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Bio-Regions of New Mexico

Eco-region-map courtesy of NATIVE SEED NETWORK New Mexico Eco-regions

(21) Southern Rockies

The Southern Rockies are composed of high elevation, steep rugged mountains. Coniferous forests cover much of the region. However, as in most of the mountains in the western United States, vegetation as well as soil and land use, follows a pattern of elevational banding. The lowest elevations are generally grass or shrub covered and heavily grazed. Low to middle elevations are also grazed and covered by a variety of vegetation types including Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, and juniper oak woodlands. Middle to high elevations are largely covered by coniferous forests and have little grazing activity. The highest elevations have alpine characteristics.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Black Rosy-Finch, Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Resident: Gray Jay, American Dipper, Blue Grouse, Pygmy Nuthatch, Three-toed Woodpecker
Summer: Graces’s Warbler, Virginia’s Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Flammulated Owl

(22) Arizona/New Mexico Plateau

The Arizona/New Mexico Plateau is large transitional region between the semiarid grasslands and low relief tablelands of the Southwestern Tablelands in the east, the drier shrublands and woodland covered higher relief tablelands of the Colorado Plateau in the north, and the lower, hotter, less vegetated Mojave Basin and Range in the west and Chihuahuan Deserts in the south. Higher, more forest covered, mountainous ecoregions border the region on the northeast and southwest. Local relief in the region varies from a few meters on plains and mesa tops to well over 300 meters along tableland side slopes.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire
Resident: Juniper Titmouse, Pinyon Jay, Common Bushtit
Summer: Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Cassin’s Kingbird

(23) Arizona/New Mexico Mountains

The Arizona/New Mexico Mountains are distinguished from neighboring mountainous ecoregions by their lower elevations and an associated vegetation indicative of drier, warmer environments, due also in part to the more southerly location. Chaparral is common on the lower elevations, pinyon-juniper and oak woodlands are found on lower and middle elevations, and the higher elevations are mostly covered with open to dense ponderosa pine forests. Forests of spruce, fir, and Douglas fir, common in the Southern Rockies and the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains, are found only in a few high elevation parts of this region.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Cassin’s Finch, Red-naped Sapsucker
Resident: Bridled Titmouse, Spotted Owl, Montezuma Quail, Olive Warbler
Summer: Painted Redstart, Red-faced Warbler, Magnificent Hummingbird, Greater Pewee,
Zone-tailed Hawk

(24) Chihuahuan Deserts

The Chihuahuan Deserts extends from the Madrean Archipelago in southeastern Arizona to the Edwards Plateau in south-central Texas. This desertic ecoregion comprises broad basins and valleys bordered by sloping alluvial fans and terraces. Isolated mesas and mountains are located in the central and western parts of the region. Vegetative cover is predominantly arid grass and shrubland, except on the higher mountains where oak-juniper woodlands occur.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Sage Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, Sage Thrasher
Resident: Black-throated Sparrow, Verdin, Crissal Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Phainopepla
Summer: Black-chinned Sparrow, Lesser Nighthawk, Scott’s Oriole, Cave Swallow, Elf Owl

(25) Western High Plains

The Western High Plains comprises smooth to slightly irregular plains having a high percentage of cropland, in contrast to the irregular, mostly grassland or grazing land of the Northwestern Great Plains to the north. In addition, this ecoregion is higher and drier than the Central Great Plains to the east. Grama-buffalo grass is the potential natural vegetation in this region as compared to primarily wheatgrass-needlegrass to the north, Trans-Pecos shrub savanna to the south, and taller grasses to the east. The northern boundary of this ecoregion is also the approximate northern limit of winter wheat and sorghum and the southern limit of spring wheat.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Chestnut-collared Larspur, Lark Bunting
Resident: Scaled Quail, Lesser Prairie Chicken
Summer: Cassin’s Sparrow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Chihuahuan Raven

(26) Southwestern Tablelands

The Southwestern Tablelands, unlike most adjacent Great Plains ecological regions, is in cropland. Much of this elevated tableland is subhumid grassland and semiarid grazing land. The potential natural vegetation in this region is grama-buffalo grass with some mesquite-buffalo grass in the southeast and shinnery (midgrass prairie with open low and shrubs) along the Canadian River.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Shrike
Resident: Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Summer: Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Plover

(79) Madrean Archipelago

Also known as the Sky Islands in the United States, the Madrean Archipelago is a region of basins and ranges with medium to high local relief, typically 1,000 to 1,500 meters. Native vegetation in the region is mostly grama-tobosa shrubsteppe in the basins and oak-juniper woodlands on the ranges; at higher elevations ponderosa pine is predominant. The region has ecological significance as both a barrier and bridge between two major cordilleras of North America, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Bird species of interest:
Winter: Baird’s Sparrow, Sprague’s Pipit
Resident: Mexican Jay, Whiskered Screech-Owl, Arizona Woodpecker, Hutton’s Vireo,
Gila Woodpecker
Summer: Broad-billed Hummingbird, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Varied Bunting, Hooded Oriole,
Brown-crested Flycatcher

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