Rafael Alejandro Calzada Arciniega


Alejandro is an outstanding early-career researcher who combines the passion to learn and develop professionally with an active publication profile in the ecology and evolution of Mexican reptiles and amphibians, particularly salamanders. Currently based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Alejandro has worked on a variety of projects, including the captive breeding of the Granular salamander, conservation assessment for Mexican mole salamanders (genus Ambystoma) for the Mexican Commission for protected areas (CONANP), and the evolutionary relationships of Pseudoeurycea salamanders.

Alejandro’s Fellowship has enabled him to undertake an urgently needed assessment of the granular salamander population in order to determine what habitat traits are associated with the species’ presence, which will inform conservation efforts.

EDGE Project

Alejandro’s project is investigating the current distribution, range and population size of A.granulosum as well as the abiotic and biotic factors that are associated with its presence, with the overall aim that this information becomes part of a future conservation strategy for the granular salamander. This will help to quantitatively assess the effect of habitat loss and pollution on this species. To achieve this, Alejandro is:

  • Assessing the population, genetic structure and distribution of A.granulosum;
  • Using occupancy models to estimate colonization and extinction probabilities within the survey areas;
  • Communicating the resulting conservation recommendations by providing educational talks in key local communities.


  • Alejandro attended the Conservation Workshop of the Mexican Salamanders of the Genus Ambystoma during the Mexican Congress of Herpetology as an EDGE fellow to discuss his project.
  • Was invited to talk about his EDGE project to the amphibian conservation class at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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