MAJOR ECOSYSTEMS OF EL EDEN
(10-15 meters canopy)
This is a biologically-rich tropical
forest dominated by trees up to 15 m. in height, with
many different species of shrubs, herbs, climbing plants,
lianas and epiphytes. It is a forest that has been continuously
disturbed since remote times, by humans, hurricanes and
fire. Among the most notable abundant trees we have found
the following: the "chicle tree" (Manilkara
the chacá (Bursera simaruba), tropical
cedar (Cedrela mexicana), and ramón (Brosimum
alicastrum), among many others. This forest is the
habitat of the spider monkey,
jaguar, and many other notable vertebrates. A new wild
species of Vanilla has
been found in this forest and is under study.
(7-10 meters canopy)
This is the most common ecosystem
in the non-flooded soils. It is a second-growth vegetation originated by natural
(hurricanes) or human (agriculture and forest fires) perturbation of the tropical
These are forest of lesser height (up to 12 m.
tall) dominated by the logwood known locally as "tinto" (Haematoxylon
campechianum). This forest is poorer in tree
species than the semideciduous forest. Some notable
tree species are: the black chechem (Metopium
brownei), yaxnique (Vitex gaumeri),
and a wild relative of the coca tree (Erythroxylon
campechianum), among many others. This ecosystem
has been very poorly studied. A possible new variety
of Manilkara zapota that grows
in these swamps is under study.
In this ecosystem
endemic palm species dominate the landscape, such as the “Kuká” (Pseudophoenix
sargentii), the “Nakax” (Coccothrinax
“Xiat” (Chamaedora seifrizii).
The reserve has the largest protected natural savanna
known in Mexico. It is a grassland with many small
scattered trees that becomes flooded 3-4 months
a year. The dominant families are Gramineae and
Cyperaceae. The most notable tree species
are: the “nanche” (Byrsonima
crassifolia), the calabash tree or "jícaro"
(Crescentia cujete), and the tasiste palm
area has many different kinds of wetlands.
The different types result from the length
of time that they are flooded: from a permanently
waterlogged state to inundation for only a few months a year at
the most. The different types are recognized by the dominant vascular
plant species, such as the tular or cattail
marsh dominated by Typha latifolia; the sawgrass marshes
dominated by Cladium jamaiscense and the permanent water
bodies dominated by Nymphaea spp. A possible new genus
of a nitrogen fixing algae has been discovered in the periphyton that develops in this
ecosystem in the rainy season.
These are small or large permanent water bodies that formed crevices
and sinkholes on the rocky limestone outcrops of the region. They
form a complex network of underground crevices and tunnels with occasional
windows to the outside. These ecosystems are almost unknown and a
great diversity of aquatic life exists in them: fish, crustacean,
protozoa, diatoms, algae, etc.