Population Ecology for Conservation of Key Species of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: Merging Scientific Knowledge with Sustainable Management Options
This project is focused on the genetics and demography of two plant species with high conservation priority in the Biosphere Reserve Tehuacán-Cuicatlán in central México:
1) Palma Real (Dioon caputoi) is a rare cycad, the most geographically restricted species and with the smallest sized population in the genus. It has been subject to illegal traffic for several decades and, this, along with changes in land use, have caused severe depauparation of vital population rates which now show, mainly adult individuals and scarce juveniles and seedlings, these last being easier to extract from the land. Since 2003 we have recorded population vital rates (mortality, recruitment and fecundity) in order to define if plant populations are stable, growing or shrinking. Along with this research perspective, it is important to encourage conservation through propagation via seed harvesting, sowing and cultivation, as well as marketing of whole plants.
2) Maguey papalometl (Agave potatorum) is a species with a long history of use, whose stems are use to produce mezcal. The way that wild populations have been managed for years have had a high effect on the local extinction of populations. Local reforestation plans are necessary and are being implemented in order to recover the stability of populations. Design of in situ management strategies, based on population genetic studies, are necessary for providing a good genetic backup in the reforested locations. Better seed source populations will be those with high genetic diversity.
We plan to implement and integrate these management strategies as part of the local community activities.