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
~ 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
~ genetic variety: This applies directly to the variations
in hereditary genes
encountered within the specific individuals of all species
and their particular evolution.
of all the species of birds either live in or migrate
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
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
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.
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”.
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
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
could be such a wonderful teacher if only we saw it
for what it really is” ~ Monachí
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.