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Small mammal Red Listing with Texas A&M University

By 10th July 2024News

Texas A&M University is pleased to continue their involvement with the Small Mammal Specialist Group (SMSG) through the appointment of new members Maria Alejandra Hurtado Materon, a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program, and Dr Michelle Lawing, Associate Professor at Texas A&M in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology. They will work closely with Emeritus Professor Thomas Lacher (Co-Chair of the SMSG), as he will serve as advisor to the team while they focus on coordinating the next round of Red Listing for small mammals in the Americas.

Find out more about Michelle and Maria below:

Michelle and Maria

Maria Alejandra Hurtado Materon is a Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive current and historical biodiversity patterns. She uses an integrative approach that combines functional traits, biogeography, phylogenetic comparative methods, and modeling techniques. Additionally, she is developing a periodic table of niches for mammals. Since Spring 2024, Maria has been working as a research assistant in the TAMU-Red List Partnership.

A. Michelle Lawing is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology ( Her research is focused on how biodiversity responds to climate and environmental change and her approach involves interdisciplinary work at the nexus of conservation biology, ecology, evolution, and paleontology. She is particularly interested in functional traits of mammals and reptiles and how they are aligned with environments in the Anthropocene, Late Pleistocene, and throughout the Miocene to present.

The Texas A&M team will be involving undergraduate students in Red List assessing and drafting species updates before seeking input from species experts. Equally, this work will spread awareness of the Red List process and help to build new skills earlier in the training process of the conservation workforce. Undergraduate students at Texas A&M will have the opportunity to participate in assessments by joining a year-long Aggie Research Program and becoming certified Red List and Green Status assessors.

Maria Alejandra and the Texas A&M team have also been working to develop an R script to assist assessors in the mapping stages. This script includes tools for occurrence cleaning, map modification, and the calculation of AOO (Area of Occupancy) and EOO (Extent of Occurrence) metrics in accordance with IUCN requirements. Moreover, there are plans to explore a broader assessment process; we have started to work on select Green Status assessments through the help of the SMSG’s current intern, Salomé.

The SMSG is thrilled to have the Texas A&M team in place and look forward to bringing you more assessment updates.