Two important highly diverse zones can be highlighted in Ecuador: the Andes Mountain Range and the Galapagos Islands. The former is characterized primarily by diverse ecological zones differentiated by varying altitudinal levels and special microclimates on the slopes of the Andes. These allow for the formation of areas of high levels of flora and fauna diversity. The latter is composed of thirteen large islands with an area greater than ten km2, five medium sized islands with an area between one and ten km2, and 215 small-sized islets, in addition to several rocky outcrops of only a few square meters distributed around the equator line. The islands’ remoteness constitutes one of its key distinguishing features because it has allowed for the evolution of distinctive and unique species. These served as the foundation of Darwin’s studies and the theory of evolution.
Ecuador is home to close 22,000 species of plants, 1,600 species of birds, 4,500 species of butterflies, 405 species of reptiles, 440 species of amphibians, and 382 species of mammals.
The principal threats to biodiversity are related to the country’s economic development system in place since the 1970s. This has caused a reduction in the sustainable management of Nature and an over-industrialization and exploitation of natural resources.