The wetlands that line a large part (1,567,300 hectares) of the Mexican coast are rich in biological diversity. Mangrove ecosystems in particular are known to be important rearing grounds for marine fishes and provide important habitat for migratory and endemic bird species, reptiles, and small mammals. On the Costa Alegre of the Mexican Pacific, mangroves are the dominant coastal wetland and are home to the largest populations of American crocodiles in Mexico. Previous investigations conducted in Tenacatita Bay have shown the importance of these mangroves as habitat for many different species. The support of Earthwatch volunteers like you makes it possible to collect essential data on the mangroves themselves as well as the species inhabiting them. Similar to other mangrove ecosystems worldwide, both direct (e.g. habitat modification) and indirect (e.g. climate change) human influences are altering the biology and function of these ecosystems. During the last three years of Earthwatch-sponsored research, critical information was collected describing the disturbances caused to La Manzanilla mangrove. La Manzanilla is close to the city and structurally different than the previously studied Tenacatita mangrove, which has permanent surface water connections between the mangrove and the ocean. In the past year, the city of LaManzanilla has initiated a program that would input wastewater discharge into La Manzanilla mangrove. Wastewater contains higher concentrations of nutrients which can alter ecosystem structure and species composition, particularly in systems that do not flush regularly like La Manzanilla mangrove. Though the human influences affecting La Manzanilla are significant, this project works under the belief that it is in the early stages of change and that the time to act is now. It is essential to determine the conditions of the mangrove prior to major alterations, to predict future impacts, and to develop a natural resource management plan for the lower watershed. This project seeks to explore the basic ecological interactions taking place within each mangrove through an ecosystem-based approach and to assess the importance of the mangrove to the local community.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
“This is not a sanitized holiday but a unique adventure…where you can learn new skills, experience exotic wildlife and locations, meet interesting people and get the satisfaction that you are actually doing something positive for conservation.”