Project Description

Monitoring waterfowl at Desemboque de los Seris, Sonora, Mexico. (Photo by Jennie Duberstein).

This project involves an indigenous coastal community in habitat conservation and migratory waterfowl monitoring at the northernmost Pacific mangrove habitat in Mexico. The Seri Indians, or Comcáac, are the last hunting, gathering, and fishing culture in the arid regions of North America to retain their native language, traditional ecological knowledge base, and non-agricultural subsistence base among the majority of its tribal members (ca. 650) into the 21stcentury. This project, which emerged from the Desemboque community after five years of a para-ecologist capacity-building effort, seeks to develop community leadership and monitoring skills to better manage the coastal habitats of migratory birds. The project objectives were written by a Seri resource management team in order to allow the first phase of implementation of a "traditional community habitat conservation plan" recognized by the Mexican government and developed by tribal members with NAU technical assistance. This project will (1) establish a long-term monitoring program for migratory birds; (2) develop an online catalog of Birds of Comcáac Country and a tri-lingual field guide, with checklist cards to systematize local data collection; (3) offer opportunities for birding ecotourists and visiting professional ornithologists to contribute to the catalog by being guided on birding tours by native para-ecologists; (4) establish a permanent archive of bird counts from visitors, electronically cross-referenced by habitat, site, date, season, and year; (5) protect special or vulnerable habitats from human uses during nesting seasons; and (6) train young interns in monitoring and in turn, involve them in teaching primary and secondary school children in their community as means to recruit future ornithologists.

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Gary Nabhan
University of Arizona Institute for the Environment

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