Social perceptions of ecosystem services delivered by coastal wetlands: their value and the threats they face in northwestern Mexico




climate change, Ecosystem Services, extrem rainfall event, social perception, wetlands


Wetlands are recognized for their socio-environmental value and capacity to provide ecosystem services (ES) that are currently threatened by diverse drivers, including those derived from climate change. These changes in the ES delivery may not be recognized by their users, and to determine the extent to which communities are aware of the presence and importance of coastal wetlands, participatory workshops were held in four coastal communities in northwestern Mexico following the Metaplan methodology. The effects produced by extreme rainfall events (as a manifestation of climate change) on wetlands and their ES, were also analyzed. Four coastal wetlands (estuaries, saltmarshes, mangroves, and lagoons) were among the most important ecosystems, while poor fishing practices, mangrove deforestation, and pollution, were identified as their main threats. Climate change, land use changes and water mismanagement, also threat wetlands. There were a few differences among communities, mostly related to the number of ES and their categories; nonetheless, saltmarshes and mangroves were priority wetlands in the communities included in this study, recognizing the ES they provide. Most of the participants in all communities coincided on the main threats and pressures facing wetlands and their ES, particularly those related to climate change, which also affect their livelihoods. But, despite the awareness, regional coastal wetlands continue to decline, considering that participatory processes are necessary for establishing the importance of wetlands while incorporating traditional knowledge, alternative actions, and novel solutions into management actions that may be scaled from the community level into regional development strategies.

Author Biographies

Aimée Cervantes Escobar, Centro de Invetigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, AC

Fisheries Biologist graduated from the Faculty of Marine Sciences, UAS (Sinaloa, Mexico).Has a Master's Degree in Environmental Management by the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (Mexico)  and a PhD by the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, Spain. Currently Dr. Cervantes leads the Neotropical Management and Conservation A.C. association, and teaches at the Faculty of Marine Sciences, in the Coastal Zone Management career. She participates in projects and studies on ecosystem services, Collaborative Planning and Social Cartography, oriented to Ecosystem Management and territorial planning.

Arturo Ruiz-Luna, CIAD, AC

Dr. Ruiz obtained his Bachelor (Biology) and MSc degrees by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and his PhD degree by the Universitat de Barcelona, ​​Spain. He collaborates in the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, AC, at Mazatlan (Sinaloa, Mexico), on the field of ​​Ecology of aquatic systems and resources,  particularly focused on the evaluation of the structure, dynamics and processes of coastal ecosystems and resources, especially wetlands, including the analysis of trends of change at various spatialand temporary scales. Recently, he ncorporated the analysis of ecosystem services and coastal vulnerability to his research projects, where GIS and Remote Sensing applications are decisive for obtaining results. 

César Alejandro Berlanga Robles, Centro de Invetigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, AC

Biologist, MSc (Biology of Systems and Aquatic Resources) and PhD (Marine Biology) awarded by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Member of the National System of Researchers (SNI) since 2002, currently with the distinction of National Researcher Level I. He joined the Laboratory of Environmental Management in 1997 and from 2004 he is Senior Researcher, developing the research line of Ecology of Resources and Landscape of the Coastal Zone, with applications of Remote Sensing techniques, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Multivariate Analysis.



Agenda 21 (1992) Accessed 9 September 2022.

Agresti A (2007) An Introduction to Categorical Data Analysis. Wiley, Canada.

Arellano-Aguilar O, Betancourt-Lozano M, Aguilar-Zárate G, Ponce de Leon-Hill C (2017) Agrochemical loading in drains and rivers and its connection with pollution in coastal lagoons of the Mexican Pacific. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189 (6): 1-12.

Artigas PE, Ramos RAE, Vargas RH (2014) La participación comunitaria en la conservación del medioambiente: Clave para el desarrollo local sostenible. DELOS. 7(21).

Barbier EB (2011) Wetlands as natural assets. Hydrological Sciences Journal 56(8):1360-1373

Berlanga-Robles CA, Ruiz-Luna A (2002) Land use mapping and change detection in the coastal zone of Northwest Mexico using remote sensing techniques. Journal of Coastal Research Vol. 18, 3, 514-522.

Berlanga CA, Ruiz LA, De la Lanza G (2008) Esquema de clasificación de los humedales en México. Investigaciones Geográficas, Boletín del Instituto de Geografía, UNAM. 66: 25-46.

Berlanga-Robles CA, Ruiz-Luna A, Bocco G, Vekerdy Z (2011) Spatial analysis of the impact of shrimp culture on the coastal wetlands on the Northern coast of Sinaloa, Mexico. Ocean and Coastal Management 54: 535-543.

