Central America: Northern Panama

The Bocas del Toro - San Bastimento - San Blas mangroves ecoregion include all mangrove habitat blocks on the Caribbean Sea coasts of Panama and southernmost Costa Rica. Annual rainfall is high with between 2,000 and 4,000 mm; during certain years may be as high as 6,000 mm. The tides in this ecoregion are diurnal with amplitude of 0.5 m but are irregular and greatly influence by meteorological conditions. Rainfall is influence by the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the zone where winds from the northern and southern hemispheres converge covering the ecoregion between May and December, which provides the rainy season. The dry season follows from January to April when northern winds push the ITCZ southward. The dominant mangrove species in this ecoregion are red mangrove (Rhizopora mangle, R. harrisonii, and A. germinans) and white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa, Conocarpus erectus). These mangroves are very important habitat for palustrine and marine birds with a total of 133 species of birds recorded, with 36 of these (nationally or internationally) endangered including Amazona ochrocephala, Cairina moschata, Dendrocygna autumnalis, Harpia harpyja and Pharomachrus mocinno. Of 55 species of mammals recorded, 24 are endangered, including Trichechus manatus, Mazama americana, Hydrochoeris hydrochaeris and Agouti paca. Also there have been seven endangered reptiles species recorded, including Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Dermochelys coriacea, Eretomochelys imbricata, Caiman crocodilus and some 20 amphibian species have been identified. This mangrove ecoregion as well as the species that depend on it are threatened by human activities. Current concerns within the ecoregion focus on the expansion of areas used for cattle ranching, subsistence agriculture, and pig raising. Hunting pressure on small mammal and bird species, many of which are endangered, over-harvesting of fish, lobsters and (illegally) sea turtles for subsistence, and extraction of firewood and timber for boat and house-building also threaten the mangrove habitat of this ecoregion. Enlargement of banana plantations can lead to further pollution of the Negro and Changuinola Rivers. The Río Changuinola and Río Teribe have the greatest hydro-electric potential of any rivers in Panama. Any activities altering the flow of freshwater into the ecoregion will alter the species distribution and could cause total die off of mangrove vegetation. At present there is no tourism, nor are there buildings or infrastructure to support it or research in the wetland.

  • Scientific Code
  • Ecoregion Category
  • Size
    200 square miles
  • Status
  • Habitats


 Location and General Description

Biodiversity Features

Current Status

Types and Severity of Threats

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
Classification and linework for all mangrove ecoregions in Latin America and the Caribbean follow the results of a mangrove ecoregion workshop (1994) and subsequent report (Olson et al. 1996).

Ecoregional Workshop: A Conservation Assessment of Mangrove Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. 1994. World Wildlife Fund, Washington D.C.

Olson, D.M., E. Dinerstein, G. Cintrón, and P. Iolster. 1996. A conservation assessment of mangrove ecosystems of Latin America and the Caribbean. Final report for The Ford Foundation. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.

Prepared by: Christine Burdette and Silvia Tognetti
Reviewed by: In process