El Refugio De Potosí – A Center for Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Education


Biodiversity of Mexico

Thousands of tourists visit the beaches of Mexico every year, but surprisingly few are aware that Mexico is fourth in the world in its number of different species of plants and animals. Mexico occupies only 1.5% of the planets land mass, but it has more than 10% of the 1.7 million known species.

Of the more than 170 countries of the world, just twelve countries harbor between 60-70% of the total biodiversity of the planet. Mexico takes first place in the number of species of reptiles (640), cacti (30,000) and pines (44). It is second in mammal species (450), fourth in amphibians (330) and vascular plants (specifically, plants with stems, leaves and roots), and tenth in birds (1,000 ). Mexico is home to 10% of the world’s butterfly species. Over sixty five thousand different species of plants and animals have been described in Mexico, but as is common in most underdeveloped countries, the majority of areas in Mexico have not been inventoried, so we can only estimate the numbers. The best current guess is that over 200,000 different species exist in Mexico.

The amazing biodiversity of Mexico stems from its location between North and South America. It was only recently, in geologic terms, that these two continents came in contact with each other. Before that, the two land masses had millions of years to evolve entirely different creatures. With the merging of the land masses, animals could travel between the two continents. Because many animals are adapted only to tropical locations, their migratory range ends in Mexico, thus adding to the number of species present.

The tragic news is that of the known species, Mexico has 242 species in danger of extinction, 435 considered threatened, 244 considered rare and 84 subject to special protection. Mexico has a deforestation rate of 1.2 million acres per year, one of worst in the world.

El Refugio de Potosí

In the coastal, tropical dry forest of the region of Playa Blanca, Guerrero; the climate is tropical sub humid, with an annual average rainfall of 110 cms / 43 inches. There is a prolonged dry season from November through May, followed by a period of rain during the months of June through October. A characteristic feature of this forest is that most of the trees lose their leaves during the dry season. These forests are unusual in that they rarely burn. Some scientists believe that compounds in the leaf litter and wood may inhibit the burning of these forests.

The trees here are typically not as close together as in the tropical rainforests, so more light reaches the forest floor, especially when the deciduous species have dropped their leaves. This availability of sunlight on the forest floor results in dense undergrowth. These forests are known for their high numbers of endemic plant, reptile, mammal and invertebrate species. They also provide refuge for many of the rare and endangered species in Mexico by providing food resources, shelter and cover.

The Pacific coast of Mexico is being intensively exploited by humans. Vast areas, once covered by original vegetation, have been cleared for agricultural fields, cattle farms and development. Other threats to native animals include hunting by villagers in an attempt to eliminate predation of their livestock, hunting for human consumption, and illegal wildlife trade.



Mexico has 242 species in danger of extinction, 435 considered threatened, 244 considered rare and 84 subject to special protection.


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