Contribution starting at $1,995
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
7 days (avg. $285 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Conserving Wetlands and Traditional Agriculture in Mexico

Location
Xochimilco, Mexico Map it
Activity Level
Easy
Accommodations
Couples Rooms possible
House
Internet access
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Research site in Xochimilco, Mexico (C) Diana Eddows
Earthwatch volunteers paddle to a research site (C) Blaise Fairfax
Earthwatch volunteers collect samples (C) Allen Au
Earthwatch volunteers measure a sample plot (C) Allen Au
Earthwatch volunteers monitor a wetland (C) Elsa Valiente Riveros
Earthwatch volunteers work in a garden plot (C) Earthwatch
A wetland in Xochimilco, Mexico (C) Allen Au
Research site in Xochimilco, Mexico (C) Diana Eddows
Earthwatch volunteers paddle to a research site (C) Blaise Fairfax
Earthwatch volunteers collect samples (C) Allen Au
Earthwatch volunteers measure a sample plot (C) Allen Au
Earthwatch volunteers monitor a wetland (C) Elsa Valiente Riveros
Earthwatch volunteers work in a garden plot (C) Earthwatch
A wetland in Xochimilco, Mexico (C) Allen Au

Assist researchers in collecting data on water quality and land use in an ancient agricultural ecosystem within the lush wetlands of Xochimilco.


Earthwatch volunteers collect data

The Xochimilco wetlands, located just south of Mexico City, help to filter water, regulate weather, buffer against storms, support clean air, and protect native species of flora and fauna in Mexico City and neighboring regions. This water system also forms a unique ecosystem for aquatic species, including native species such as the Mexican axolotl salamander and the acocil crayfish, as well as over 140 species of migrating birds.

But these wetlands are being threatened by changing agricultural practices, which have turned from traditional small scale farming (a practice that has been around for at least six centuries) to environmentally-intensive agriculture. Not only that, the introduction of exotic species such as carp and tilapia has altered the natural food chain, threatening endemic species. Conservation of native plants and animals in Xochimilco is strongly linked to the preservation of its wetlands as well as “chinampas” - areas of dry land within the wetlands that support traditional agriculture.

Researchers are looking to understand how land use, agricultural techniques, and seasonality affect the conditions around the chinampas. You’ll help to gather critical data on the presence of endemic species and water and soil quality around the chinampas. This data will be used to increase local awareness of the benefits of traditional agriculture and subsequently, improve ecosystem health.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival and introductions
  • Days 2-5: Water quality and biodiversity sampling on large canoes, visit to local farms for soil quality sampling, collect water quality data
  • Day 6: Research wrap-up and recreation day
  • Day 7: Departure

HOW YOU WILL HELP

When you arrive, the researchers will provide you with information on studying water quality in the wetlands of Xochimilco. Field work will begin on Day 1 where you will:
Volunteers collect water quality data (C) Carly Toyzan
Collect water quality data

Using large or small canoes or “canoas,” you will visit various sites to collect samples of canal water and invertebrates. In the floating laboratory, you will test for the presence of heavy metals, bacteria, and nutrients in these water samples.

Volunteers study local sustainable agriculture practices (C) Carly Toyzan
Study local agriculture practices

By visiting local farms, you will be exposed to a variety of techniques, which have different impacts on crops and the environment. You will collect soil samples from farms to study some of the impacts.

Volunteers sample for endemic species (C) Carly Toyzan
Sample for endemic species

The axolotl is a salamander endemic to Xochimilco that is in danger of extinction. You will help scientists sample new areas where the salamander may be present.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

5 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Regina Anavy | August 27, 2018
I am 75 years old and needed an expedition that was “easy” and didn’t involve long hikes. I am usually more interested in animal studies, but learning about this area of Mexico City was appealing. I ended up really loving this project and was sad to leave. In addition to the work, which involves preparing soil and water samples for the lab (all new to me), the exploration of the history of the Chinampas and the conservation issues are fascinating, and I developed a new interest in salamanders. I never knew there were so many green areas in Mexico City! We had time to tour an archaeological site and visit the botanical garden at the University, and to go to Coyoacán on the last day. I got a ticket to visit the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul Museum (get it online in advance). The food was wonderful, the Casa Xitla is beautiful (small rooms: used to be a convent), and the thunderstorms at night gave me a cozy feeling. The staff is wonderful and helpful.
Gilbert Schweser | September 26, 2016
This was my 26th Earthwatch project and one of the best. The team leaders were knowledgeable, personable and spoke great English. Mexico City turned out to be a great place. Since the projects were in the city we got a taste is city life and traffic. I felt safe at all times. The farmers we worked with were truly dedicated to improving their environment and water quality. I learned more about the need for sustainability in my week on this project than years of reading about it. We did water testing, helped build proto type water cleansing systems, soil testing in sample plots trying to reduce salinity. We also discussed with farmers their problems. These included 1. An organic cactus farmer, 2. A flower farmer and 3. a vegetable producer. All great people willing to share their problems with us. The list goes on and on ... I also loved Xochimilco where the chinampas (the old Aztec lake bed garden) ... worth the trip alone. Also our water quality tests to help out the axolotl (Salamander) was interesting, as was the visit to the National University of Mexico to visit the research station studying them. In conclusion, don't miss this project.

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