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Mexico's Biodiversity and its Conservation

By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide


Mexico ranks among the top 5 most bio diverse countries in the world. Many reasons explain this fact. First of all, because of its latitude, it sits right at the joining of 2 major climatic areas: The Neo-arctic zone and the Neo-tropical zone. Where 2 climatic zones meet, you will always have greater biodiversity. Mexico is surrounded mostly by oceans: Atlantic and Pacific and so, has a multitude of varying coastal environments. It is also blessed with many high mountain ranges which in themselves, again, offer different climatic possibilities as well as arroyos, rivers and lakes. Mexico is also right in the path of many migratory species. It has a complex geological history and an enormous variety of biological conditions.


Biodiversity can be measured 3 different ways:
~ variety of ecosystems: This is the calculation of how many different communities exist in a determined region and includes habitats, species and the ecological processes that occur.
~ variety of species: This method calculates the number of different species or richness of species encountered in an area and takes into consideration its endemic species. *When it is said that a species is endemic, it means it is found only there and nowhere else in the world.
~ genetic variety: This applies directly to the variations in hereditary genes
encountered within the specific individuals of all species and their particular evolution.


10% of all the species of birds either live in or migrate to Mexico.
10% of superior plants are found in Mexico and 40% of those are actually endemic.
33% of all species of marine mammals also either reside in or migrate to Mexican waters.
Mexico ranks # 4 in amphibians and # 1 or close second in reptiles after Australia.
*2 different sources quote different ranks concerning reptiles.


Something puzzling and yet wonderful is right in our back yard. Pine and conifer forests are encountered at altitudes varying between 1200 and 3600 meters above sea level with between 600 and 1200 mm of rain annually. South of Puerto Vallarta, around El Tuito, we can witness an incredible occurrence. Innumerable quantities of pines and oaks cover our mountains at altitudes of about 300 meters! That is way below the normal range. Ecologists don’t completely understand why.


The sub-tropical, semi-deciduous forest, or as we call it jungle, located in the south part of our bay used to be found all along the south coast of Mexico from about Cancun all the way to here. Now, it has been destroyed in all of Mexico but here. It is a unique type of ecosystem.

Of course, aquatic environments go hand in hand with terrestrial environments and are equally if not more important. We are all familiar with “el Estero del Salado”. Mangroves are a particularly important type of ecosystem. It is high on the list of biodiversity and is essential to many species both terrestrial and aquatic. The American Crocodile, long term resident of our Boca Negra area, is in great danger of becoming extinct here. There are only approximately 150 of them in all the bay but most importantly, there are only about 4 females sexually mature enough to produce new generations. Thankfully, The Coastal University, otherwise known as the CUC is dedicated to their protection and investigation. We are lucky to have such an authority on reptiles working for them: Biologist Fabio Cupul and his team, which most avid readers of the Tribune are familiar with.


The uses, values and importance of Mexico’s natural resources are quite varied. Used for food, clothing, housing materials, esthetic and artistic products, education, recreation, sports and employment. The ecological benefits are even greater: decomposition of organic waste, erosion control, nitrogen filtration, elimination of carbon dioxide, production of oxygen and most importantly, sustainability of all species, including humans.


Mexico is taking many steps towards the conservation and protection of its natural resources. It analyzes areas and studies ecosystems in order to determine which areas to protect. It then declares it a “Natural Protected Area” and determines whether it can be accessed or not and if so, how it can be accessed with minimum impact while generating income to support the conservation efforts. This was the case of the Marietas Islands which was declared a Natural Protected Area on the 25th of April, 2005. Mexico also legally protects endangered species and collaborates with U.N. agreements regarding “Biological Diversity” and improvement of the quality of its services such as in the case of “Agenda 21”.


Mexico is aware and takes into consideration major threats to its environment such as: climate change, deforestation, erosion, the use of inadequate technologies, genetic manipulation, illegal commerce of species, proliferation of plagues and natural catastrophes just to name a few.

But all of this doesn’t happen so easily. Mexico has to deal first and foremost with complex social, political, cultural and economical factors. Being on the inside, I see a lot of efforts being directed towards conservation but I also see what is not being done, more often than not, for lack of funds. Believe it or not, Mexico has some of the best laws in the world regarding the conservation and protection of its natural resources. What Mexico doesn’t have just yet, is the sufficient funding required to enforce those already established laws.


Rome wasn’t built overnight. And yes, there are some rather urgent issues everywhere in the world. Do what you can, give it your best shot and hope for the best. Criticism only gets people’s feathers ruffled and brings you no closer to solving the issues. Don’t get me wrong, I can sometimes be one frustrated camper but I see it moving forward, I meet many wonderful young biology students who do the impossible and give all their energy to a cause. I applaud them and truth be told, they deserve a standing ovation! I look forward to seeing what this new generation will accomplish.


“Nature could be such a wonderful teacher if only we saw it for what it really is” ~ Monachí


Natural Treasures invites you to witness the beauty and to lend a hand in the conservation
of our natural environment.

Griffin Page is a nationally certified whale watching guide as well as a very knowledgeable eco-tour guide. She helps in the research and conservation of Humpback whales and Olive Ridley marine turtles by conducting informative tours here in our Bay.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico is  home to some of the finest dining in the WORLD. No kidding, Puerto Vallarta's restaurants have been featured repeatedly in the most prestigeous culinary publications, and for good reason...the fine dining in Puerto Vallarta is WORLD CLASS! Some of Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants aren't on the normal 'tourist track', but that shouldn't keep you from finding them thanks to local residents who share their secrets with you! Puerto Vallarta Mexico's nightlife, filled with clubs, discos, and till-dawn cocktail bars will keep you out till the sun rises again, if you like.

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