As a sophomore undergraduate in the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences department, my studies are focused on vertebrate zoology. Although I am seeking a future in veterinary medicine, I have a passion for conservation and preservation of the Earth’s fauna. This stemmed from a high school summer internship with Attwater Prairie Chicken National Refuge in Eagle Lake, TX. This opportunity made me realize how anthropogenic impacts affect populations of organisms, potentially increasing their risk of extinction.
In 2016, I joined the Texas A&M International Union of Conservation Nature (IUCN) Red List assessment team with Dr. Thomas Lacher, who serves as the Texas A&M representative of the IUCN Red List Partnership. The IUCN Red List of threatened species is a global database of described species and an evaluation of their extinction risk and conservation status. Assessments of extinction risk are made based on a series of criteria focused on species taxonomy, species distribution, habitat, population size, and current threats. Texas A&M assists in the assessments for the small mammal species of the Americas (~1500 species).
After contributing to over 50 species’ status assessments for the mammalian families, Soricidae and Cricetidae, through scholarly data mining for the 2016 Red List, my research now focuses on the implementation of the IUCN Red List data into national conservation and biodiversity policies. Working alongside Ph.D. student, Nikki Roach, and master’s student, Shelby McCay, we investigate the use of the IUCN Red List and National Red Lists in the Americas to understand how national governments implement policy pertaining to biodiversity.
In addition, we are examining the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plans (NBSAPs), which explain a country’s current conservation goals and biodiversity strategies. Both Shelby and I are screening NBSAPs and available National Red Lists, and evaluating them against a set of key criteria used to inform policy decisions. Questions we search for within each document pertain to the which species are mentioned in plans, Red List status, policy action plans outlined, and protected areas mentioned, amongst others. Our goal is to achieve a better understanding of how national governments’ implement IUCN Red List and how effective its exhibition will improve the status of species on the brink of survival.