El Cielo Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)
El Cielo Biosphere Reserve is situated in the southern part of Tamaulipas state, within the Sierra de Cucharas, a mountain range derived from the Sierra Madre. It protects the northernmost extension of tropical and cloud forests and is one of Mexico's most ecologically rich and diverse places.
El Cielo Biosphere Reserve
The El Cielo Biosphere Reserve is situated in the southern part of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas within the Sierra de Cucharas, a mountain range derived from the extensive Sierra Madre range.
It is one of Mexico's most ecologically rich and diverse places. It comprises 14 vegetation types, dominated by the tropical sclerophyllous forest.
The El Cielo Biosphere Reserve protects Mexico's northernmost extension of tropical and cloud forests. It has an area of 144,530 ha (357,100 acres) made up mostly of steep mountains rising from about 200 m (660 ft) to a maximum altitude of more than 2,300 m (7,500 ft).
The conservation of the ecosystems of El Cielo is essential: they host many threatened plant and animal species such as oso negro (Ursus americanus), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), tigrillo (Leopardus wiedii), jaguar (Pantera onca), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), and tayra (Eira barbara).
El Cielo Biosphere Reserve includes various transition ecosystems with characteristic temperate zone elements. The main aim is to protect the vegetation of the montane cloud forest because of its wealth of species and scant extension in the country (1%).
Other vegetation types are the sub-deciduous tropical forest, the pine-oak forests, and the xerophyte shrubland containing threatened or endangered endemic species.
Flora and Fauna
Six species of cats, none abundant, are found in the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve: jaguar, mountain lion, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and bobcat. In addition, a small population of black bears is present.
At least 255 species of birds are resident in the Reserve, and more than 175 migratory species have been recorded. Both birds and mammals are a mixture of temperate and tropical species.
The mammals in the Reserve include Eira barbara, Panthera onca, Leopardus pardalis, Leopardus wiedii, Herpailurus yagouaroundi, Ursus americanus, Bassariscus astutus, Galucomis volans, adocoileus hemionus.
Among the bird species found here are Accipiter striatus, Ara militaris, Asio clamator, Atthis heloisa, Bubo virginianus, Crax rubra, Falco peregrinus, Otus asio, and Oxyura dominica e Icterus graduacauda.
Reptiles include Phrynosoma cornutum, Gopherus berlandieri and species of the Crotalus genus.
The Biosphere Reserve contains the following plant species: Ariocarpus agavoides, Astrophytum myriostigma, Ceratozamia kuesteriana, Zamia fishcheri, Magnolia schiedeana, Encyclia cochleata, Laelia anceps, Laelia speciosa, Lycaste deppei, and Ferocactus hamatacactus.
The local population of 6,208 inhabitants (1999), dispersed in 47 communities, mainly engages in seasonal agriculture such as maize, beans, pumpkin, fruit crops, hunting, and forestry exploitation.