Most of the northern region of the Yucatán Peninsula has been subjected to all kinds of human and natural disturbances since prehistoric times. In the last 20 years the forests of the area have been unusually impacted by one hurricane (Gilberto) and two big forest fires (1989 and 1995). The process of natural succession is already going on and, if no more drastic disturbances occur, the regeneration of the original forest may be successful. However this process may be very slow, since the extensive fires have eliminated many of the seed sources of the large mature trees. What is happening in this area is what already occurred in the state of Yucatan to the west: an arrested succession dominated by fire resistant secondary trees will be the builders of a new vegetation type. Our hypothesis is that, instead of regenerating a semi-evergreen forests of chicozapote and ramon that existed here since the ancient times, a low semi-deciduous selva will prevail.

A series of experiments on biodiversity restoration of recently forest burned areas are underway at the reserve. The main goal of this program is to speed the regeneration process by introducing the keystone arboreal species of the ancient Maya forests early in the succession using the same methods used by the present day Maya to create their forest home gardens. A study on the role of micorhiza in the establishment of the trees is also underway.

Dr. Edith Allen
Dr. Arturo Gómez-Pompa
Dr. Michael F. Allen
Michael Huston
Louis Gross
Donald DeAngelis
Sergio Palacios Mayorga
Kumiko Shimada Miyasaka
Eduardo González Quintero
Gillian Schultz