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International Collaboration Outlines Challenges of Desert Conservation

In August, 2014, the University of New Mexico collaborated with the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and Pronatura Noreste to produce a bilingual publication focused on collaborative international conservation efforts. Available online at no cost, the electronic book, "Conservation of desert wetlands and their biotas / Conservación de humedales desérticos y su biota," resulted from an ongoing collaborative project examining the potential of holistic approaches to conservation of desert springs through the case study of El Pandeño Spring and its microendemic pupfish Cyprinodon julimes in the Chihuahuan Desert at Julimes, Chihuahua, Mexico. Related to this effort, the same collaborative team is also working on a second case study which involves establishing a natural refuge habitat for the Carbonera Pupfish (Cyprinodon fontinalis). More information concerning this latter case is available through The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund website.

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The book details the development and implementation of the management program for El Pandeño Spring and the Julimes pupfish, discusses management actions that have aided or hindered program success, and reviews results from scientific studies of this system. Lessons learned from this biodiversity-focused water management initiative will aid development of more effective policies for conservation of freshwaters locally, regionally, and, potentially, in arid and semi-arid regions of other areas of the world.

Authors of the publication include Mauricio De la Maza-Benignos, Lilia Vela-Valladares, Ma. de Lourdes Lozano-Vilano, María Elena García-Ramírez , Jenny Zapata-López, Armando Jesús Contreras-Balderas, and Evan W. Carson. Locally, the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology and the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) became involved with the project through Dr. Carson, Research Associate in the UNM Department of Biology and faculty affiliate with the LAII.

According to Dr. Susan Tiano, director of the LAII, "Conservation of desert wetlands and their biotas shows what can be achieved through a collaborative approach that unites scientists, land managers, farmers and other stakeholders to conserve fragile desert ecosystems. In confronting the challenges of working across borders--be they national, cultural, social, or intellectual--the authors have outlined an interdisciplinary agenda or biodiversity conservation that has broad relevance for regions throughout Latin America and the rest of the world that are coping with water shortages. The work will have far-reaching appeal to anyone interested in the sustainable development of communities and their natural resources."

Image: Photograph from case study: Carbonera Pupfish (Cyprinodon fontinalis). Provided courtesy of The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

--Posted October 20, 2014.