There are more than 5,400 species of mammals to be found inhabiting most of the world’s ecosystems, from the tiny bumblebee bat, which weighs one gram, to the blue whale, which tips the scales at over 100 tonnes.
These might be commonly-known facts, but that Mexico is the number-three country in the world for the diversity of its mammal population is probably not. It is estimated that 564 species of mammals can be found distributed throughout the country, about 13% of the world’s total.
Of those species, 77% weigh less than 5 kg and belong primarily to the orders of rodents, bats and soricomorpha, or shrews and moles. These are among the species most studied. In general, their populations have been diminished as a result of human activities and some are in danger of extinction.
This information comes from an article that appeared in the Mexico Magazine on Diversity, published by the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Researchers at the institute have identified 10 species of rodents and four of bats that are at risk. Nine are indigenous to the country and four are found only on islands.
Some are in danger due to the introduction of non-native animals such as rats and cats into their habitat.
In terms of the distribution of mammals, Oaxaca is the wealthiest state in this respect with 199 species, followed by Jalisco with 177 and Chiapas with 171. Even the Federal District, home to Mexico City, boasts 87 species, a figure that has risen from 63 in 2005.
But not only does Mexico already enjoy a wide diversity of mammals, there are probably more species yet to be discovered, according to the researchers. They estimate there could be as many as 2,000 more.
However, this wealth of diversity is threatened. In addition to the species in danger of extinction, distinct populations are in decline or have disappeared altogether due to illegal hunting and destruction of habitat. Such is the case of the Mexican wolf, the brown bear (now found only in captivity) and the Caribbean monk seal, which is no longer found at all.
Also at risk are the Omiltemi cottontail rabbit, the Central American tapir, three species of monkey found in Yucatán, the vaquita, which is a rare species of porpoise, and the minke whale.
The authors of the magazine article point out the importance of the management, use and conservation of these mammals, a challenge that is continually growing.
Source: Mi Morelia