Conservation of Endemic Mammals on Cozumel Island, Mexico

WHEREAS, the American Society of Mammalogists is concerned with the welfare of wild mammals worldwide, and strongly supports conservation of mammals and their responsible use based on sound scientific research; and

WHEREAS, the 7 mammal species that are endemic to Cozumel Island, Mexico — Cozumel opossum (Didelphis marsupialis cozumelae), Cozumel harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys spectabilis), Cozumel rice rat (Oryzomys couesi cozumelae), Cozumel deer mouse (Peromyscus leucopus cozumelae), pygmy raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus), dwarf coati (Nasua nelsoni) and pygmy collared peccary (Pecari tajacu nanus; Cuarón et al. 2004; Cuarón 2009; de Villa-Meza et al. in press; Gompper et al. 2006; McFadden 2004; McFadden et al. 2008; McFadden et al. 2010; Valenzuela 2005a, Valenzuela 2005b; Vega et al. 2007) — all face serious conservation threats and most are listed as threatened or endangered (Cuarón 2009; Cuarón et al. 2009; IUCN 2010; SEMARNAT 2002; and

WHEREAS, substantial natural vegetation occurs on Cozumel Island, with close to 90% of the island covered by semi-evergreen tropical forest, semi-deciduous tropical forest, mangrove forest, and other coastal vegetation (Cuarón 2009; Romero-Nájera 2004; Romero-Nájera et al. 2007); and

WHEREAS, results from trapping and other sampling efforts conducted on the island since 1994 have demonstrated that the population numbers of all Cozumel endemic mammals are extremely low and in decline, and that there is considerable spatial and temporal variation in abundance, making them exceptionally vulnerable to extirpation (Copa 2007; Cuarón et al. 2004; Cuarón et al. 2009; Fortes 2004; Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2009; García-Vasco 2005; Gutiérrez-Granados 2003; McFadden et al. 2010; Sotomayor 2009); and

WHEREAS, the long-term survival of endemic mammals of Cozumel is threatened by land-cover changes resulting from tourism and other development projects with substantial environmental impacts, in particular, the construction and widening of roads and other linear landscape features such as air strips and fire breaks, which cause habitat fragmentation and create edge effects, create barriers to movement, and facilitate the dispersal of exotic species (Barillas 2007; Bautista 2006; Cuarón et al. 2009; Fuentes-Montemayor et al. 2009; Perdomo 2006); and

WHEREAS, Cozumel endemic mammals are particularly vulnerable to predation by and competition with introduced species such as boas (Boa constrictor), feral dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats (Felis catus), house mice (Mus musculus), and rats (Rattus rattus), which are abundant and widespread on the island (Bautista, 2006; Cuarón et al. 2009; Martínez-Morales and Cuarón 1999; Romero-Nájera et al. 2007; Sotomayor 2009; Torres 2006); and

WHEREAS, endemic mammals on Cozumel are at increasing risk from introduced, non-native animals carrying pathogens and parasites such as canine hepatitis, canine distemper, feline panleukopenia toxoplasmosis, and leptospirosus from non-native animals (Cuarón et al. 2009; McFadden et al. 2005; Mena 2007; Sotomayor 2009); and

WHEREAS, Cozumel Island is recurrently affected by hurricanes, which are predicted to increase as a result of climate change (Cuarón 2009; Martínez-Morales 1996; Webster et al. 2005), and because hurricanes can reduce or alter habitat thereby having major negative effects on endemic mammals of Cozumel (Copa 2007; Cuarón et al. 2009; Martínez-Morales et al. 2009; Perdomo 2006; and

WHEREAS, the Ley General de Vida Silvestre (LGVS) provides complete legal protection to mangrove ecosystems in Mexico, while the NOM-022-SEMARNAT-2004 provides the legal opportunity for reforesting mangrove areas as a mitigating practice for projects that destroy mangrove areas, contravening the Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente (LGEEPA) and the Ley General de Vida Silvestre; and

WHEREAS, scientists, experts, and citizens participating in the Encuentro Nacional para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sustentable de las Islas de México (National Meeting for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Mexican Islands) held 23–26 June 2009 in Ensenada, Mexico, issued the Ensenada Declaration calling on Mexican Legislative Chambers, Municipal, State and Federal governments to undertake a series of critical and priority actions for the conservation and sustainable development of Mexican islands, including the establishment of new protected areas on Cozumel Island and new regulations for the eradication and control of exotic species on islands; and

WHEREAS, the Alliance for Zero Extinctión – México (AZE-México) met 8–11 June 2010 on Cozumel Island, Mexico, and issued the Cozumel Declaration urging Cozumel Municipal, Quintana Roo State, and Mexican Federal governments to expand and reinforce conservation efforts to protect the unique biota of Cozumel Island, also calling for the establishment of new protected areas and control of exotic species on the island; and

WHEREAS, the Mexican Society for the Study of Mammals (AMMAC) will meet 21–24 September 2010 in Guanajuato, Mexico, and intends to address the issue of the conservation of endemic mammals on Cozumel Island;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Society of Mammalogists, meeting at its 90th Annual Meeting at the University Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 11–15 June 2010; 1) urges the continued development of conservation plans and actions for the conservation of endemic mammals on Cozumel Island to ensure their long-term survival, 2) endorses the establishment of new protected areas, particularly on the terrestrial portion of Cozumel, and encourages municipal, state and federal governments, as well as other involved stakeholders, to complete the necessary work for the establishment of these protected areas as soon as possible, 3) supports the maintenance and strengthening of Ley General de Vida Silvestre to protect and conserve mangrove areas in Mexico, 4) congratulates the Mexican Federal Legislative Chambers for passing this important law, and 5) encourages that the Cozumel Municipal, Quintana Roo State, and Mexican Federal governments to expand their efforts in promoting sustainable development on Cozumel Island based on the protection and conservation of its unique mammalian fauna and other natural resources, to control and eradicate introduced species, and to support the efforts of academic and non-governmental organizations, and the people of Cozumel at large, to achieve this important goal.

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