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The expedition is taking place at the Calakmul Biosphere reserve in Mexico which has a huge expanse of tropical forest spanning over 11 million hectares. This forest is one of the remaining areas in which large animals such as jaguars, bairds tapir, puma and spider monkey reside. There is also over 90 species of herpetofauna, 50 species of bat and 350 bird species. The reserve is important to the wildlife as it acts as a corridor between animal populations to ensure gene flow. The forest around the reserve that connects Calakmul to other protected areas is disappearing at an alarming rate. Increased population size and the unpredictable climate is the main the cause of the problem. Most people are needing more land to farm so there is a big pressure to clear forests. During my time on this expedition i would be given training and helping towards the biodiversity surveys which are carried out in the forests. I will also being doing a reef ecology course then go onto complete reef monitoring projects. This takes place in a small coastal town called Akumal, this is the location of where many sea turtles come for nesting as there are numerous nesting sites around the bay. Before there was tourism in this area most of the local resident's income came from fishing which lead to over fishing, this lead to the ecosystem almost collapsing. Sea turtles populations were also in decline due to being a food source. This is why tourism has been encouraged in the form of snorkelling and diving but as there has been a rise in tourism it may lead to its own problems. As high volume of people would need more space, therefore problems for turtles on the beach and also problems in the sea like that of loss of mangrove habitats(these clean water etc). Operation Wallacea is to establish an annual monitoring programme for coastal ecosystems that includes monitoring of tourist numbers and their use of the habitat, water quality assessments which can be related to coral reef health and diversity, monitoring of sea grasses and juvenile turtles, the monitoring of nesting turtles and their available nesting areas.
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