Mexico is a mega-diverse country housing more than 23k vascular plant species, 1k bird species, 800 reptile species, 500 mammal species, and 350 amphibian species.
Mexico has been divided into 61 biogeographical formations based on distinct flora and fauna characteristics, and on a recent field trip south of the border, EEB students saw at least 15 of these distinct regions.
The field trip was between January 5th and 15th this year, which is the dry season in most of the biogeographical formations that we visited. The farthest south we reached was the weird and wonderful Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Tropical Dry Forest and Thornscrub in Puebla and Oaxaca, where we hiked among the giant elephant foot yuccas and the hyper diverse columnar cacti. We also visited the northern most remnants of the Tuxtlan Atlantic Tropical Rainforest in southern Veracruz, where we spotted scarlet macaws, toucans, and numerous other bird species, as well as native spider monkeys and Morlette’s crocodiles. On our way back north, we took the coastal highway to meet up with researchers at the Centro de Investigaciones Cientificas de las Huastecas “Aguazarca” (CICHAZ) in Calnali, Hidalgo to check out some remnant cloud forest in the Hidalgan Sierra Madre Oriental Pine-Oak Woodland. One of our last stops of the trip was at Las Pozas, a famous garden in the subtropical rainforest of San Luis Potosi, with natural waterfalls intermingled with extravagant surrealist sculptures.
On this trip students experienced field biogeography, discussed the history and geography of the biogeographic formations visited, discussed the similarities and differences between biogeographical formations visited, and discussed human impact on different types of biogeographical formations. They also experienced indigenous and mestizo culture and cuisine.
If you are interested in our next Mexico field trip, contact Dr. Lawing.