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Tropical Program: Research in México
Tropical Program: Research in México

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Limpia Guerrero 2013 — BRI's first research study conducted under our Memorandum of Understanding with México’s federal environmental agency, the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC). Studies are scheduled to continue in 2015.

National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)

National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)




Spatio-temporal trends in mercury exposure to New York songbirds: Correlations with climate, habitat, and projecting future change (2020)

Bald eagle mercury exposure varies with region and site elevation in New York, USA. (2020)

Mercury Exposure in Songbird Communities within Sphagnum Bog and Upland Forest Ecosystems in the Adirondack Park (New York, USA) (2020)

México: A Partner for Conservation in Mesoamerica

Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, México is a world leader in terms of its biodiversity. Over the past several years, BRI has worked diligently to establish conservation partnerships in this megadiverse country, especially in the Yucatán Peninsula and along the Pacific coastline. 

The United Nations Environment Programme has designated México a “megadiverse” country, home to a majority of living species on Earth. With more than 200,000 species and its multitude of ecosystems – from urban parks, deserts, canyons, and grasslands to rainforests, coral reefs, and volcanic slopes – México represents an important international region into which BRI has expanded its scientific efforts.


An Important Collaboration

As the southernmost nation in North America, México represents an important collaborator for the United States for ecological studies, especially for research that examines the movement of environmental toxins into wildlife populations and across the landscape.

Formal Agreements

Since 2011, BRI has worked to establish formal agreements with key partnering organizations in México as essential groundwork for its long-term research interests in the country. These international agreements allow BRI to work in federally protected lands and waterways, to access the expertise of resident colleagues and professionals, and to utilize laboratories and other infrastructure near its study areas in México. These bilateral agreements provide a valuable contractual understanding among partners for a common goal of international conservation.

Agreements to date:
  • National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
February 2012: Letter of Intention to Collaborate
Spring 2014: Memorandum of Understanding pending

  • National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)
Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático
February 2012: Letter of Intention to Collaborate
June 2012: Memorandum of Understanding

  • Sustenta Soluciones S.A. de C.V. (Sustenta)
October 2013: Independent Contractor Agreement for State of Guerrero
Winter/Spring 2015: Independent Contractor Agreement pending for States of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas

Areas of Research Interest

The Yucatán Peninsula
  • Marine Pollution 
Due to its geographical location and strong regional currents, the eastern shoreline of the Yucatán Peninsula is impacted daily by plastics debris from all over the world, deposited by the tons in its fragile mangrove forests, coral reefs, and sandy shores. What are the ecological impacts of such pollution on wildlife and ecosystems throughout the region? What are viable solutions to this international problem? What role can policymakers play in long-term approaches to marine plastics pollution?

Learn more> Limpia Guerrero 2013 - BRI's Pilot Study of Environmental Contaminants in México

  • Mercury Connections
BRI is leading a tri-national synthesis of mercury cycling and biomagnification throughout western North America. Remote regions of México such as the Yucatán Peninsula, the Pacific coastline, Baja California, and the Sonora Desert may be monitored and evaluated as part of this synthesis. What is the source of mercury contamination in these locations? To what degree are humans, wildlife, and ecosystems affected by mercury in these areas? What international agreements may emerge from tri-national collaboration to study the pervasive issue of mercury contamination in the environment?

  • Climate Change Studies
BRI’s Tropical Program has proposed a comprehensive study of climate change modeling and heavy-metal contaminants for the region, given its natural precipitation gradient from north to south of arid to wet conditions. How is the uptake of heavy metals in living systems (from individual organisms to entire ecosystems) affected by human-accelerated climate change? What are the long-term implications of such pollution for México’s many ecosystems such as its mangrove forests, its tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, its deserts and xeric shrublands, and its lagoons and coral reefs?

The Pacific Coastline of México
In this region of high-density tourism, state and federal authorities have a growing concern about toxins in highly urbanized settings. BRI has worked with the State of Guerrero, which includes international tourist destinations such as Acapulco and Ixtapa, to study the impacts of several common environmental pollutants (i.e., marine plastics, mercury, and petroleum) on wildlife and humans. BRI will continue work in Guerrero and plans to expand its studies into neighboring states along the Pacific coast such as Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Affiliate Organizations

BRI’s partners and affiliates in México include federal and state agencies, foundations, nonprofits, and corporations that share BRI’s conservation mission. BRI’s growing network of affiliate organizations in México provides assistance, recommendations, technical expertise, and mutual collaboration for its investigations in a country with rich, irreplaceable biodiversity under increasing threat from human impacts. Partnerships between BRI and these organizations help provide common ground for solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

BRI partners and affiliates in México:
  • National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
  • National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)
  • Comisión Nacional Para El Conocimiento y Uso de La Biodiversidad (CONABIO
  • Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation 
  • Fondo Mexicano Para La Conservación de La Naturaleza, A.C. (FMCN)
  • Gobierno del Estado de Guerrero
  • Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and Environment 
  • Naturalia, A.C.
  • Reforestamos México, A.C.
  • Sustenta Soluciones S.A. de C.V.

Program Director

For more information about BRI’s work in México, please contact:
Dave Buck, Ph.D.
Tropical Program Director

H. Bruce Rinker, Ph.D.
Adjunct, México Projects

Photo Credits: Header photo of the Guerrero mountains © BRI-H. Bruce Rinker
Biodiversity Research Institute