Floristic composition and soil characteristics of tropical freshwater forested wetlands of Veracruz on the coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico


We studied the influence of geomorphological setting and soil properties on the vegetation structure, composition and diversity of five forested coastal wetlands in Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. These swamps are located on floodplains and in dune depressions. We recorded 109 woody and herbaceous species. The most frequent species were the trees Pachira aquatica, Annona glabra, Diospyros digyna and Ficus insipida subsp. insipida, the lianas Dalbergia brownei and Hippocratea celastroides and the hemi-epiphyte Syngonium podophyllum. The Shannon-H diversity index varied from 2.659 to 3.373, density from 1750 to 2289 stems ha1 and basal area from 32.7 to 76.42 m2 ha1 . The classification analysis defined
two groups: one corresponded to forested wetlands along the floodplain (Apompal, Cienaga, Chica) and the other included Mancha and Salado, in dune depressions. PCA ordination of soil parameters during the rainy season explained 67.0% and during the dry season 69.1% of the total variance. In the rainy season Mancha and Salado samples remain close together because they have lower Mg, Na, K, % Total C and % Total N values. Apompal and Chica samples remain close to each other because of their high levels of % Total C, % Total N, Mg, Na and high soil water content. Cienaga samples are separated from the others because of high values of P, Ca and Eh as well as high water levels. In general, soil parameter ordination
during the dry season showed that redox potential, P, water level and water content decreased in the forested wetlands and Na values increased in Chica. The soil textures identified were clay, sandy clay loam, sandy loam and clay loam; clay texture dominated alluvial processes in the floodplain (e.g., Cienaga). The forested wetlands in the floodplains had similar vegetation and the same happened in the dune depressions but soil characteristics were more variable in both cases. Plant diversity in floodplains tends to be relatively high, and the presence of adjacent tropical forests probably increases its richness, except in cases in which there are stressing factors, such as salinity. The forested wetlands studied showed dominant floristic elements, which extend north into Florida such as A. glabra and Ficus aurea. Other dominant elements such as P. aquatica are also found in Central and South America. The forested wetlands studied
are subjected to continuous deforestation to transform the land into farming or ranching activities, this being a common practice throughout the distribution range of these forests.