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Mexican High Plateau

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NameColor on MapCEC Code*
Hills and Interior Plains with Xeric Shrub and Mesquite Low Forest12.2.1

* This code refers to the CEC's Level 3 ecoregion codes for North America, see here.

About the Mexican High Plateau

The Mexican High Plateau, known in Spanish as el Bajío, meaning the lowlands, is a level II ecoregion covering a large plateau in central Mexico.

This region is high-altitude and relatively flat, but surrounded by areas of even higher elevation on most sides. The climate is mostly semiarid, although in some parts of the region it tends towards humid subtropical. There is a strong seasonality of precipitation and only slight seasonality of temperatures. Rain falls primarily June through September, with the rest of the year experiencing desert-like rainfall levels. Rain often arrives as afternoon thunderstorms. Frost is uncommon, but does occur in the area, and snowfall is even rarer.

This region contains Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest freshwater lake, which drains into the Pacific ocean. However, the basin farther east is endorheic (not draining to the outside), and drains to the Lake Cuitzeo, whose water level fluctuates seasonally, but which is the second-largest freshwater lake in Mexico.

This region has been heavily altered from its original vegetation. The original cover was probably mostly grassland. Presently, much of this region is used for cropland, especially in the south where there are ample water sources. There is significant pastureland. This area also has large expanses of urban development, with the major metro areas of Guadalajara and León. Some parts of the region are covered in tropical deciduous forests, including some mesquite forests in lowlands and oak and mixed oak-pine forests in more mountainous areas.

This region is bordered to the south and west by the Transversal Neo-Volcanic System, to the northeast by the Eastern Sierra Madre, to the northwest by the Western Sierra Madre. All of these borders are more abrupt and marked by elevation changes. To the north this region is bordered by the Western Sierra Madre Piedmont; this border is more of a gradual transitionl.