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.
Part of the book: Biological Resources of Water