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Help Sophie with Research in Mexico expenses!
£66 raised
3% of £2k goal
4 contributors
3 Years running
I'm Sophie and I'm going to Mexico to be a Research assistant for four weeks during the summer of 2014! I am going with a well-known company called Operation Wallacea. I am a University Student studying Psychology and Neuroscience and thought I ...

I'm Sophie and I'm going to Mexico to be a Research assistant for four weeks during the summer of 2014! I am going with a well-known company called Operation Wallacea. I am a University Student studying Psychology and Neuroscience and thought I could be of use in Mexico where research is being done in Calakmul and Akmul. My time will be split between research in forest and marine environments.

Forest:

I will be spending the first two weeks assisting in tropical forest in Calakmul.  This is home to two of the largest ancient Mayan cities of Tikal in Guatermala and Calakmul dating back to around 400AD, and also one of the oldest ancient Mayan cities El Mirador dating back to 600BC! Ruined cities are found in the tropical forest, as well as pyramids which can tower to about 65m in height; it is these that gave Calakmul its name. The forest is one of the last remaining stands of virgin forest in Mexico as it has not been burned for farming and ranching, and has not been used for timber production.

There is a wide range of wildlife in the forest which includes jaguar, puma, spider monkeys, over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of different species of birds including parrots and toucans. The Calakmul Biosphere forms part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor; this is an area of habitat which connects wildlife populations separated by human activity and structures. This is of huge importance because it ensures gene flow between animal populations so as to prevent negative effects of inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity, and to ensure populations can withstand natural disasters. This especially important as Mexico can experience extreme weather conditions.

Quantify the carbon storage of forests and to produce annual data on the biodiversity of the key animals. The data is important for reports used for funding. Focus is also on large mammals. Calakmul is part of the largest remaining stronghold for jaguar and tapir. Hunting of these mammals is a concern and so it is appropriate to produce annual data on the mammals’ population densities so that sustainable hunting quotas can be calculated. This is so that local communities can be educated in what hunting is most sustainable for the environment.

Marine:

The two weeks after Calakmul will be spent in Akumal which is a small coastal town. The name of the town means “home of the turtles” in Maya. The town lives up to its name because of the turtle nesting sites along the beach, and because of the presence of juvenile turtles in sea grasses just off shore. Two turtle species can be found on local beaches: the Loggerhead turtle and the Green turtle.

There are many building plans in the Akumal area which do not include plans for any waste water treatment. Without planning for this, waste water will be directly empties into underground river systems which eventually flow out to sea.

Baseline data needs to be provided about the water quality, lagoons, reefs and their biodiversity, the turtle population and the beach erosion. This is needed to provide evidence of the impact of improperly managed tourism and human developments on the coastal ecosystem. We need to ensure that future developments do not worsen any varying conditions. As a research assistant I will be helping with the collecting of this data.

As you can see, this data collection is of such a huge importance to the biodiversity in Mexico. As a research assistant I hope that my collecting of data will make a useful difference. It is an amazing life experience. So please, please help me out!
Thank you! There is more information on the Operation Wallacea website. 

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