Page 79 - Walks In The Black Range, Vol. 4
P. 79

1. Wikipedia got one part of the definition wrong when it describes ciénegas as unique to the American Southwest. They are also found in northern Mexico. (See following article.)
The Fate of Ciénegas
A ciénega is a feature with hydrological, biological, and geological features. So many components means that there is a lot of room for diversity.
Most of the ciénegas in the Black Range have long disappeared under the hooves of cattle. But that is not just an American, or New Mexican, phenomenon; it is true in Mexico as well.
Cuatro Ciénegas in northeastern Chihuahua may be the most biologically diverse place in the world. (Every nature show you have ever seen has someone claiming some version of “most diverse”. But in this case it is probably the real thing.)*
The ciénegas of the Black Range are very different from the Cuatro Ciénegas, primarily because of the geologic

formations which the spring water flows through to get to the ciénegas. The chemistry and access to primordial archaea** make for an astonishing biological environment. I will not dwell on the particulars; if you have an interest, see the article referenced below.
Here I simply want to note that the Mexicans, like their neighbors to the north, want to drain the local ciénegas to grow alfalfa and water cattle. A few quick dollars on one hand always outweighs the loss of thousands of unique life forms (which, most likely, are of huge economic import). It is the human way.
* Science, 3 July 2020, Vol. 369, Issue 6499, “Improbable Oasis - Pools in the Mexican desert are a hot spot of microbial diversity - and window into early life”, pp 20- 25, by Rodrigo Pérez Ortega. Map below right is from this article.
** Black Range Naturalist, Volume 2, Number 2, April 3, 2019, “Carl Woese, An Interview With Lloyd Barr”, pp. 12-14.

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