Arizona Mountains forests

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Arizona Mountains forests
Arizona Mountains Forests map.svg
Biome Temperate coniferous forests
Borders Colorado Plateau shrublands, Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert
Bird species208 [1]
Mammal species123 [1]
Area109,100 km2 (42,100 sq mi)
CountryUnited States
States Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
Habitat loss0.307% [1]
Protected73.78% [1]

The Arizona Mountains forests are a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion of the southwest United States with a rich variety of woodland habitats and wildlife.

Ecoregion Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion

An ecoregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than an ecozone. All three of these are either less or greater than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.



This is a landscape of steep mountains and high stony plateaus with rocky outcrops from the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona south to the Mogollon Plateau and eastwards across into southwestern New Mexico. Elevations range from 1,370 to 3,000 meters (4,490 to 9,840 ft), with some peaks higher than that. Specific areas include the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. [2]

Kaibab Plateau

The Kaibab Plateau is located in northern Arizona in the United States. The plateau, part of the larger Colorado Plateau, is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon and reaches an elevation of 9200 feet above sea level. The plateau is divided between Kaibab National Forest and the "North Rim" portion of Grand Canyon National Park. Tributary canyons of the Colorado River form the plateau's eastern and western boundaries, and tiers of uplifted cliffs define the northern edges of the land form. Winter snowfall is often heavy, and this creates opportunities for backcountry Nordic skiing and snow camping.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

The Mogollon Plateau or Mogollon Mesa is a pine-covered southern plateau section of the larger Colorado Plateau in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico, United States. The southern boundary of the plateau is the Mogollon Rim. The Mogollon Plateau is 7,000–8,000 feet (2,100–2,400 m) high. The plateau lends its name to the Mogollon tribe, part of the Cochise-Mogollan peoples who inhabited this and nearby areas from 5,000 to 2,500 years ago. Their descendants are believed to include the Anasazi.


Trees of the area include some of the spruce, fir and quaking aspen ( Populus tremuloides ) trees typical of the Rocky Mountains further north along with typically Mexican trees such as Chihuahua pine (Pinus leiophylla), Apache pine ( Pinus engelmannii ) and the Arizona pine of the Gila Wilderness and elsewhere. The lower elevations have a mixed pinyon pine-juniper-oak woodland. Finally the rivers and their banks are important habitats for specific wildlife and fish.

Spruce genus of plants

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 m tall when mature, and have whorled branches and conical form. They can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles (leaves), which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures on the branches, and by their cones, which hang downwards after they are pollinated. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs. In other similar genera, the branches are fairly smooth.

Fir genus of plants

Firs (Abies) are a genus of 48–56 species of evergreen coniferous trees in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range. Firs are most closely related to the genus Cedrus (cedar). Douglas firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.

<i>Populus tremuloides</i> species of deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America

Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America, one of several species referred to by the common name aspen. It is commonly called quaking aspen, trembling aspen, American aspen, Quakies, mountain or golden aspen, trembling poplar, white poplar, popple, as well as others. The trees have tall trunks, up to 25 meters tall, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in autumn. The species often propagates through its roots to form large clonal groves originating from a shared root system. These roots are not rhizomes, as new growth develops from adventitious buds on the parent root system.


Wildlife found here include the miniature northern saw-whet owl and many birds and reptiles that are common in Mexico further south, such as the secretive Montezuma quail. The caves of the Guadalupe Mountains are a specific habitat for beetles, centipedes and other invertebrates.

Northern saw-whet owl species of bird

The northern saw-whet owl is a small owl native to North America. Saw-whet owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America. They can be found in dense thickets or conifers, often at eye level, although they can be found around 20 feet up. Saw-whets are often in danger of being preyed upon by larger owls and raptors. Saw-whet owls are also migratory birds without any strict pattern.

