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Land use/cover, landforms and fragmentation patterns in a tropical dry forest in the southern Pacific region of Mexico

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In spite of widely documented studies of deforestation rates and land use/cover changes in tropical dry forests in Mexico, relatively little is known about fragmentation patterns in such forests. This study defines the spatial distribution of landforms and land use/cover types the lower Papagayo River basin and examines their influence on fragmentation patterns and biological diversity in a tropical dry forest in that southern Pacific region. The land use/cover map was constructed from aerial photographs, Landsat TM imagery (2000) and fieldwork. Landform units were defined based on altitude, slope, lithology and morphology. Landscape fragmentation parameters were obtained using FRAGSTATS (version 3.3) considering the numbers of patches, mean, minimum and maximum patch size, edge density, total edge and connectivity. Results show tropical dry forest to be remnant vegetation (~11 per cent), characterized by isolation and low connectivity. Land use/cover types have different effects on fragmentation patterns. Agriculture and cattle raising produce similar numbers of patches, but with a different mean size; and human settlements have a scattered distribution pattern. The abandonment of rural agricultural livelihoods has favoured the expansion of secondary tropical dry forest characterized by continuity and high connectivity, which suggests a high regeneration potential from land abandonment. It can be concluded that tropical dry forest fragmentation and recovery at regional scales depend on such landscape attributes as lithology, slope, geomorphology and management.

Keywords: Mexico; fragmentation; land use/cover; landforms; regeneration; tropical dry forest

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Instituto Nacional de Ecología, Periférico 5000, Col. Insurgentes Cuicuilco, Delegación Coyoacán, C.P. 04530, México, D. F. 2: Facultad de Filosofía y Letras-Instituto de Geografía. Circuito Exterior S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, D.F., México 3: Departamento de Geografía Física, Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior S/N, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, D.F., México

Publication date: July 1, 2008


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