Relation of sites explored, GPS, species, and population richness data.
Guatemala is a mega diversity country because it has several ecosystems and the physiography has a high diversity. However, the local population uses this biodiversity as a natural resource of food mainly. The country had three main drainage slopes for their rivers and aquatic reservoirs with several basins (the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Pacific Sea). In these slopes, crayfish, freshwater prawns, and crabs compose the aquatic biological resources. Several fieldtrips were performed around these slopes in order to identify the species which were used as natural aquatic resources and verify if the diversity supports the food needs of the local population. Our findings were that the country has at least four crayfish species of genus Procambarus spp., those living in the high and middle altitude areas. Five freshwater prawn species with abbreviated larval development of genus Macrobrachium, that is, Macrobrachium cemai were also found. The bigger species of Macrobrachium was also identified on the three slopes as Macrobrachium americanum, Macrobrachium tenellum, Macrobrachium occidentale, and Macrobrachium digueti on the Pacific slope, while on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, Macrobrachium carcinus, Macrobrachium acanthurus, Macrobrachium heterochirus, Macrobrachium olfersii, and Macrobrachium hobbsi were recorded, and therefore, the nonnative species Macrobrachium rosenbergii; with respect to other shrimps, Palaemon pandaliformis, Palaemonetes octaviae, and atyids as Atya scabra and Potimirim glabra were found. According to the freshwater crabs, the Pseudothelphusidae family is the best to represent in comparison with Trichodactylidae where only one population was recorded. Also, we register the uses of these species around the main markets in the country and we found two main ways: the first one is for the bigger species of freshwater prawns and crabs that are offered very expensive in kilogram and are almost offered in restaurants as exclusive dishes. The second one is more for the local consumption, and many families of fishery species that include crayfishes, freshwater prawns with abbreviated larval development, and smaller crabs, and so on, are sometimes found in the markets, with the prices being cheaper and can be bought only by the local people. Our findings show that Guatemala has an enormous potential in the crustaceans decapods for use as natural aquatic resources as protein sources at low cost, especially for the families with low economical level.
- crustacean decapods
- biological resources
Currently, Guatemala has been included as a mega diversity country, because it represents a geographical area where convergence of a lot of different ecosystems involved a change in the physiography, climates, and biomes . Especially, the climate variations in small territory have been playing an important role in the speciation process and specializations and adaptations in diverse populations of plants and animals.
Originally, Guatemala was cataloged as diversity, mainly for the data from terrestrial ecosystems, which has been studied with more emphasis . The marine environment has been few studied; however, the geographical position of the country indicates that there is an important marine diversity in both coasts (Atlantic and Pacific) . Recently, due the interest in the sea resources exploitation, the attention on these resources has increased. In contrast, the aquatic epicontinental resources have scarcity attention as study subject and natural resources, and their potential social and economic benefits are limited. The richness and importance of these small sources of life, important to the subsistence of human populations closers has not evaluated before 2000 year, due to this, it was not possible to give their real value when it has been planning strategies to management and conserve these resources.
In Guatemala, the natural epicontinental aquatic resources begin to acquire an important role in the priorities in the country, mainly due the latent threat of climate change and desertification . The freshwater springs now are considered in the planning and land preservation strategies. As an example of this, Atitlán lake (located in the Sololá Department) worry internationally, due the massive cyanobacteria bloom, due the waste water from human closer to the basin ; this case induces that the scientific research activity on freshwater resources increase to get data from springs and streams as bigger basins as source to know the diversity and establish management plans and uses on this natural resources (fisheries, transport, and water sources to human use).
Due to this interest, the biological resource increases in importance, and one group that has been well represented in these environments are the crustaceans, mainly freshwater shrimps, crayfishes, and crabs, together several species of fishes and mollusk are dominant in these habitats .
