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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve is located in the northwest part of the Yucatán Península, in a coastal strip that includes the limits of the Campeche and Yucatán States. It is limited to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by the El Palmar National Reserve and to the south by Los Petenes National Biosphere Reserve. Ría Celestún encompasses coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and includes important wetlands designated under the Ramsar Wetlands Convention.

The importance of the Biosphere Reserve is partly due to the fact that fresh water from underground aquifers has an outlet in the site, which makes the Biosphere Reserve a unique example of a natural wetland in the area. Ría Celestún is characterized by a great habitat diversity in a relatively small area: it includes several interdependent ecosystems such as a marine shallow continental platform, coastal dunes, mangroves, coastal saline and freshwater lagoons, marshlands, flood meadows, low flood forest and a strip of and low semi deciduous forest, which constitute critical habitats for a great diversity of species. The area includes 304 resident and migratory birds constituted by coastal and marshland birds such as herons (Ardeidae), ducks (Anatidae), and gulls. Ría Celestún and Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserves are both important areas for the flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) that nest, feed and reproduce here and whose population reaches 23,000 birds. Other bird species include the threatened plumbeous kite (Ictinia plumbea) and Brent goose (Branta bernicla), the endangered Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata), and piping plover (Charadrius melodus). The area is also of importance as a nesting site for the endangered sea turtles hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). Threatened or endangered mammal species include the jaguar (Panthera onca), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), and Northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana).

Ría Celestún was decreed a Natural Protected Area in 2000, with the objectives to legally conserve and protect the biological and cultural diversity, and the ecological goods and services of the ecosystems that are represented in the area. Among the priorities of the Biosphere Reserve are the management and regulation of anthropogenic activities and the promotion of a sustainable development of natural resources, that allows to improve the quality of life of the communities and to conserve the biodiversity. Some 6,700 people live in the buffer zone. At the present time, Celestún is the second fishing producer of the State of Yucatán and one of the localities with the greater population increase of the region. Three main productive activities are developed in the Biosphere Reserve, fishery, followed by salt extraction and tourist services.
  Major ecosystem type   Tropical dry or deciduous forest; Wetlands; Mangroves
  Major habitats & land cover types   Coastal dunes with Sesuvium portulacastrum, Suaeda linearis, Ageratum littoralis etc.; Mangroves dominated by manglar of franja (Rhizophora mangle and Laguncularia racemosa) and manglar chaparro; Selva baja inundable with Haematoxylum campechianum, Cameraria latifolia, Metopium brownei etc.; Flooded grasslands characterized by Cladium jamaicensis, Phragmites australis, Eleocharis cellulosa, E. caribaea etc.; Tular with Eleocharis cellulosa, E. caribaea, Rhynchospora cephalotes, R. colorata etc.; Petenes dominated by Manilkara zapota, Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa etc.; Selva Baja Caducifolia with Bursera simaruba, Guaiacum sanctum, Caesalpinia gaumeri etc.; Sub-aqueous vegetation (lagoon) characterized by Chara fibrosa, Batophora oerstedi, Halodule wrightii etc.
  Location   20°59'33.72"N (Northern limit)
20°31’37.74"N (Southern limit)
90°14’23.10"W (Eastern limit)
90°31'13.14"W (Western limit)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   181,482
  Core area(s)   30,291.18
  Buffer zone(s)   51,191.15 (of which marine and estuarine: 22,779)
  Transition area(s) when given   100,000
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -20 to +3
  Year designated   2004
  Administrative authorities   Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP-SEMARNAT)
  Brief description   The core area corresponds to the most inaccessible and better-conserved sites of the Biosphere Reserve that contain representative samples of the biological region. In these zones the only allowed activities are scientific research and environmental education. They are very important sites for the maintenance of the hydrological processes of the area, since the main areas with mangroves and petenes are represented here, as well as the main fresh water contribution for the estuarine system. The buffer zone is aimed to protect the core areas from external impacts. In these zones educative, investigation, recreational and productive activities can be carried out that adhere to the land use plans for the region, but some activities such as extensive cutting and farming activities are regulated in agreement with the criteria for conservation and management of the buffer zone.

Studies on physiochemical characteristics; climatology; hydrology; contamination; decomposition of organic matter; nekton; birds; vegetation; analyses of fishery activities; integrated studies on ecological and socioeconomic aspects; social aspects. Monitoring of wild fauna, marine turtles and flamencos.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, climate, contaminants, hydrology.
  Biodiversity   Birds, ecology, fauna, monitoring/methodologies, reptiles, vegetation studies/plant cover, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Fishery/Fisheries, social/socio-economic aspects.
  Integrated monitoring   Integrated studies/Interdisciplinaty.
  Contact address   Marco Antonio Plata Mada
Calle 18 No.110 Av. Perez Ponce, Col. Itzimná
CP.97100 Mérida, Yucatán
  Telephone   (52) 9999421304
  Fax   (52) 9999205089

Last updated: 08/03/2011

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