Alto Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve

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Alto Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve
Pinacate volcanic field.jpg
Pinacate volcanic field
Mexico relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location in northwest Mexico
Location Gulf of California, Mexico
Nearest town San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora

Puerto Peñasco, Sonora

Mexicali, Baja California
Coordinates 31°36′36″N113°51′36″W / 31.61000°N 113.86000°W / 31.61000; -113.86000 Coordinates: 31°36′36″N113°51′36″W / 31.61000°N 113.86000°W / 31.61000; -113.86000
Area1,652,110 hectares (6,378.8 sq mi)

Alto Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located in the state of Sonora in extreme northwestern Mexico. The 1,652,110 hectares (6,378.8 sq mi) reserve comprises the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto reserve and the Bahia Adair on the Gulf of California border. Geological volcanic formations with craters, dunes, oasis and beaches, and the diversity of plant associations determine its special landscape. The reserve was established in 1993 by the President of Mexico as Reserva de la Biosfera del Alto Golfo de California y Delta del Río Colorado (Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve) [1] and extended in 1995. [2]

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Man and the Biosphere Programme UNESCO conservation programme

Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an intergovernmental scientific programme, launched in 1971 by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

Sonora State of Mexico

Sonora, officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora, is one of 31 states that, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 federal entities of United Mexican States. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border with the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.


As of 1990, 129,516 inhabitants live in the transition and buffer areas in ejidos or communal properties, primarily engaged in agriculture, forestry, mineral extractions and cattle raising located mainly in the coastal areas. One of the most important economic activities in the transition areas is the existence of international enterprises ( maquiladoras ), in San Luis Río Colorado, which engage 5,880 people living in the urban villages. [2]

The reserve is managed by the Municipality of Mexicali in the State of Baja California and the Municipalities of Puerto Peñasco and San Luis Río Colorado in the State of Sonora. [2]

Mexicali Place in Baja California, Mexico

Mexicali is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California and seat of the Municipality of Mexicali. The City of Mexicali has a population of 689,775, according to the 2010 census, while the population of the entire metropolitan area reaches 996,826; making the city and metropolitan area the second most populous in Baja California.

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Puerto Peñasco Town in Sonora, Mexico

Puerto Peñasco is a resort town located in Puerto Peñasco Municipality in the northwest of the Mexican state of Sonora, 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the border with the U.S. state of Arizona. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 62,177 inhabitants. It is located on the northern shores of the Sea of Cortez on the small strip of land that joins the Baja California Peninsula with the rest of Mexico. The area is part of the Altar Desert, one of the driest and hottest areas of the larger Sonoran Desert.


El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar

El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Spanish : Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar), is a biosphere reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site [3] It is in the Sonoran Desert in the eastern part Gran Desierto de Altar, just south of the border with Arizona, United States and north of the city of Puerto Peñasco. A volcanic system, known as Santa Clara is the main part of the landscape, including three peaks; Pinacate, Carnegie and Medio.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Sonoran Desert North American desert

The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which covers large parts of the Southwestern United States in Arizona and California and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is the hottest desert in Mexico. It has an area of 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq mi). The western portion of the United States–Mexico border passes through the Sonoran Desert.

Gran Desierto de Altar

The Gran Desierto de Altar is one of the major sub-ecoregions of the Sonoran Desert, located in the State of Sonora, Northwest Mexico. It includes the only active erg dune region in North America. The desert extends across much of the northern border of the Gulf of California, reaching more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) east to west, and over 50 kilometres (31 mi) north to south. It constitutes the largest continuous wilderness area within the Sonoran Desert.

The Pinacate Peaks (Picos del Pinacate), a group of volcanic peaks and cinder cones, are located in the Reserve north of Puerto Peñasco. The highest peak is Cerro del Pinacate (Santa Clara volcano), with an elevation of 3,904 feet (1,190 m). Pinacate comes from Náhuatl language word pinacatl, for the Pinacate beetle, a stink beetle endemic to the Sonoran Desert.

