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Sierra de Alamos, Sonora, Mex

Natural protected areas are established to preserve natural resources. Yet, there are often people living within these areas that rely on these natural resources for sustenance and don't have an alternative way to make a living. There is an increasing need to help these people attain an alternative way of living that does not require the destruction of natural resources. At the same time, it is urgent to understand the conservation priorities of the organisms living within natural protected areas. 

Students Conserving Nature (SCN) was established to: 1) gather information on the ecology of endangered or poorly known species within natural protected areas and to monitor their populations long-term, and 2) help local students develop skills that will be useful in attaining an alternative form of living in the future. We do this by employing a local leader and providing scholarships to middle and high school students to study target species within Mexico’s natural protected areas. Our strategy is that through field work, collecting and managing data, taking detailed field notes, and participating in outreach activities, that students will learn basic skills that will be useful in professional careers. Such skills include responsibility, discipline, leadership, critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and problem solving. 

In 2019, we received one-year of funding from The Rufford Foundation to begin SCN and study the ecology of the six species of turtles that occur in The Sierra de Alamos-Rio Cuchujaqui protected area in Sonora, Mexico. This award allowed us to hire a local leader and provide four scholarships to students in the small village of Sabinito Sur, located within the Sierra de Alamos. This team is providing the first ecological information on the six species of turtles that are found in the Sierra de Alamos. According to IUCN, one of these turtle species is considered vulnerable, one least-concern, and the rest ‘data deficient’. Therefore, data collected from our team will provide the baseline assessment of the conservation of these turtle species. 

This website has been created to make the data collected throughout this project open source so that anyone can come here to learn about target species and use these data for their own publications.

We are actively seeking funding to continue monitoring turtles in the Sierra de Alamos here into the indefinite future, and to expand our monitoring efforts to other target species.