Montezuma quail species of bird

The Montezuma quail is a stubby, secretive New World quail of Mexico and some nearby parts of the United States. It is also known as Mearns's quail, the harlequin quail, and the fool quail.

Guadalupe Mountains Mountain range in the US states of Texas and New Mexico

The Guadalupe Mountains are a mountain range located in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The range includes the highest summit in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, 8,751 ft (2,667 m), and the "signature peak" of West Texas, El Capitan, both of which are located within Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The Guadalupe Mountains are bordered by the Pecos River valley and Llano Estacado to the east and north, Delaware Mountains to the south, and Sacramento Mountains to the west.

Threats and preservation

This is a fairly stable ecoregion with about 25% of original habitat still intact although vulnerable to logging and overgrazing. Pollution and reduction of rivers are threatening specific plants and animals including Fremont cottonwood ( Populus fremontii ) and Goodding's willow ( Salix gooddingii ), the threatened Gila trout ( Oncorhynchus gilae ), and the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus). Logging continues to remove habitat of the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) and the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentalis).

<i>Populus fremontii</i> species of plant

Populus fremontii, commonly known as Fremont's cottonwood or the Alamo cottonwood, is a cottonwood native to riparian zones of the Southwestern United States and northern through central Mexico. It is one of three species in Populus sect. Aigeiros. The tree was named after 19th century American explorer and pathfinder John C. Frémont.

<i>Salix gooddingii</i> species of plant

Salix gooddingii is a species of willow known by the common name Goodding's willow, or Goodding's black willow. It was named for its collector, Leslie Newton Goodding.

Northern goshawk species of bird

The northern goshawk is a medium-large raptor in the family Accipitridae, which also includes other extant diurnal raptors, such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. As a species in the genus Accipiter, the goshawk is often considered a "true hawk". The scientific name is Latin; Accipiter is "hawk", from accipere, "to grasp", and gentilis is "noble" or "gentle" because in the Middle Ages only the nobility were permitted to fly goshawks for falconry.

Large blocks of remaining habitat include: the Aldo Leopold Wilderness/Gila Wilderness/Blue Range Wilderness and the El Malpais National Monument and Conservation Area in southwestern New Mexico; the Kaibab National Forest, Blue Range Primitive Area, Grand Canyon National Park, the Mazatzal Mountains including Four Peaks, Superstition Mountains, Sycamore Canyon, Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Hellsgate Wilderness, Pinal Mountains in the Tonto National Forest and the Galiuro Mountains in Arizona; the Chuska Mountains on Navajo lands; and the Guadalupe Mountains including the Carlsbad Caverns in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. Much of this is linked and well-protected within national parkland.

Aldo Leopold Wilderness

Aldo Leopold Wilderness, along with Gila Wilderness and Blue Range Wilderness, is part of New Mexico's Gila National Forest. It became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1980 by an act of the United States Congress and has a total of 202,016 acres (81,753 ha). The wilderness area lies along the crest of the Black Range.

Blue Range Wilderness

Blue Range Wilderness, along with Aldo Leopold Wilderness and Gila Wilderness, is part of Gila National Forest. It is located on the western border of New Mexico and west of U.S. Route 180 between Reserve and Glenwood. The wilderness is crossed by the Mogollon Rim. It became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1980.

El Malpais National Monument national monument in the United States

El Malpais National Monument is a National Monument located in western New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. The name El Malpais is from the Spanish term Malpaís, meaning badlands, due to the extremely barren and dramatic volcanic field that covers much of the park's area.

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New England/Acadian forests

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California coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion

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California interior chaparral and woodlands

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Cascade Mountains leeward forests

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Allegheny Highlands forests

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Alberta Mountain forests

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South Central Rockies forests

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Colorado Rockies forests

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Wasatch and Uinta montane forests

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Flora of the Colorado Desert

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J.; Ellison, K. (2010). Molnar, J. L. (ed.). The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. University of California Press. ISBN   978-0-520-26256-0.
  2. "Arizona Mountains forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.