Support Operation Wallacea Mexico 2015 - Ella Strachan

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Support Operation Wallacea Mexico 2015 - Ella Strachan

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The Mexican research project is run in the vast Mayan Jungle (Selva Maya) that covers the southern section of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. To record data on tree diversity and tree volume in order to calculate reliable estimates of the carbon biomass contained in Calakmul, which will determine the extent of funding that can be obtained from REDD. To assist in the biodiversity surveys of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds completed by specialists, which will also determine the extent of funding that can be obtained from REDD. To ascertain population density of large mammals to enable creation of sustainable hunting quotas for buffer zone communities. One of the forests we will observe, called The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is an extremely important wildlife corridor that ensures gene flow between animal populations, and that populations can withstand natural disasters such as droughts, forest fires, hurricanes and floods. The aim of the Operation Wallacea project in Calakmul is twofold: to reduce the threats to the Calakmul forest and maintain its connectivity to the remainder of the Selva Maya by providing training and funding for sustainable alternative sources of income for local people, and to monitor forest coverage and diversity in and around the reserve to determine the efficacy of these management strategies. During our Marine research in Cancun we will be looking mainly at turtles. However, the nearby coral reefs are showing signs of impact in line with the wider Caribbean region, and this ecological deterioration combines with the abundance of sea turtles to make Akumal a site of great biological importance and a management priority. The main research objective for the Operation Wallacea teams at Akumal is therefore to establish an annual monitoring programme for coastal ecosystem management that includes monitoring of tourist numbers and their use of the habitat, water quality assessment that can be related to coral reef health and diversity, monitoring of Diadema as a symptom of reef deterioration, monitoring of sea grasses and the juvenile turtles that feed on them, and monitoring of nesting turtles and the availability of suitable nesting sites.

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