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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 220528382

Assessing the distribution and habitat use of two poorly-known threatened fossorial mammal species hazarded by land-use changes

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 220528382) - Tuco-tuco cordobés - Awarded $5,000 on May 31, 2022

About focal species from Genus Ctenomys of Córdoba province, Argentina

Five species of tuco-tucos are currently considered in Córdoba province, however the taxonomy, like many aspects of the biology of this group, is complex and is under constant study and discussion, with species that have non-overlapping distributions and a wide distribution, and others that represent endemic species whose limits are often poorly defined, with only a few records. The species involved in this project represent these cases, being considered so far, endemisms from this province.

This species are distributed allopatrically, occupying different environments and apparently different geographical areas. In the western and northwestern lowlands , within the Arid Chaco ecoregion, inhabits Ctenomys bergi, while the other species of interest, C. osvaldoreigi, is found exclusively in the upper floor of the Sierras Grandes de Córdoba (>1700 msnm). This area is dominated by a mosaic of grasslands and granite rocky patches. In the northeast of the province there is another species C. rosendopascuali whose specific identity is not yet defined which is one of the reasons why it has not been categorized by international organizations.   

The tuco-tucos have a high specificity in habitat use, occupying environments with sandy, friable and permeable soils that in nature are generally arranged in the form of isolated patches. Because of this, the fact that they have specific life requirements, scarce dispersal and solitary habits, position them as species highly dependent on the quality of the environment they occupy, so that habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation due to land use changes represent their main threats.

This project aims to generate updated knowledge and tools to assist land management and disseminate its importance to society and decision-makers.

Main objectives of the project

* Assess the specific identity of the different populations through morphological and genetic analysis of individuals captured across the study area.

* Estimate the distribution range of each species using ecological niche modeling tools.

* Delineate core areas or areas of interest for the conservation for the focal species.

* Prepare material for information dissemination.

Project document