A new study in Tropical Conservation Science shows that small tropical mammals in Mexico—bats and rodents—require a variety of habitats to thrive. Surveying mammal populations in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, researchers found that sites comprising the greatest habitat diversity carried also the greatest diversity of rodents. In turn bats lived in all variety of habitats and moved easily from one to another.
Capturing 1,133 individual animals, comprising 13 rodent species and 26 bat species in 2006, researchers surveyed a variety of habitats including farmlands, pasture, human settlements, and secondary habitat. The authors hypothesize that the diversity patterns observed in their survey was due to both habitat diversity and diverse food resources.
Capturing the painted spiny pocket mouse (Liomys pictus) in Mexico.
The authors recommend conservation efforts that emphasize protecting wildlife corridors to give shelter and food for the species, along with the ability to move from one ecosystem to another. Such corridors allow both generalist mammals and specialist mammals to thrive together. Threatened bat species would also improve with shrub and tree cover near bodies of water. The presence of human activity was not found to affect the diversity of these small mammals.
Small mammals, such as bats and rodents, play important roles in ecosystem and aid humans through seed dispersal and insect control.
Citation: Zeigler, S. L., Fagan, W. F., DeFries, R. and Raboy, B. E.. 2010. Identifying Important Forest Patches for the Long-term Persistence of the Endangered Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas). Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 3 (1):63-77.
(05/25/2009) Nearly one third of the New World’s 32 species of ungulates are found in Mexico, which serves as an important biological transition zone between temperate North America and tropical Central and South America. While few of these species are at risk of extinction, their ecological and economic importance makes them a significant conservation concern. As such, a special issue of Tropical Conservation Science, mongabay.com’s open access journal, takes a closer look at Mexico’s ungulates.
(04/21/2009) Ambystoma mexicanum, a salamander found only in the fetid canals surrounding Mexico City, faces extinction despite the efforts of researchers. As reported by Robert Koenig in the 5 December issue of Science, ecologists estimate that there are now only 100 of these salamanders per square kilometer in the canals, swamps, and lakes around the city – a rapid drop from their density of 600 per square kilometer in the 1980s. The population has dwindled as the system of waterways has dried up and become more polluted, and the salamander is now designated as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Luis Zambrano of the National Autonomous University of Mexico is studying the axolotl to better understand its ecology, reproduction, and conservation. He’s working to identify the best areas of habitat and establish reserves.
(02/09/2009) Salamanders in Central America — like frogs, toads, and other amphibians at sites around the world — are rapidly and mysteriously declining, report researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Disturbingly, salamanders are disappearing from protected areas and otherwise pristine habitats.