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Introducing EDGE fellow: Karla Pelz Serrano

By on January 21, 2014 in EDGE Fellows, Amphibians, ZSL

I am Karla Pelz Serrrano, I am a conservation biologist that works in Mexico. Particularly now I am working in central Mexico in the restoration and recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.  I am working in the restoration project of the remnant of what was once the largest wetland in central Mexico. This is still the habitat of many endemic species such as the Lake Lerma Salamander.  Therefore, I am working on research projects to evaluate the conservation status of some species of the wetland to generate Conservation Action Plans to ensure the survival of the species. Furthermore, another research interest to me is conservation genetics, I use this as a tool to assess the conservation status of endangered species and I am applying this to my research projects in the wetlands. I am also working in another very interesting protected area in central Mexico, the volcano “Nevado de Toluca”, here I am also working in the recovery of endangered endemic species such as the volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi).

For my EDGE fellowship I will be working on the development of the conservation strategy for Lake Lerma Salamander (Ambystoma lermense). In Mexico we call this salamander Axolotl because for Aztec people this animal represented a God that could live in both water and land in order to avoid death.

This salamander is unique in the world! Only lives in the wetlands of Lerma in the Toluca Valley in Central Mexico. Unfortunately its habitat has been degraded in the last 100 years and now there is only a small portion left of what once was the largest wetland in central Mexico. This is in part why this species of salamander is considered an EDGE species.

The other reason why this is an EDGE species is its unique evolutionary characteristics. This type of salamander is super interesting. Lerma Axolotls have the amazing ability of regenerate tissue. When they get injured for fighting with each other or by a predator, they regenerate parts of their skin, a toe and even a whole limb!