billed curassow Crax alberti
Colombian chachalaca Ortalis columbiana
Crested caracara Caracara plancus
great egret Ardea alba
green-bearded helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii
indigo-capped hummingbird Amazilia cyanifrons
little blue heron Egretta caerulea
multicoloured tanager Chlorochrysa nitidissima
snowy egret Egretta thula
white-tailed starfrontlet Coeligena phalerata
blue anole Anolis gorgonae
Magdalena River turtle Podocnemis lewyana
rainbow whiptail Cnemidophorus lemniscatus
spectacled caiman Caiman crocodilus
Norops mariarum
Andean poison frog Andinobates opisthomelas
Boettger's Colombian treefrog Dendropsophus columbianus
golden poison frog Phyllobates terribilis
Guajira stubfoot toad Atelopus carrikeri
harlequin poison frog Oophaga histrionica
Lehmann's poison frog Oophaga lehmanni
Pristimantis tayrona
green discus Symphysodon tarzoo
redhump eartheater Geophagus steindachneri
spotted moray Gymnothorax moringa
Malpelo barnacle blenny Acanthemblemaria stephensi
Malpelo wrasse Halichoeres malpelo
Centrochir crocodili
Hoplosternum magdalenae
Labrisomus dendriticus
Sturisoma aureum
Clysonymus longwing Heliconius clysonymus
Dirce beauty Colobura dirce
brown peacock Anartia amathea
eleone white Leptophobia eleone
short-lined kite swallowtail Protographium agesilaus
Rhetus arcius
Mastigoproctus colombianus
Psammodesmus bryophorus
giant ramshorn snail Marisa cornuarietis
Portuguese man o' war Physalia physalis
sea slug

Selected endemic floraEdit

Name Species Image
Cattleya trianae
national flower
wax palm Ceroxylon quindiuense
national tree
lulo Solanum quitoense
national fruit
borojó Alibertia patinoi
Ancipitia anthrax
Comparettia macroplectron
Dracula bella
Dracula diabola
Dracula lotax
Erythroxylum novogranatense
frailejón Espeletia killipii
Heliconia bourgaeana
Hypericum myricariifolium
Ipomoea pes-caprae
Lepanthes ophelma
Lupinus alopecuroides
Masdevallia mejiana
Miconia salicifolia
Monnina salicifolia
Odontoglossum crispum
Opuntia wentiana
Paphinia rugosa
Paphinia seegeri
Passiflora loefgrenii
Pentacalia vernicosa
Phragmipedium schlimii
color-changing Restrepia Restrepia chameleon
copper-coloured Restrepia Restrepia cuprea
Restrepia nittiorhyncha
Restrepia pandurata
Senecio formosoides
Stanhopea platyceras
Stanhopea pozoi
Stanhopea shuttleworthii
Stanhopea stevensonii

Selected endemic fungiEdit

Name Species Image
Cookeina tricholoma
Favolus brasiliensis
Oudemansiella platensis


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b (in Spanish) Qué es la biodiversidad - Humboldt Institute
  2. ^ (in Spanish) Nuevo Parque Nacional Natural de Colombia Bahía Portete - Ministerio de Ambiente, Colombia
  3. ^ (in Spanish) Bahía Portete, regalo de Navidad - El Espectador
  4. ^ Colombia Viva:Informe 2017 - WWF-Colombia
  5. ^ "Instituto Humboldt". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  6. ^ Biodiversity A-Z
  7. ^ (in Spanish) Biodiversidad en Colombia
  8. ^ SiB, 2016, p.1
  9. ^ SiB, 2016, p.3
  10. ^ Five unmissable Colombian páramos begging to be explored
  11. ^ Nieto Escalante et al., 2010, p.75
  12. ^ a b c d e f g (in Spanish) Parques Nacionales de Colombia
  13. ^ a b c d e f g (in Spanish) Estadísticas Biodiversidad Colombia
  14. ^ Arbeláez Cortés et al., 2015, p.163
  15. ^ UNDP, 2014, p.18
  16. ^ Rodríguez Becerra, 2001, p.10
  17. ^ SiB, 2016, p.6
  18. ^ SiB, 2016, p.8
  19. ^ (in Spanish) Plan de acción de biodiversidad Colombia 2016-2030
  20. ^ (in Spanish) Biodiversidad nuestra conexión vital - Banco de la República
  21. ^ Woods, 2008, p.49
  22. ^ Kyne, P.M. (2016). "Pseudobatos prahli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T63158A104002851. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T63158A104002851.en.
  23. ^ Villa-Navarro, F., Mesa-Salazar, L., Sanchez-Duarte, P. & Lasso, C. (2016). "Trichomycterus gorgona". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T64792679A64890625. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T64792679A64890625.en.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ Bessudo, S., Dominici-Arosemena, A., Espinosa, H. & Hastings, P. (2010). "Acanthemblemaria stephensi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010: e.T183968A8208246. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183968A8208246.en.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Allen, G., Edgar, G., Rocha, L. & Min, L. (2010). "Halichoeres malpelo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010: e.T183519A8127170. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183519A8127170.en.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Villegas, Benjamin, and Laura Sesana. 2007. Colombia Natural Parks. Villegas Asociados. Accessed 2017-01-30.
  27. ^ World Biosphere Reserves - Latin America & The Caribbean
  28. ^ Cinturón Andino - World Biosphere Reserve
  29. ^ El Tuparro - World Biosphere Reserve
  30. ^ Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta - World Biosphere Reserve
  31. ^ Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta - World Biosphere Reserve
  32. ^ Sea Flower - World Biosphere Reserve


  • Arbeláez Cortés, Enrique; María Fernanda Torres; Diana López Álvarez; Juan Diego Palacio Mejía; Ángela María Mendoza, and Claudia Alejandra Medina. 2015. Colombian frozen biodiversity - 16 years of the tissue collection of the Humboldt Institute - La biodiversidad congelada de Colombia: 16 años de la colección de tejidos del Instituto Humboldt. Acta Biológica Colombiana, Universidad Nacional de Colombia 20. 163-173.
  • Nieto Escalante, Juan Antonio; Claudia Inés Sepulveda Fajardo; Luis Fernando Sandoval Sáenz; Ricardo Fabian Siachoque Bernal; Jair Olando Fajardo Fajardo; William Alberto Martínez Díaz; Orlando Bustamante Méndez, and Diana Rocio Oviedo Calderón. 2010. Geografía de Colombia - Geography of Colombia, 1-367. Instituto Geográfico Agustín Codazzi.
  • Rodríguez Becerra, Manuel. 2001. La biodiversidad en Colombia, 1-32. Accessed 2017-01-30.
  • SiB, .. 2016. Biodiversidad en cifras, 1-9. Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia. Accessed 2017-01-30.
  • UNDP, .. 2014. V Informe nacional de biodiversidad de Colombia - ante el convenio de diversidad biológica, 1-156. United Nations Development Program. Accessed 2017-01-30.
  • Woods, Sarah. 2008. Colombia. Bradt Travel Guides. Accessed 2017-01-30.

External linksEdit