Nicaragua Biodiversity


Milk Tree Frog (Trachycephalus venulosus)
Lost Canyon Nature Reserve
Photo: Richard Leonardi

The Central American republics form an isthmus that connects the flora and fauna of South and North America. In the heart of the isthmus, at the center of this bio-bridge is Nicaragua, home to a remarkable biodiversity that makes conservation of its flora and fauna of world importance. Despite representing less than 2% of the planet's landmass, Nicaragua houses more than 6% of earth's biodiversity. Lost Canyon Nature Reserve protects the most threatened of all ecosystems in Nicaragua, tropical dry forest, home to endangered species of flora and fauna like Nicaraguan Rosewood (Dalbergia retusa) and the Nicaraguan Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata).

Lost Canyon Wildlife


Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus)
Lost Canyon Nature Reserve
Photo: Richard Leonardi

Lost Canyon Nature Reserve protects many species of fauna that are endangered or now extinct in the most of Nicaragua's tropical dry forests. Predators like the sleek Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi panamensis), wily Coyote (Canis latrans) and Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) prowl the reserve at night. Large and lovable tropical rodents such as the Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) and Paca (Agouti paca) forage near surface water sources. Other mammals find refuge in the Lost Canyon forest, including squirrels and numerous nocturnal mammals like rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, several species of opossums, bats, skunks and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). There are more than eight species of fish inhabiting the reserve streams with frogs and toads like the White-lipped Whistling Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis). Snakes include Boa Constrictors, the Burrowing Boa (Loxocemus bicolor), Central American Coral Snake (Micrurus nigrocinctus) and various guarder, vine and racer snakes. The reserve protects two species of land turtles, the Painted Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) and Scorpion Mud Turtle (Kinosternon scorpioides). Lost Canyon is home to some of Nicaragua's prettiest lizards, like the Rainbow Ameiva (Ameiva undulata), Seven-striped Whiptail (Cnemidophorus deppei), Common Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) and painfully shy Nicaraguan Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata). Most apparent to visitors of Lost Canyon is the reserve's bird life, with healthy populations of noisy White-fronted Amazon Parrots (Amazona albifrons) and Orange-fronted Parakeets (Aratinga canicularis) raiding fruit trees and Nicaragua's national bird, the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) displaying its pendulum tail feathers with pride. With patience one can detect the angelic presence of an Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) or a Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melancephalus). Always present is the curious Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana), industrious Streaked-backed Oriole (Icterus pectoralis), highly social Rufous-naped Wren (Compylorynchus rufalbus), beautiful and aggressive White-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta Formosa), the White-necked Puffbird (Notharchus macrorhynchus) and rummaging the forest floor the Lesser Ground-Cuckoo (Morococcyx erythropygius).

Lost Canyon Trees


Night Fragrance (Coutarea hexandra)
Lost Canyon Nature Reserve
Photo: Richard Leonardi

The Lost Canyon Nature Reserve protects more than 100 species of trees, some of which are in danger of extinction, such as Laurel Macho (Cordia gerascanthum), Coyote (Platymiscium pinnatum), Tempisque (Syderoxylon capiri) Caoba de Pacifico (Swietenia humilis), Guayacán Real (Guaiacum sanctum), Nicaraguan Rosewood (Dalbergia retusa), Guacuco (Eugenia salamensis) and Guacamaya (Astronium graveolens). At the lowest point of the reserve, in the forest that borders the principle stream, are Lost Canyon's grandest trees, some well over a century old. Old-growth species include Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Almendro del Río (Andira inermis), Pochote (Bombacopsis quinatum), Cenízero (Albizia saman), Jobo (Spondias mombin), Mora (Maclura tinctoria), Areno (Licania arborea), Melero (Thouinidium decandrum), the Nicaraguan national tree Madroño (Calycophyllum candidissimum), Palo de Sangre (Pterocarpus rohrii) and the endangered Granadillo (Dalbergia tucurensis). On the sandy banks of the principle stream, rise young strands of Guarumo (Cercropia spp), Capulín (Muntigia calabura) and Cuajinicuil (Inga vera) trees. In the shade of the bigger trees are some wildlife favorites, like the Uva Montesa (Vitis tiliifolia). In the small flat beneath the eastern wall of the canyon, diverse fruit trees can be found like Níspero (Manikara zapota), Guayaba (Psidium guajava), Zapote (Pourteria sapota), Marañon (Anarcadium occidentale), Cacao (Theobroma cacao), Achiote (Bixa orellana), Aguacate (Persea americana) and Jocote (Spondias purpurea), which are mixed with more common forest species like Guanacaste Blanco (Albizia niopoides), Tigüilote (Cordia dentata), Güiligüiste (Karwinskia calderonii), Guacimo Molenillo (Luehea candida) and Guacimo Ternero (Guazuma ulmifolia). On the opposite canyon flat, leading up to the western ridge of the canyon, are numerous examples of Madero Negro (Gliricidia sepium), Chicharón (Rheedera trinervis), Jícaro (Crescentia alata), Guayabillo (Inga jinicuil), Roble Macuelizo (Tabebuia rosea) and Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum). At elevation on the western ridge trees such as Guapinol (Hymenaea courbanil), the Nicaraguan national flower Sacuanjoche (Plumeria rubra) Chiquirín (Myrospermum frutescens), Quebracho (Cojoba arborea), Carao (Cassia grandis), Cedro Real (Cedrela odorata), Nancite (Byrsonima crassifolia), Jagua (Genipa americana), Jocote de Garrobo (Spondias sp), Ojoche (Brosimum alicastrum), Camajuche (Cochlospermum vitifolium) and Gavilán (Albizia guachepele) mix with previously mentioned species. Further up the western ridge, in the highest reaches of the nature reserve, species like Chaperno (Lonchocarpus minimiflorus), Cortés (Tabebuia chrysanta), Aguja de arra (Xylosma characantha), Escobillo (Phyllostylon brasiliensis), Jiñocuabo (Bursera simaruba), Nacascolo (Caesalpinia coriaria) and Talalate (Gyrocarpus americanus) are more frequent.

Flora & Fauna Lists


Newborn South American Forest Bunnies
(Sylvilagus brasiliensis)
Lost Canyon Nature Reserve
Photo: Richard Leonardi

Lost Canyon Nature Reserve welcomes scientific investigations of its flora and fauna. The compilation of plant and animal lists is always a work in progress. Links below open Excel files with current data.