Knowledge Transfer in Northwestern Mexico: Conservation Ecology Courses to Create Local Leaders Among the Comcaac
There is widespread interest and action in the conservation of unique cultural and biological diversity. However, these actions largely lack local leadership and expertise, and learning opportunities for indigenous students are few. This is true for the Comcaac (Seri people), an indigenous culture that lived off the bounty of the desert and sea of the Gulf of California and Sonoran Desert for millennia. Today, rapid change envelops the Comcaac and their desert nation as outside cultures, paved roads, invasive species, and development pressures increasingly bear down on what was once a remote portion of the Gulf of California. This project aims to create a collaborative framework for a knowledge transfer program in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northwestern Mexico. These conservation ecology courses for a cohort of Seri youth will provide the highest level of scientific and conservation education. Specific self-led Comcaac community research teams will address priority topics in connection with the courses to help train the next generation of Comcaac leaders.
This project harnesses the collective energy and interest of the Comcaac, the Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers, universities, and the Mexican government in a collaborative framework of education and action. Intensive field- and classroom-based learning will provide foundational teachings on biodiversity and how to conduct a research project from beginning to end. These actions can further land management practices that conserve the priceless natural heritage of the Gulf of California as well as address the needs of the ever-developing Comcaac society.
Contact person: Benjamin Wilder
Visiting Scholar, Dirzo Lab, Stanford University | Winter 2014 – Fall 2015
Research Scientist, University of Arizona | Fall 2015 – present
Images from the first course block, November 2015