Berlanga-Robles CA, Ruiz-Luna A, Hernández-Guzmán R (2021) Caracterización socioeconómica y ambiental de la zona costera del noroeste de México, por medio de indicadores. In: Cervantes-Escobar A, Hernández-Guzmán, R, Montijo-Galindo A, (eds.). Vulnerabilidad costera en el noroeste de México. Un enfoque multidisciplinario. CIAD. Pp. 15-42. ISBN: 978-607-7900-44-3.

Camacho-Valdez V, Ruiz-Luna A (2012) Marco conceptual y clasificación de los servicios ecosistémicos. Revista Bio Ciencias doi: 10.15741/revbio.01.04.02

Camacho-Valdez V, Ruiz-Luna A, Ghermandi A, Nunes PALD (2013) Valuation of ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands in northwest Mexico. Ocean and Coastal Management doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.02.017

Camacho-Valdez V, Ruiz-Luna A, Ghermandi A, Berlanga-Robles CA, Nunes PALD (2014) Effects of land use changes on the ecosystem service values of coastal wetlands. Environmental Management doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0332-9.

Carpenter SR, Fisher SG, Grimm NB, Kitchell JF (1992) Global change and freshwater ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 119-139.

Carvajal AG (1994) Clima, suelo, boque y sus interrelaciones en la percepción de los Talamaqueños, Costa Rica. Anuario de Estudios Centroamericanos 20(1):43-64.

Clarkson BR, Ausseil AE, Gerbeaux P (2013) Wetland ecosystem services. In: Dymond J.R. (ed.). Ecosystem services in New Zealand – conditions and trends. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, New Zealand.

CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad). Accessed: 14 September 2022.

Coneval (2021) Accessed: 9 September 2022).

Costanza R, De Groot R, Braat L, Kubiszewski I, Fioramonti L, Sutton P, Farber St, Grasso M (2017) Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go? Ecosystem Services Doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.09.008

Data Mexico (2021) Accessed: 9 September 2022.

Davidson NC (2014) How much wetland has the world lost? Long-term and recent trends in global wetland area. Marine and Freshwater Research doi:10.1071/MF14173

De Groot RS, Alkemade R, Braat L, Hein L, Willemen L (2010) Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management and decision. Ecological Complexity. doi:10.1016/j.ecocom.2009.10.006

Duarte CM, Alonso S, Benito G, Dachs J, Montes C, Pardo M, Ríos AF, Simó R, Valladares F (2006) Cambio global. Impacto de la actividad humana sobre el sistema Tierra. España: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 165 p.

Émerit B (2008) Cambio climático y sustentabilidad económica y social: Implicaciones sobre el bienestar social CIRIEC-ESPAÑA, Revista de Economía Pública, Social y Cooperativa 61: 51-72.

Ericson JA (2006) A participatory approach to conservation in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Campeche, Mexico. Landscape and Urban Planning 74(3-4): 242-266. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2004.09.006

Flores VFJ, Casasola P, de la Lanza-Espino G, Agraz HC (2010) El manglar, otros humedales costeros y el cambio climático p. 165-188. En: Botello AV, Villanueva-Fragoso S, Gutiérrez J, Rojas GJL (ed.). Vulnerabilidad de las zonas costeras mexicanas ante el cambio climático. Semarnat-Ine, Unam-Icmyl, Universidad Autónoma de Campeche. 514 p.

García-Llorente M, Castro AJ, Quintas-Soriano C, Oteros-Rozas E, Iniesta-Arandia I, González JA, García del Amo D, Hernández-Arroyo M, Casado-Arzuaga I, Palomo I, Gómez-Baggethun E, Onaindia M, Montes C, Martín-López B (2020) Local perceptions of ecosystem services across multiple ecosystem types in Spain. Land 9 (9), 330; doi:10.3390/land9090330.

Habershon N (1993) Metaplan (R): Achieving two-way communications. J. Eur. Ind. Train. 17: 8-13. doi:/10.1108/03090599310042528

Hernández-Guzmán R, Berlanga-Robles CA, Ruiz-Luna A, Suazo-Ortuño I (2021) Cambios en la extensión de los humedales costeros del estado de Sinaloa, México. In: Cervantes-Escobar A, Hernández-Guzmán R, Montijo-Galindo A (eds.). Vulnerabilidad costera en el noroeste de México. Un enfoque multidisciplinario. CIAD. 147-164. ISBN: 978-607-7900-44-3.

Houde N (2007) The six faces of traditional ecological knowledge: challenges and opportunities for Canadian co-management arrangements. Ecology and Society 12(2):34.

