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Ecol Appl. 2007 Jun;17(4):989-1003.

Land change in the southern Yucatán and Calakmul biosphere reserve: effects on habitat and biodiversity.

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  • 1Conservation Biology Division, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Chetumal, Avenida Centenario km 5.5., Chetumal, Quintana Roo, CP 77014, Mexico.


The southern Yucatán contains the largest expanse of seasonal tropical forests remaining in Mexico, forming an ecocline between the drier north of the peninsula and the humid Petén, Guatemala. The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve resides in the center of this region as part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. The reserve's functions are examined in regard to land changes throughout the region, generated over the last 40 years by increasing settlement and the expansion and intensification of agriculture. These changes are documented from 1987/1988 to 2000, and their implications regarding the capacity of the reserve to protect the ecocline, forest habitats, and butterfly diversity are addressed. The results indicate that the current landscape matrix serves the biotic diversity of the reserve, with several looming caveats involving the loss of humid forests and the interruption of biota flow across the ecocline, and the amount and proximity of older forest patches beyond the reserve. The highly dynamic land cover changes underway in this economic frontier warrant an adaptive management approach that monitors the major changes underway in mature forest types, while the paucity of systematic ecological and environment-development studies is rectified in order to inform policy and practice.

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