Oct 152010

A previous post noted that Mexico’s very wide range of ecosystems make it one of the six most biodiverse countries on earth. We also looked at the states in Mexico with the greatest biodiversity.

Given its deserts, it is not surprising that Mexico ranks first in the world in cactus species and second in reptile species, behind only Australia. Mexico’s tallest cactus is the Pachycereus pringlei (cardón), a relative of the saguaro. It can grow to a height over 19 meters (60 feet) and 1 meter in diameter (39 inches). The largest reptile is the crocodile which can grow to 5 meters (16 feet) in length and weigh over 400 kilograms (880 pounds).  In recent years, several Mexicans have been killed by crocodile attacks.

Marine biodiversityLargely as a result of Mexico’s diverse tropical and subtropical forests, Mexico ranks fourth in the world with 30,000 different types of flowering plants, compared to only 18,000 in the USA and 12,000 in all of Europe. It also ranks fourth in number of amphibian species, which thrive in Mexico’s tropical rainforests. Mexico is also among the top ten in fern and butterfly species.

The temperate forests also harbor significant biodiversity.  Mexico has more species of pine trees and oak trees than any other country.  However, with deforestation, some of these species may be endangered.

Most people are very surprised to learn that Mexico is among the top three in mammal species, along with Indonesia and Brazil. Some of Mexico’s mammals are majestic like the jaguar, some are rather large like the tapir, but many are small and less impressive like bats, shrews, and rodents. Extinction of endemic Mexican mammals is a serious concern. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed 11 endemic Mexican mammals as “critically endangered”; 27 as “endangered”, and 14 as “vulnerable”.

Chapter 5 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico focuses on Mexico’s ecosystems and biodiversity.  Chapter 30 analyzes environmental issues and trends including current environmental threats and efforts to protect the environment.  Buy your copy today to have a handy reference guide to all major aspects of Mexico’s geography!

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