The Natural Environment
When most people think of the tropics,
we think of the tropical rain forest. It may come as a surprise that for over 75% of the tropics, annual drought is a way
are many different kinds of tropical habitat that experience dry seasons, with names like tropical dry forest, tropical deciduous
forest, thorn forest, spiny desert, savannah, cerrado, and caatinga. Some of these habitats aren't so unfamiliar after
all: most people have seen images of giraffes, zebras, and elephants congregating around African waterholes during a dry season,
with flat- topped Acacias or baobab trees adding a strange air to the landscape. Savannah scenes like these are often from
the Serengeti, Masai Mara, or Tsavo parks in eastern Africa. These places, which definitely aren't rainforest, are right
on the equator.
Despite being more extensive than rainforests, public awareness of tropical dry habitats is low and they receive
little attention from conservation efforts. Dry areas of the tropics often have higher soil quality than tropical wet forest
areas, making them better for agriculture. As a result, their degradation is far more advanced than that of wet forest. In
addition, their contribution to humanity of such crops as maize -- the most important US crop -- is inestimable.
dry forests make up the majority of tropical forests on earth. Even though there is more dry tropical habitat throughout the
world than rainforest, this habitat is not as well known and tends to be overlooked by conservation efforts.
Dry forest, runs from
southern Sonora to Chiapas in México. This represents the largest extent of tropical dry forest north of the equator.
The ever-changing landscape of the dry forest is a beautiful expression of its adapting nature to environmental changes. While
this forest is well adapted to thrive through high temperatures and long droughts, it also plays a key role in regulating
water runoff and protecting aquatic resources.
a tropical dry forest, the dry season is far longer than the brief period of rainfall. Most of the trees and shrubs found
in this type of habitat are deciduous, losing their leaves at the onset of the extended dry season, and for this reason they
are also known as tropical deciduous forests. In the Americas, vast tracts of tropical dry forest once reached along the Pacific
coast from the tip of Baja California in the north to northern Argentina. Much of this forest has been lost, but some still
remains today in many rugged mountainous areas, national parks, and biosphere reserves.
Las Barras Area Flora
area's flora consists of trees, shrubs, and undergrowth of different heights which form a canopy of lush green growth
after a rain. Some evergreens do live here, but the majority of plant life shed their leaves to retard water loss in the dry
species also feature thick waxy skins, or store moisture in their fleshy leaves and stems. Columnar cacti, agaves and other
succulents mingle with plants and trees normally associated with the thorn forests of mainland Mexico and some tropical species
from Central America.
These forests were also the evolutionary origin of some very unique tree species, such as the Gliricidia sepium,
which is now being used in other parts of the world for rapid reforestation.
The tropical dry forest supports a great diversity of fauna.
Many of the animals have adapted to cope with the hot, arid conditions. The carnivores in this ecosystem include coyotes,
kit and gray foxes, ringtails, raccoons, skunks, badger, and bobcat. The majestic jaguar and cougar, the river otter, the
Mexican anteater and the rare pygmy skunk adorn the ephemeral beauty of dry forests. Because of their geographical and ecological
isolation from other tropical forests, Mexico’s dry forests harbor high levels of endemism: 31% (246 species) of Mexico’s
endemic species are found here.
Las Barras is just north of the Tropic of Cancer, so although it's in
the tropics, temperatures are a little cooler than the other tourist destinations further south.