Southern Texas Plains (ecoregion)

Tamaulipan mezquital
Biome Deserts and xeric shrublands
Bird species 340[1]
Mammal species 90[1]
Area 141,500 km2 (54,600 sq mi)
Countries United States and Mexico
Habitat loss 18.449%[1]
Protected 0.68%[1]

The Tamaulipan mezquital ecoregion, in the deserts and xeric shrublands biome, is located in the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It covers an area of 141,500 km2 (54,600 sq mi),[2] encompassing a portion of the Gulf Coastal Plain in southern Texas, northern Tamaulipas, northeastern Coahuila, and part of Nuevo León.


The Sierra Madre Oriental range to the west separates the Tamaulipan mezquital from the drier Chihuahuan Desert. The Tamaulipan matorral is a transitional ecoregion between the mezquital and the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests to the west and the Veracruz moist forests to the south. The Western Gulf coastal grasslands, known as the Tamaulipan pastizal south of the border, fringe the Gulf of Mexico. The Edwards Plateau savannas lie to the north, and the East Central Texas forests and Texas blackland prairies to the northeast.[2]


Mezquital is characterized by Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and Curly Mesquite Grass (Hilaria belangeri). Prior to disturbance, the most common shrubs were probably Lotebush (Ziziphus obtusifolia) and Whitebrush (Aloysia gratissima).

Parts of this region consisted of open woods of mesquite, with a pronounced understory of grasses. The grasses in this community contained a layer of taller species such as Hooded Windmill Grass (Chloris cucullata), and a layer of shorter species such as Grama (Bouteloua spp.). In some places dense stands of Texas Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) occurred instead of shrubs and grasses.

Brushy species include Huisache (Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana), Desert Hackberry (Celtis pallida), Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens), Whitebrush, Texas Prickly Pear, and Tasajillo (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis).

Mexican Palmettos (Sabal mexicana) and Montezuma Cypresses (Taxodium mucronatum) grow in riparian zones, such as along the Rio Grande.[2]


Mammals of the Tamaulipan mezquital include the Mexican prairie dog (Cynomys mexicanus), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Gulf Coast Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli) Southern Plains Woodrat (Neotoma micropus), and Mexican Spiny Pocket Mouse (Liomys irroratus).[2] Mexican Black Bears (Ursus americanus eremicus) and Cougars inhabit the Sierra de Picachos.[3] The southern part of the ecoregion is an Endemic Bird Area and is home to the Red-crowned Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis), Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno), Altamira Yellowthroat (Geothlypis flavovelata), and Tamaulipas Crow (Corvus imparatus).[2]

See also


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