Workshop on Lizards as a Studying Model for Climate Change

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By Rafael A. Lara Reséndiz and Jorge H. Valdez Villavicencio / Northwestern Center of Biological Research (CIBNOR) and Fauna del Noroeste A.C.

At a worldwide level, Mexico is considered as the second country with the greatest diversity of reptiles with 864 species, among them 3 species of crocodiles, 3 species of amphibians, 48 species of turtles, 393 species of snakes and 417 species of lizards. Currently, reptiles are at risk of extinction as many populations are critically endangered due to a long list of anthropogenic factors.

According to that, lizards have been used as a model group in many types of research, such as physiology, ecology, evolution and recently, to assess the effects of the climate change. This is why, it is urgent to raise awareness among the public in general and to update the knowledges of the students and professionals about the causes and effects of climate change on this group of reptiles.

Therefore, as part of the products of the project “Effect of climate change on reptiles in northwest Mexico: conservation and mitigation measures” financed by the National Commission of Science and Technology (Conacyt) (PDCPN 2015-1319), we did the workshop “Lizards as a studying model for climate change”.

The workshop was held from the 13th to the15th of April 2018, we met first with the participants in Ensenada and then headed to the Punta Mazo Nature Reserve in San Quintín, where the activities of the workshop took place.

1 Fausto Mendez

This reserve represents an excellent place for this type of workshops (theoretical-practical) due to its richness and diversity of reptiles and other groups of animals and plants. First of all, the species found in the reserve are emblematic, for example, the legless lizard of Baja California (Anniella geronimensis) and the chameleon of Cedros Island (Phrynosoma cerroense), both endemic species and exclusively from northwest Mexico. Then, the  preserved landscapes of the dunes’ ecosystem and the volcanic shield, are important to study their herpeto fauna and it also allowed the theory to go into practice instantely, reinforcing straight away the knowledge acquired.

This workshop was attended by 23 participants, among them 19 students from the Autonomous University of Baja California (16), the University of Sonora (2), and the University of the Sierra-Moctezuma (1) and 4 professionals from the staff of Terra Peninsular.

The workshop was conducted by renowned researchers such as PhD. Fausto Méndez de la Cruz (IB-UNAM), PhD. Rafael Lara Reséndiz (CIBNOR), as well as M. in Sc. Jorge H. Valdez Villavicencio (FAUNO Civil Society) and Biol. Ana G. Pérez Delgadillo (IB-UNAM), who taught several key topics on herpetology, thermal ecology and natural history of lizards. Also, different methodologies on the risk of extinction were analyzed, fieldwork was done inside the reserve and eventually the importance of thermal ecophysiology studies was discussed, where field and laboratory datas are required to evaluate the vulnerability of this group of reptiles.

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