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Prosopis glandulosa Torr. A Multipurpose Tree from Arid and Semiarid Lands of Mexico

Rahim Foroughbakhch, Marco Antonio Guzman Lucio, Marco Antonio Alvarado Vazquez

  • Page No:  197 - 201
  • Published online: 28 Nov 2018
  • DOI: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.23910/IJEP/2018.5.4.0275

  • Abstract
  •  rahim.forough@gmail.com

In the present study the multipurpose characterization of the mesquite scrub of the northeast of Mexico was carried out and its productive potential for wood was evaluated. Ten sampling sites were randomly selected based on cartographic material where mesquite was the dominant species. In each one of the sites the minimum area of sampling was determined, for the evaluation of the arboreal and shrub layers. In each area all individuals of the present species were registered, measuring its height and crown projection for the determination of the parameters of density, canopy, frequency and importance value for each species. The physiognomy of the studied sites was dominated by shrub and arboreal plants where the most outstanding vegetation by its height, density and cover was Prosopis glandulosa. The total floral diversity found was 160 taxa belonging to 46 families. The most common species in addition to P. glandulosa were Ruellia nudiflora, Opuntia leptocaulis, Celtis pallida, Opuntia engelmannii, Dyschoriste decumbens, Acacia rigidula, Castela texana, Karwinskia humboldtiana, Ziziphus obtusifolia, Acleisanthes obtusa and Tridens muticus. The accumulated average cover layer was 203.20%, being the shrub layer with greatest vegetative cover with 85.6%. The greatest importance values (IV)in the shrub and arboreal layers for P. glandulosa were 11.12 and 80.31% respectively. In the arboreal layer, P. glandulosa reached the greater percentage in all the parameters, dominating completely the stratum. The wood production average plant-1 and ha-1 was 0.0929 m3 and 38.25 m3 respectively. The estimation of the volume of wood had a strong relationship with the variables of basal diameter and crown projection.

Keywords :   Mesquite, multipurpose tree, wood potential

  • Introduction

    The shrub and woodland communities established in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas, USA, constitutes the most common land use in this area. However, it is being degraded by the exploitation and extraction of its woody components, specially from plants of the genus Prosopis, Helietta, Condalia and some Acacia species. Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite) and P. laevigata are the most important and exploited components in the northeastern woodland of Mexico (Rzedowski, 1988; Pasiecznik et al., 2001).

    Despite specimens of the Prosopis genus are distributed throughout the entire world its principal center of origin has been located in South America, with 42 species. North America counts with 10 species, nine of them native from Mexico. Of these species, P. glandulosa is a species that distributes from the south of USA, particularly Texas State, to the northeast of Mexico (Estrada et al., 2004, 2005), showing so much fast dispersion and expansion characteristics that that it is considered as an invader plant in some rangelands of south USA (Boutton et al., 1998; Acevedo, 2012).

    According to the World Bank (Vender-Plas, 1995), the charcoal production is a practice that hardly would be eradicated because it constitutes an important income to rural families. Therefore, information is needed about mesquite growth variables to record its production capacity on the area and so far its structural change through time (Nyland, 2002). These records can help scientists in the recognition and detection of ecological changes that might be occurring in the plant community (Dieguez et al., 2003, Evans et al., 2013).

    Considering the preceding the present study was made to know the growth characteristics and the population structure of mesquite trees in natural conditions as a contribution to build up the basis for the implementation of a management program of this plant resource with the purpose to guarantee its sustainable exploitation (Clark and Kellner, 2012).

  • Materials and Methods

    2.1.  Study Area

    The study was carried out in northeast of Mexico, which is located between 23° 10’ 27’’ and 27° 46’ 06’’of North latitude and between 98° 26’24’’ and 101° 13’ 55’’ West longitude with a territorial extension of 65,103 km2. The Tropic of Cancer line located in the parallel 23° 27’ N crossing the State in the south.

    The climate of northeastern Mexico is in extreme contrasting. The hot and dry climate predominate and it is associated with semi-arid or semi-dry of the Kopen classification. Most of the year it is very hot, mainly in the plains, since at the mountain regions the altitude attenuates the warm temperatures.

    The mean annual temperature is 22.3 °C with a large difference between winter and summer (-2.3 to 41.1 °C). Hail and frosts usually occur every year even after the beginning of the growing season in March.The long-term mean annual precipitation values vary from 380 mm (arid zones) to 749 mm (semiarid zones) with two peaks in late May and July–September and drought periods in June and winter (Foroughbakhch, 1992; Reid et al., 1987).

    The soils of the region are basically stony of Upper Cretaceous siltstone, these soils are classified as rendzine, vertisoils, feozem and castañozem with low organic matter content and low levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. Underground water is hard but not saline.

    2.2.  Vegetation structure

    Once the sites were located, the minimum area in each one of them was considered with the purpose to obtain a represented vegetal composition employing the technique of the nestedsample (Muller-Dombois and Ellinberg, 1974). The species occurring in each subsample were registered and the minimum area of sampling was determined as the surface where at least 95% of the species of the vegetal community were contained.

    Permanent site sampling along each mesquitecommunity was made at random. The average distance among the sites varied according to the vegetative composition and the heterogeneity degree. 

    In each site all the arboreal and shrub species were identified. Measurements were made of height (m), base diameter (cm), and the crown projection area (m2) which was obtained to determine the two perpendicular diameters of each plant, dominance and frecuency (Avery and Burkhard, 2002). The absolute values for each species were converted to relative values to derive the importance index (Graf and Sayagues, 2000).

