|Town/Region||Nevado de Toluca, Popocatépetl|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||22 Feb 2017|
The Volcano Rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) is an endemic and habitat specialist lagomorph, restricted to the Sierras Chichinautzin and Nevada in the east part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It is actually endangered because of the modification and lose of their habitat. Given their biological peculiarities and conservation problematic, it result very important to generate knowledge about different ecological, genetic and biosocial aspects of The Volcano Rabbit, and use it to design and implement integral conservation strategies.
For these reasons, in this project we will delimitate it current distribution area and document the contraction patter and their causes. We will study their habitat use to identify relevant natural and anthropic factors that determine it occupation and abundance. The abundance obtained in conjunction with the ecological niche modelling will be use to detect relevant conservation areas.
By studying their population genetics we will be able to know about it genetic health, obtain their values of genetic variation and, particularly important, inbreeding coefficient; determine the number and distribution of genetic groups (populations); and the levels of gene flow between this populations. We will also evaluate the presence of fine scale genetic structure and the general and sex mediated dispersal ability.
In the biosocial part, we will clearly convey key information to the local communities that enables them to raise awareness about The Volcano Rabbit and help them understand the dynamic between this rabbit and its habitat.
As a part of the conservation strategies, we will generate an agenda of people who show interest in the conservation of the rabbit, so we can organize and create a voluntary community monitoring in the community of Río Frio in the North of Sierra Nevada, which represents the 20% of the current distribution of The Volcano rabbit. One important issue in this conservation strategies is that we are already in contact with the authorities of the park Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl and the Biological Corridor Chichinautzin, protected areas that together cover more than the 50% of the total distribution of The Volcano Rabbit, and they have shown interest in incorporating the knowledge generated in this research and work together in the design and implementation of a long-term conservation plan for The Volcano Rabbit. So that, work in this collaboration with the authorities of these protected areas and link the voluntary community monitoring group, will be the next step after this project that will let us to conserve and maintain viable populations of the incredible Volcano Rabbit.
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