• An approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous Mexican communities

      Kent, Tricia (2017-05)
      This case study describes an approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous communities in the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Seven participatory tools were applied to assess community members' experience of current climate change conditions, the challenges posed by changing conditions, and their communities' efforts to adapt. Tools, such as the Stratified Timeline, that provided community members time to work in groups and reflect on the questions they were asked allowed them to better express their knowledge of climate change than tools that isolated community members or used technical language such as the Pre and Post-Test. Although community members were generally aware of changes in their climate, they were unfamiliar with the concept of adaptation or of how certain activities could help them adapt. Through their responses to these seven tools, community members expressed their belief that the climate is in fact changing in their region of Oaxaca. The biggest concern in all three communities was the lack of seasonal rains, which was affecting their ability to farm and ensure food security. Some adaptations, provided through soil and water conservation projects, were being undertaken in the region through governmental entities such as the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve, but there is great need and much interest in having more of these types of projects implemented, to help communities adapt to climate change.
    • Baseline data of bird populations in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, Mexico: a citizen science approach

      Anderson, Teresa S.; Fix, Peter J.; Carsten-Conner, Laura D.; Dalle-Molle, Lois K. (2017-12)
      This project tested the viability of converting a local environmental education group, "Eco Chavos" into a team of citizen scientists. In rural biosphere reserves in Mexico, with few resources and large resident populations, community-based biological inventory and monitoring has the potential to increase the impact of Mexican biosphere reserves by generating scientific information and engaging local residents in hands-on environmental education. To test this, I formed a citizen science birding group and trained them in bird identification, survey techniques, data collection, and data management. The project began in January 2016 and in December 2016 I stopped mentoring the program and let it continue under its own leadership. Our team was composed of an Eco Chavos group and a resident ornithologist who conducted land and water-based surveys multiple times a month. As of August 2017, 160 bird species have been registered, including three species endemic to Mexico; the Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno), Blue Mockingbird (Melanotis caerulescens), and Spotted Wren (Campylorhynchus gularis). The survey provided an inventory of bird diversity in the reservoir, and could serve as a starting point to measure occurrence and abundance over time. The data were published in the updated management plan of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve as well as in a new bird book, Guía de Aves de la Presa Jalpan. A new community group, "Aves de la Presa Jalpan" was formed and contributed information via an online public database. The database may be used by the international network of bird monitors to analyze population trends in both local Mexican bird populations and in international bird migrations. In addition, participants showed increased bird identification skills, leadership, increased interest in birds, and engagement in project tasks and planning. Infrastructure was built to encourage birdwatching tourism in the Biosphere Reserve and the foundation was set to continue this research in the future.