    2.3.  Statistical analysis

    Statistical analysis was computed using the SPSS (version 19.0) statistical package. A Duncan test was applied to the mean values of growing and production parameters (Zar, 2006) in order to gather sites with certain similar characteristics. The regression and correlation models were applied to the increment parameters and firewood volume production. Three regression models were used and the selection of the best matching model was made based on the coefficient of determination value (r2).

  • Results and Discussion

    3.1.  Structure, diversity and similarity of the studied communities

    A total diversity of 160 taxa pertaining to 46 families were found. The families with greater number of taxa were Poaceae, Asteraceae and Cactaceae with 19, 18 and 14 taxa respectively, followed by Fabaceae with nine taxa and Euphorbiaceae and Acanthaceae with eight in both cases (Figure 1); the rest of the families mostly presented less than three taxa and 23 of them were represented by a single taxon. The most common species, considering than they were present in all the sampled communities were Ruellia nudiflora, Opuntia leptocaulis, Celtis pallida and Prosopis glandulosa. Other species also common in the study sites are Opuntia engelmannii, Dyschoriste decumbens, Acacia rigidula, Castela texana, Karwinskia humboldtiana, Ziziphus obtusifolia, Acleisanthes obtusa and Tridens muticus.

    It is important to emphasize that during the study the presence of two endangered species were detected in compliance with the Official Mexican Norm NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001 (2002). The species were Echinocereus poselgeri (Cactaceae) that has the status “subject to special protection” and Manfreda longiflora (Agavaceae) with “threatened status”. In both cases, deforestation and extensive cattle ranch are the factors that contribute greater negative impact and inflict loss and deterioration of their habitat.

    In the Figure 2 the participation in relative terms of Prosopis glandulosa as a component of the shrub and arboreal strata of the studied communities is shown.

    P. glandulosa displayed little cover in the herbaceous layer going from its absence in five of the studied sites to a maximum of the 1,02% of the total stratum cover. In the shrub layer its presence is far more noticeable although there are enormous variations between sites (from 38.46 to b 49.73). Finally, in the arboreal layer, P. glandulosa it displayed percentages of cover from 90 to 100% in most of the sites,

    which is reasonable since in several sites it constitutes the only species of this layer. In other sites where richness is low and present greater diversity, the density of other species is low and as aconsequence its cover value is also low (Table 3 and Figure 3).

    3.2.  Frecuency, density and importance value

    In the Table 1, the species with higher frecuency for this stratum can be appreciated. Prosopis glandulosa is the species most frequently occurring in the sites of study and it was present in all of them. Moreover, this species was the only arboreal element was second in rank between sites despite occurring in six of (60%) the localities. On the other hand, Acacia wrightii and Celtis pallida were present in 4 sites (33.33%). The rest of the species presented smaller frequencies and even three species (Acacia farnesiana, Cercidium sp. and Havardia pallens) appeared only in one community. Concerning the relative frequencies of P. glandulosa within communities it reached values superior to 75% in most of the communities and logically in three of them the frequency reached 100%.

    The average number of individuals per hectare in the arboreal stratum was 412.74, with a minimum value of 120 and a maximum of 566.67 (Figure 3). As for the general average density by taxa we found that the greater value was reached by Havardia pallens with 540 individuals ha-1. Nevertheless, this result is not representative of all the communities. On the other hand, P. glandulosa was present in the arboreal stratum in all the communities and showed an average density between them of 261.07 individuals ha-1, reaching as high as 600 individuals ha-1 and a minimum of 120.

    The average vegetation cover of the arboreal stratum was 80.81%, with a maximum of 154.86% and a minimum of 25.75%. As for the individual cover by taxa, we have found that the greatest values of cover in this stratum were obtained for P. glandulosa in all the sites. After P. glandulosa, the species with greater cover in rank were Havardia pallens with 20.51% and Acacia wrightii with 12.39%.

    P. glandulosais the species that presents the greatest IV of the arboreal stratum between all the communities with an average of 80.31; followed by Havardia pallens and Acacia wrightii which showed average values of 20.72 and 14.00 respectively (Table 2). As for the IV to the inside of the arboreal stratum at each community the higher value was obtained by P. glandulosa in all the communities. In three of the communities the IV reached 100%; in other six, IVs higher than 75% were obtained while in the three of the remaining communities IV exceeded the 40%. The species with greater IVs after P. glandulosa were H. pallens, Acacia wrightii  and A. rigidula with IVs of 20.72, 18.62 and 18.06 respectively.

    3.3. Wood volume of Prosopis glandulosa

    One of the most valuable dasometric variables for the estimation of the volume of wood in feet is the basal diameter (bd) of the plant. In Table 3 it is shown the total wood production ha-1 and class-1 of diameter for trunks and branches with diameters greater to 5 cm. It can be noticed there that the greater volume of wood in feet ha-1 with a total 126.47 m3 ha-1, which around 40% comes from trunks and branches with diameters of 10-15 cm. The greater volume comes from trunks with diameters greater than 20 cm. In the

    communities with minor wood in feet production the greater production corresponded to trunks or branches of 5-10 cm, although some of them display important densities but mostly showing small bd.

  • Conclusion

    The average density of individuals was 554.87 specimens ha-1 considering the individuals of all basal diameters present in the shrub and arboreal layers, whereas the average density considering only those individuals with potential advantage for wood exploitation (basal diameters greater than 5 cm) was 382.90 individuals ha-1. The average wood production per plant among all the sites of study was 0.0929 m3, as for the wood production an average of 38,25 m3 ha-1 was found.


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Foroughbakhch R, Lucio MAG, Vazquez MAA. Prosopis glandulosa Torr. A Multipurpose Tree from Arid and Semiarid Lands of Mexico IJEP [Internet]. 28Nov.2018[cited 8Feb.2022];5(1):197-201. Available from: http://www.pphouse.org/ijep-article-details.php?art=178

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