The Fauna of Tenerife
The fauna of Tenerife island has its origins in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean basin. Since its arrival, there have been a significant number of endemic species due to insular isolation and environmental diversity, linked to different ecosystems and bioclimatic levels. In broad terms, two types of fauna can be characterized: land and sea.
Terrestrial fauna is associated with bioclimatic levels, appearing and disappearing in relation to the vegetal formations representative of each one of them. Coastal and coastline areas are rich in invertebrates (mainly insects and spiders), reptiles (such as the black lizard) and to a lesser extent, birds. Among the first ones, we highlight numerous caterpillars, spiders, beetles and earwigs; and among birds, camineros (Berthelot´s Pipit), alcaravanes/curlews (Burhinus Oedicnemus), trumpeters (Trumpeter Finches), seagulls, petrels (Procellariidae) and ospreys. Some of these species can be located at greater heights in terms of local environmental characteristics.
The Monteverde (Evergreen Shrubs), composed of laurel and fayal-brezal (faya trees and heath trees), is the richest space in endemic area, with many invertebrates (worms, snails, spiders or butterflies). The high humidity and abundant availability of organic matter in the form of fallen or dead leaves, decaying logs and numerous small habitats (rock, caves, rocky substrates) holds a huge biological activity. Birds stand in the presence of endemic varieties, such as turqué (Columba Bolli or Bolle´s Pigeon) and rabiche (Columba Junoniae or Laurel Pigeon) pigeons and some bats that live in caves.
Pine forests are dry, very sunny with big temperature contrasts. Although the acidity of the pine litter (“pinocha” or pine needles) does not favor wildlife development, you can find caterpillars, beetles, spiders, butterflies, some of which feed on wood. Finches, woodpeckers, canaries, hawks, falcons owls and barn owls can be found among the birds.
The harsh thermal conditions, of insulation, and moisture of summit floor, determine ecosystems with a rich invertebrate fauna, which takes advantage of the spring flowering as food and rocks protection and vegetation in order to develop. The most representative vertebrates are birds such as blue finches, alcaudones (Lanidae family), kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and crows, and reptiles like the black lizard.
Mammals are underrepresented in the different island ecosystems, appearing only introduced species like rats, hedgehogs and rabbits. In this group, the presence of mouflons in las Cañadas del Teide should be noted, herbivore mammal introduced in the 70's for the encouragement of hunting. Within this group, only a few bats and shrews can be considered endemic.Within terrestrial ecosystems, volcanic caves and tunnels and aquatic ecosystems of gullies and caves, are house to a wealthy fauna, especially invertebrates.
In the marine environment, the Canary Islands have a higher wealth than the one recorded in surfaced areas, depending on light variations, distance to coast or ocean temperature. There are abundant mollusks, insects, medusas or jellyfish and an interesting zooplankton, consisted of tiny crustaceans and mollusks, food base of many species.
In its sea bottom, the island has a huge variety of mollusks species (burgados or sea snails, limpets, mussels); crustaceans (crabs, spidercrabs), echinoderms (sea urchins and starfish) and a great variety of fish, which turn them into attractive sites for its life and color.
Moving away somewhat from the coast, marine fisheries are outstanding. We can find sardines, bogas, chicharros and mackerels, which become the main characters of the island cuisine. In these waters, it is highlighted the presence of several species of turtles, such as the loggerhead, the green or hawksbill, and large mammals such as whales or long finned pilot whales, sperm whales, dolphins or beaked whales, being the southwest of Tenerife an ideal place to see them.