Lebreton B, Rivaudb A, Picota L, Prévostb B, Barilléc L, Sauzeaud T, Beseres Pollacke J, Lavauda J (2019) From ecological relevance of the ecosystem services concept to its socio-political use. The case study of intertidal bare mudflats in the Marennes-Oléron Bay, France. Ocean and Coastal Management doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2019.01.024

MacDonald PL, Gardner RC (2000) Type I error rate comparisons of post hoc procedures for I×J chi-square tables. Educational and Psychological Measurement 60: 735-754. doi:

Maltby E, Acreman MC (2011) Ecosystem services of wetlands: pathfinder for a new paradigm Hydrolog. Sci. J. doi:10.1080/02626667.2011.

Mangiafico SS (2015) An R Companion for the Handbook of Biological Statistics, version 1.3.4.

Marín-Muñiz JL, Hernández AME, Silva RE, Moreno CP (2016) Percepciones sobre servicios ambientales y pérdida de humedales arbóreos en la comunidad de Monte Gordo, Veracruz. Madera y Bosques. 22: 53-69.

McDonald JH (2014) Handbook of Biological Statistics. Sparky House Publishing, Baltimore, Maryland.

McMichael AJ (2013) Globalization, climate change, and human health. New England Journal of Medicine 368(14): 1335-1343. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1109341

Messerli P, Murniningtyas E, Eloundou-Enyegue P, Foli EG, Furman E, Glassman A, Richardson K (2019) Global sustainable development report 2019: The future is now–science for achieving sustainable development.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystem and human well-being: wetlands and water synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.

Mitsch WJ (2016) Wetlands and climate change. National Wetlands Newsletter 38(1): 5-11.

Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2015) Wetlands. Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Moeder M, Carranza-Diaz O, López-Angulo G, Vega-Aviña R, Chávez-Durán FA, Jomaa S, Delgado-Vargas F (2017) Potential of vegetated ditches to manage organic pollutants derived from agricultural runoff and domestic sewage: A case study in Sinaloa (Mexico). Science of The Total Environment 598, 1106-1115. Doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.04.149

Olmsted I (1993) Wetlands of Mexico. In: Whigham DF, Dykyjová D, Hejný S. (eds) Wetlands of the world: Inventory, ecology and management Volume I. Handbook of vegetation science, 15(2). Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 637–678. doi:10.1007/978-94-015-8212-4_13.

Ottinger M, Clauss K, Kuenzer C (2016) Aquaculture: Relevance, distribution, impacts and spatial assessments–A review. Ocean and Coastal Management doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.10.015.

Ramsar Convention (2008) Resolution X.3 The Changwon Declaration on human well-being and wetlands. Changwon, Republic of Korea.

Rojas O, Zamorano M, Saez K, Rojas C, Vega C, Arriagada L, Basnou C (2017) Social perception of ecosystem services in coastal wetland post-earthquake: A case study in Chile. Sustainability doi:10.3390/su9111983.

Ruiz–Luna A, Acosta VJ, Berlanga–Robles AC (2008) On the reliability of the data of extent of mangrove; a case study in Mexico. Ocean and Coastal Management 51: 342–351.

Sage RF (2020) Global change biology: A primer. Global Change Biology doi:10.1111/gcb.14893.

SEMARNAT (2012) Los humedales en México. Oportunidades para la sociedad.

Stern N (2007) The economics of climate change: The Stern review. Cambridge Univ. Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511817434

TEEB (2013) The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for water and wetlands. London and Brussels, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) & Ramsar Secretariat. 78 p.

Velázquez-Salazar S, Rodríguez-Zúñiga MT, Alcántara-Maya JA, Villeda-Chávez E, Valderrama-Landeros L, Troche-Souza C, Vázquez-Balderas B, Pérez-Espinosa I, Cruz-López MI, Ressl R, De la Borbolla DVG, Paz O, Aguilar-Sierra V, Hruby FC, Muñoa-Coutiño JH (2021) Manglares de México. Actualización y análisis de los datos 2020. CONABIO. México.

Vernon ME, Campos BR, Burnett RD (2019) A guide to climate-smart meadow restoration in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades. Point Blue Contribution, (2232).

West LJ, Hankin RK (2008) Exact tests for two-way contingency tables with structural zeros. J. Stat. Softw. 28: 1-19.




How to Cite

Cervantes Escobar, A., Ruiz-Luna, A., & Berlanga Robles, C. A. (2023). Social perceptions of ecosystem services delivered by coastal wetlands: their value and the threats they face in northwestern Mexico. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 12.



Original research article