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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


RINCON-PEREZ, Matilde et al. Distribution patterns and vegetation structure in the coastal wetland gradient in the Castaño, Chiapas, Mexico. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2020, vol.68, n.1, pp.242-259. ISSN 0034-7744.


The characteristics of coastal wetlands are the result of hydrogeomorphological interactions between the continent and the ocean, which cause an environmental gradient, hat results in different vegetation types such as mangroves, freshwater marshes, swamp forests and palm swamps.


To characterize the hydroperiod and physicochemical variables of water and soil and their effect on the distribution of vegetation in the Sistema de Humedales El Castaño.


A total of 11 permanent sampling units (UM) were established by defined strata: five in the mangrove, two in swamp forest, two in freshwater marshes and two in the flooded pasture. From May 2016 to October 2017 the vegetation was characterized and the water levels and physicochemical parameters (superficial, interstitial and groundwater) were sampled monthly for: salinity, and pH; and the soil for: bulk density, humidity percentage, and redox potential.


Mangroves are the closest to the sea, have the lowest diversity (H: 1.66) and species richness (14), they are dominated by Laguncularia racemosa and Rhizophora mangle, have the highest values of interstitial and groundwater salinity, (> 10.8 ups), remain flooded for 4 to 12 months per year, and have a redox potential of 14.57 mV. Immediately, inland, there are remnants of the swamp forests (H: 2.18 and 18 species), dominated by Pachira aquatica, with 5 ups interstitial and groundwater salinity, flooded from 0 to 6 months per year, with a redox potential of 119.07 mV. These forests are followed inland by freshwater marshes (H: 1.92 and 16 species), dominated by Typha domingensis with 6.1 ups interstitial and groundwater salinity, flooded for 5 to 8 months per year and a redox potential of 125.9 mV. Finally, furthest inland is the flooded pasture, a modified herbaceous wetland for cattle grazing (H: 3.44 and 50 species) dominated by Paspalum conjugatum, where interstitial and groundwater salinity is less than 0.5 ups, it stays flooded for 5 to 9 months and the redox potential is 151.23 mV.


In each type of vegetation, the structure, composition, and diversity are different, with a high turnover of species that indicates a gradient defined by salinity. The vegetation in the SHC follows the patterns of typical organization of the tropical coastal wetlands, mangroves, swamp forests and herbaceous wetlands, in this case the freshwater marshes and flooded pastures. The factor that define the distribution of the vegetation is the salinity and the gradient that is observed are a function of the hydrological dynamics that depends on the mixing of marine and freshwater.

Keywords : environmental gradients; hydrophytes; tropical peat; modified wetland; hydrology; diversity; connectivity.

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