By Jorge H. Valdez Villavicencio / Fauna del Noroeste
As part of the project “Conservation status of endangered species of San Quintín, Baja California” we visited the Punta Mazo Nature Reserve and surrounding areas to inspect monitoring sites of two little-known endemic species: the legless lizard of Baja California (Anniella geronimensis) and the Baja California whiptail (Aspidoscelis labialis).
This project, in collaboration with the San Diego Natural History Museum and Terra Peninsular seeks to comprehend the status of several endangered species of small mammals and lizards to lead conservation efforts and protect these species.
From April 5 to 7, 2018, staff members of Fauna del Noroeste, Anny Peralta García, Andrea Navarro Tiznado, Norma S. González Gutiérrez, and me, Jorge H. Valdez, performed the first sampling of this project, as well as two Biology students from UABC, Fernanda Manríquez Gómez and Christian Valdez Ibarra. This time we camped at El Refugio, which is part of the Punta Mazo Nature Reserve and this helped us to move easily between the sampling sites.
For the samplings of the legless lizard we made quadrants in places with natural vegetation and sites with the presence of introduced plant species such as the ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) and the Carpobrotus sp, with the purpose of obtaining information about the possible effect of invasive plants on this species with particular habits. In the case of the Baja California whiptail, there was the uncertainty of its presence in Punta Mazo and surrounding areas of the San Quintín Valley, since it had not been registered since 1970.
In the three days of sampling, we made 30 quadrants in which we found low abundance of the legless lizard (A. geronimensis). On the other hand, we conducted six search transects of the Baja California whiptail (A. labialis) and we managed to find 20 individuals of this lizard confirming its presence in the Punta Mazo Nature Reserve. This emphasizes the work of Terra Peninsular in preserving this beautiful place and the importance of supporting research projects. Other species of reptiles that we observed during the samplings were the common side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana), Baja California spiny lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus) and gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer).
We would like to thank César Guerrero, Jorge Andrade and Enrique Alfaro of Terra Peninsular for the support we received during our staying at El Refugio.