LAII Lecture Focuses on Conserving Desert Biodiversity in Mexico

August 20, 2013

The UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) is pleased to announce the first presentation in its Fall 2013 Lecture Series: "The Art of the Possible: Partnerships in Conserving Desert Biodiversity in Mexico" with Dr. Evan W. Carson, Research Assistant Professor in the Biology Department and a faculty affiliate with the LAII. The presentation will be held Wednesday, August 28, 2013, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in the LAII Conference Room. Please see the event flyerfor reference.

Carson has a great and longstanding interest in population genetics and desert fishes of Mexico. The main objective of his research program is to supply conservation organizations and managers with population genetic information to guide conservation management of imperiled desert fishes and their habitats. This work is conducted primarily through collaboration with colleagues at Pronatura Noreste, A. C., and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL) in Mexico.

The Chihuahuan Desert is notable for unusually high levels of biodiversity and endemism within an arid landscape. This biota is particularly diverse in Mexico where it is also highly imperiled due to widespread, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. Loss of desert biodiversity is driven by landscape-scale effects that present a vexing problem for conservation: How can limited resources for protection be used most effectively when i) ecosystem deterioration is a regional phenomenon; ii) individual species are distributed locally; and iii) wide chasms often separate the priorities of stakeholders? One approach for which early results are promising involves a locally applied, landscape extensible model being tested in Chihuahua, northern Mexico. This bottom-up strategy focuses on development of a flexible conservation model that emphasizes partnership with and common ground between conservationists and local landowners. Success of this model hinges on sustainable development of natural resources, such that durable conservation agreements can be negotiated and long-term security for landowners can be achieved. The framework of this model, case examples, and the importance of local, national, and international education programs will be discussed.