Pinacate Peaks mountains

The Pinacate Peaks are a group of volcanic peaks and cinder cones located mostly in the Mexican state of Sonora along the international border adjacent to the U.S. state of Arizona, surrounded by the vast sand dune field of the Gran Desierto de Altar, at the desert's southeast.

Cinder cone A steep conical hill of loose pyroclastic fragments around a volcanic vent

A cinder cone is a steep conical hill of loose pyroclastic fragments, such as either volcanic clinkers, cinders, volcanic ash, or cinder that has been built around a volcanic vent. They consist of loose pyroclastic debris formed by explosive eruptions or lava fountains from a single, typically cylindrical, vent. As the gas-charged lava is blown violently into the air, it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as either cinders, clinkers, or scoria around the vent to form a cone that often is symmetrical; with slopes between 30–40°; and a nearly circular ground plan. Most cinder cones have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit.

Pinacate beetle genus of insects

Pinacate beetles, also known as stink beetles, are darkling beetles of the genus Eleodes endemic to the Sonoran Desert and adjacent regions of the U.S. Southwest and Mexico, usually the species Eleodes obscurus. The name is also loosely applied to a number of closely related species of Eleodes, of Western Mexico and the Western United States, which, aside from the wooly darkling beetle, are not easily distinguished from each other. The name pinacate is Mexican Spanish, derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) name for the insect, pinacatl, which translates as "black beetle".

Bahia Adair

Bahia Adair or Adair Bay is a bay at the northern end of the Gulf of California. There are three different habitats: the wetlands, artesian wells, and the salt pans. Endangered animals live in the area, including one endemic species, the desert pupfish.

Desert pupfish rare species of bony fish

The desert pupfish is a rare species of bony fish in the family Cyprinodontidae. It is a small fish, typically less than 7.62 cm (3 in) in length. Males are generally larger than females, and have bright-blue coloration, while females and juveniles are silvery or tan. A notable attribute of the desert pupfish is their ability to survive in environments of extreme salinity, pH, and temperature, and low oxygen content. The desert pupfish mates in a characteristic fashion, wherein compatible males and females will contact each other, form an s-shape, and jerk. Each jerk typically produces a single egg that is fertilized by the male and deposited in his territory. Breeding behavior includes aggressive arena-breeding and more docile consort-pair breeding.

Ecological characteristics

The variety of species in the zone ranges from marine through coastal to land species. Located in the coastal zone are flats, beaches and dune systems, granite sierras and the volcanic shield communities. The land fauna of the reserve is diverse, due to the varied mosaic of its vegetation, ranging from that associated with wetland areas to more inhospitable sites found in the sandy areas of the Great Desert. The Colorado River is the main habitat for the hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus). [2]

This location is one of the few places in North America where the fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) is distributed, in addition to being the western limit for the distribution of the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum). Among the reptiles, the diamondback rattlesnake, the coral snake, the chameleon and the desert tortoise are also found. Birdlife is well represented with at least 80 species of land and aquatic birds, both resident and migratory, characterizing the area with high diversity. [2]

The land mammals are mainly representative of the Sonora and San Bernardina biotic provinces: white-tailed deer, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Big Horn Sheep (Ovis canadensis cremnobates), the Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), the javelina, and the long-nosed bat, among others. Species of vegetation include the saguaro cactus, the strawberry hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii), the thorny bisnaga cactus, the Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata), and the ironwood tree, among many others. The marine species include the porpoise or vaquita (Phocoena sinus), protected by Mexican law as an endangered species, the totoaba and the Yuma clapper rail. [2]


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Tinajas Altas Mountains

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  1. "The Preservation of the Alto Golfo". San Diego Natural History Museum. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory: Alto Golfo de California" . Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. UNESCO. "El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve" . Retrieved June 24, 2013.