Valdivian Temperate Rainforests and Juan Fernández Islands

Patricio Pliscoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Valdivian temperate rainforests ecoregion in southern Chile and Argentina, together with the Juan Fernandez Islands in the Pacific Ocean, are two geographic zones defined by their evolutionary history and their biota’s isolation. This situation has allowed the development of unique lineages defining unique ecosystems with great importance for conservation. This ecoregion has been included in the most important global conservation priorities (Biodiversity Hotsposts-Global 200), due to its high degree of endemism and level of human-induced degradation. The Valdivian temperate rainforests have the most extensive cold evergreen forests in the southern hemisphere. There is a great diversity in the dominant tree vegetation that is a biogeographic product of climate and topographic heterogeneity. The region includes evergreen species of the genus Nothofagus, coniferous forests with great biogeographic value such as Araucaria araucana and Fitzroya cupressoides, and broad-leaved forests with a great diversity of epiphytes and lianas. These ecosystems are distributed along a latitudinal gradient from 35 to 50 degrees of latitude, where the continuous presence of the Andean mountain range between volcanoes and lakes mark the forest landscape. The Juan Fernandez islands are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 670km off the coast of central Chile at 33° south latitude. They are made up of two islands (Robinson Crusoe and Alejandro Selkirk) and an islet (Santa Clara). These islands of volcanic origin have been isolated from the great continental masses since ancient times, which has allowed a unique evolution of the biota of the islands, with a cold temperate rainforest with connections to the Valdivian ecoregion and with an endemic flora with one of the greatest diversities at a global level. The Juan Fernandez islands are characterized by a flora composed of monotypic families and genera of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species unrelated to current flora related only to taxa identified in the fossil record. The islands have been of great interest to naturalists worldwide, who have visited them since the 19th century. These voyagers reported on its unique biota and the deterioration caused by the impact of anthropogenic activity on the islands. Together with a fragile ecosystem, the endemic flora and fauna on land and sea convert Juan Fernandez Islands into a global conservation priority area.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImperiled
Subtitle of host publicationThe Encyclopedia of Conservation: Volume 1-3
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780128211397
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved


  • Biodiversity hotspots
  • Chile
  • Island’s ecosystems
  • Mediterranean-type ecosystems
  • Temperate rainforest


Dive into the research topics of 'Valdivian Temperate Rainforests and Juan Fernández Islands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this