In Guatemala, these resources have been exploited economically . However, their importance in production is so low that there are not records and hard data. Several human communities used directly or indirectly the river resources from springs through the coastal connection. As happened with freshwater crabs from family Pseudothelphusidae that is possibly found in the majority of rivers or springs of country on east slope, even the Maya communities from highlands have a fishery and are used for self-consumption . On another slope (Ocean Pacific),
2. Study area
Guatemala as country, has a great biological diversity on the subject of aquatic continental systems. Firstly, as the country is divided into three main slopes, two with drainage on Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea), both very well defined by bigger basins that occupied all center to north of country . The main river to drainage on Gulf of Mexico is the Usumacinta conformed by important rivers as La Pasión, Chixoy, Salinas e Icbolar, all these rivers with origins on highlands flow through lower lands, which permit to have different physical and chemical water conditions, and producing several habitats that bearing an important biological diversity .
On the Caribbean slope, Guatemala has other rivers with conditions completely different as Dulce, Motagua, and Sarstún Rivers, that with another they end on this slope. River Dulce is the main effluent of important aquifers on Sierra de las Minas and Cerro San Gil, as well as highlands from Alta Verapaz, all these rivers produce the Río Polochic that end on Izabal Lake with connection with the sea in the Amatique Bay .
The Motagua River is the longest of the country. However, due to their origin (closed to Guatemala City) and magnitude, induces an excessive carry of solid wastes mainly plastics and nondegradable material that reach the Caribbean Sea and produce marine pollution .
Finally on the Pacific Slope, some main rivers are María Linda, Los Esclavos, La Paz, Achiguate, Coyolate, and Naranjo are located and drainage on the Departments of Escuintla, Rethauleu, Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, Sichitepéquez, San Marcos Quetzaltenango y Sololá  (Figure 1).
3. Materials and methods
Two structured sampling trips were made on the Atlantic Slopes (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean), and in Pacific Slope, different trips were made (Figure 2). In these trips, the crustaceans were collected using nets and hand. At that time, the GPS and physical and chemical water data were recorded using a GPS Garmin and YSI Oxygen Dissolved recording. In each place, the animals were preserved in ethanol to posterior lab identification. Also, in each place, the use and the value that local community has on these animals were recorded. In several markets around the country, make a survey to identify the different crustaceans species that are to sale and know if the local or exotic species have special preferences or major value.
Guatemala has three main basins and several economical decapod species associated to these. The first basin analyzed was Caribbean where it was possible to find the following species
In this basin, the crayfish species of
The second basin is the Gulf of Mexico, the rivers and aquatic reservoirs drainage on the Usumacinta River and the main species are
In contrast on the Pacific slope in Guatemala, the biological aquatic resources are more diverse in small areas because the mountain chain is a barrier to limit their distribution. But in this area, the species of freshwater prawns are
The aquatic biological resources in Guatemala are best represented with freshwater decapods species, but the economical values of these resources are lower in comparison with freshwater fishes and only few species have an important acceptance in their consumption of local population. The species of
|Site||Locality||Department||GPS X||GPS Y||Altitude||Taxa||Population richenss|
|Escobas Cerro San Gil||Las Escobas||Puerto Barrios||−88.6456667||15.6851667||116||High >200|
