Population dynamics of Mammillaria magnimamma Haworth. (Cactaceae) in a lava-field in central Mexico
One of the habitats occupied by Mammillaria magnimamma is a 2000-year old lava-field, in Mexico City. The great ecological interest on this lava-field and the little knowledge there is regarding cacti population ecology have compelled us to analyse the demography of this species to evaluate its present conservation status at this site. We studied two populations of this species within the lava-field: one in a disturbed site (i.e., recently burned) and another one in a well preserved site. For each population we built two size-based population projection matrices (1996/97 and 1997/98). Demographic data were gathered directly from observations of plant fates from one year to the next. Additionally, seed germination and seedling establishment experiments were carried out in the field to estimate fecundity values and seedling survival probabilities. The four matrices built were used to perform numerical analyses simulating yearly stochastic demographic variation to project the overall population's long-term behaviour under these changing conditions. Three of the four matrices showed λ values slightly below unity. In these cases elasticity values were highest for matrix entries corresponding to plants remaining in their same category. The matrix that showed a λ value above unity (well preserved site, 1997/98) had higher elasticity values for entries referring to seedling survival and growth. The numerical simulations of demographic stochasticity showed that the population appears to be growing at a slow rate. According to the simulation results, the variation in overall population size over time may be accounted for by yearly variation in seed germination and seedling survival. Population persistence probability might decrease significantly if fire frequency increases.