Flora and Fauna
The island of Tenerife has a remarkable ecological diversity in spite of its small surface area, which is a consequence of the special environmental conditions on the island, where its distinct orography modifies the general climatic conditions at a local level, producing a significant variety of microclimates. This vast existence of natural microclimates and, therefore, habitats, means that a rich and diverse flora (1400 species of plants) exists on the island, with well over a hundred entirely endemic to Tenerife. Endemic species include Vipers bugloss, Teide white broom, Teide violet etc. The fauna of the island has many endemic invertebrates and unique reptile, bird and mammal species. The fauna of Tenerife includes some 400 species of fish, 56 birds, five reptiles, two amphibians, 13 land mammals and several thousand invertebrates, along with several species of marine turtles, whales and dolphins. Before the arrival of the aborigines, Tenerife and the Canaries were inhabited by now-extinct endemic animals, e.g. giant lizards (Gallotia goliath), or the giant rat (Canariomys bravoi).
The vegetation of Tenerife can be divided into six major zones that are directly related to altitude and the direction in which they face.
- Lower Xerophylic Zone: 0–700 m. Xerophylic shrubs that are well adapted to long dry spells, intense sun-shine and strong winds. Many endemic species. Spurges, cactus spurge, wax plants, etc.
- Thermophile forest: 200–600 m. Transition zone. Moderate temperatures and rainfall. Area deteriorated by human activity. Many endemic species: Juniper, dragon trees, palm trees, etc.
- Laurel Forest: 500–1000 m. Dense forest of large trees, descendants of the Tertiary Age flora, situated in a zone of frequent rainfall and mists. A wide variety of species with abundant undergrowth of bushes herbaceous plants and ferns. Laurels, holly, ebony, mahogany, etc.
- Wax Myrtle: 1000–1500 m. A dryer vegetation, poorer in species. It replaces the degraded laurel forest. Of great forestry importance. Wax myrtles, tree heath, holly, etc.
- Pine Forest: 800–2000 m. Open pine forest, with thin and unvaried undergrowth. Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis), broom, rock rose, etc.
- High mountain: over 2000 m. Dry climate, intense solar radiation and extreme temperatures. Flora well adapted to the conditions.
Gallotia galloti, a wall lizard species endemic of Tenerife
Canary Islands Dragon tree
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