Low >10 org
|El Boqueron||El Estor||Izabal||−89.2844722||15.5660278||9||Low >10|
|Río Zarco||El Estor||Izabal||−89.2951111||15.5571944||20||High >200|
|Puente Pedernales||El Estor||Izabal||−89.0426944||15.6364722||9|
|Puente la Máquina||El Estor||Izabal||−89.0753333||15.6157222||26|
|Puente Manaco||El Estor||Izabal||−89.1230278||15.5952778||16|
|Balneario caliente||El Estor||Izabal||−89.2085556||15.5908611||35|
|Afluente remanso||Sumache||Izabal||−89.1074444||15.6054444||65||High >100|
|Aldea Manantiales, Esmeralda del Paraiso||Agua caliente||Izabal||−89.2206111||15.5833056||55|
|Rio Zarquito||Río Oscuro||Izabal||−89.3595278||15.3377222||5||High >200|
|Rio Chapin||Chapin abajo||Izabal||−89.2665278||15.3924444||9|
|Puente Prieto||Sa Rosita/El Estor||Izabal||−89.2623889||15.5692222||13||Low <50|
|El lago||El Estor||Izabal||−89.3294722||15.5239722||12||High >200|
|Arroyo colorado||El Bongo/El Estor||Izabal||−89.1920833||15.6183333||212||Medium >50|
|Río Bouro||El Bongo/el Estor||Izabal||−89.1861667||15.6092222||159||Medium >50|
|La Palmera||Esmeralda||Livignston||−89.0103056||15.6942500||29||High >200|
|Cenote de Sarstum||Sarstum||Livingston||−89.9428056||15.8822500||15|
|Siete Altares||Livingston||Livingston||−89.7918889||15.8542778||83||Low <10|
|Cueva del tigre||Barra Lampara||Livingston||−88.8125278||15.7747500||74||Low <10|
|Las Conchas||Chasac||Alta Verapaz||−89.4616944||15.8533056||144||High <100|
|Río Lachua||Santa Lucia, Reserva Lachua||Alta Verapaz||−90.6639722||15.9245833||171||High>100|
|Puente la machaca||Santa Lucia, Reserva Lachua||Alta Verapaz||−90.6750833||15.9486389||195|
|Arroyo El Caoba||Santa Lucia, Reserva Lachua||Alta Verapaz||−90.6758333||15.9406944||175||Low <20|
|Arroyo las ranas||Santa Lucia, Reserva Lachua||Alta Verapaz||−90.6761944||15.9376389||180||High >100|
|Semuc- Champey||Larkin||Alta Verapaz||−89.9595833||15.5336667||353||High >200|
|Cueva las Marias||Semuc-Champey||Alta Verapaz||−89.9555556||15.5875000||357||Medium>50|
|Las Mesas||Rio Hondo Zacapa||−89.5932000||15.0545000||Low <10|
|Las Pozas||Buena Vista||Santa Rosa||−90.16264”||13.52519||14||Medium >50|
|Manchon Guamuchal||Manchon Guamuchal||Rethauleu||−92.05112||14.27499||17||Medium >50|
|La verde||Champerico||Rethauleu||−91.5408||14.195107||13||High >200|
|El Paraíso||Santa Rosa||Santa Rosa||−90.12144||13.485168||5||High >200|
|Las Lisas||Las Lisas||Santa Rosa||−90.15489||13.48516||6||High >200|
|La Avellana||Monterrico||Santa Rosa||−90.28119||13.54231||6|
|La campana||La campana||Peten||−91.07213||15.56554||231|
|Tres Rios||Tres Rios||Peten||−90.26084||16.00559||138|
|Las Pozas||Las Pozas||Peten||−90.09585||16.20044||168||Low >10|
|Melchor de Mencos||Melchor de Mencos||Peten||−89.09262||17.012404||106||Medium >50|
|San Antonio Las Cuevas||San Antonio Las Cuevas||Peten||−90.061916||15.52079||244||Medium >50|
|La Campana||La Campana||Peten||−91.07391||15.564503||244||High >100|
Therefore, less important problem is the increase in the pollution on rivers due the chemical products used in the sugar and palm farmers and their respective industries reported not only in Guatemala because it is a normal practice in Central America and Mexico.
In general, the commercial species have migrating behaviors, the constructions of dams, and the water use to agricultural activities also decreased the native populations producing that exotic species occupied the niches empty .
However, just now Guatemala has an important opportunity to make plans to development according the basin and their resources. To protect those species over exploited and increase their potential of those species that only are using by indigenous people could be establish farmers because there are the technologies to producing by tons, and could be one mechanism to conserve the biological diversity and have management plans on aquatic biological resources.
The authors are grateful with B. Flores, J. Pérez Brückweh, and A. Chale by their help in fieldtrip. This chapter is output from project: “Molecular systematics of freshwater prawns of genus