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miércoles, 28 de julio 2021
28/07/2021
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A Guide to Know and Protect UdeA's Mammals

By: Julián David Ospina Sánchez-Journalist

The Illustrated Guide to Universidad de Antioquia’s Mammals documents city spaces such as Ciudad Universitaria (University Campus) and the Robledo campus, habitats that are home to wildlife that must be protected. The guide is a byproduct of Biology student Ana María Ávila’s dissertation.

 

 

Possum. Illustration: Ana Cristina Pareja.

The idea of documenting how many and which are the species of wild mammals that inhabit Universidad de Antioquia’s main and Robledo campus was born a little over a year ago in a conversation between Iván Darío Soto Calderón, professor of the Institute of Biology, and Ana María Ávila García, undergraduate student. This spontaneous meeting made it clear that, although there was a lot of talk about the subject, there was no research with concrete data that promoted the correct interrelationship between the community and these animals.

Sergio Solari Torre, biologist from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Lima and professor at Universidad de Antioquia, began the bibliographic review with the student. They prepared a preliminary list of the mammals that had been reported at the two campuses after studying national and institutional databases.

In the meantime, Soto Calderón presented the project before the university, Área Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá and CORNARE, which agreed to join forces to make the project viable.

Ana María followed the advice of her professors and decided that her degree project to become a biologist would be to build the Illustrated Guide to Universidad de Antioquia’s Mammals. It would feature clear information and graphic support that would make it attractive and easy to consult. "In addition, we had the premise that all the material would be used to improve the human relationship with these species through respect".

Given the pandemic contingencies, two mist nets, some nets imperceptible to bats and supported by two-meter-high rods and two camera traps sensitive to movement and heat were installed for the fieldwork.

"Beyond good intentions, knowledge is fundamental to make the right decisions about how to relate to our fauna and flora", said Professor Iván Darío Soto Calderón.

There are 528 species of mammals in Colombia, according to the Colombian Society of Mammalogy. Twelve of these species were identified in the selected areas of the university: eight kinds of bats, the white-footed tamarin, the possum, the crab-eating fox and the squirrel. Rats and mice were not included because they are considered pests. 

The guide, of which 550 copies have been printed, collected the fundamental information on these 12 species: feeding, times of activity, physical description, natural history, conservation status and color illustrations of each one of them. It also included a QR code that takes readers to a site where they can expand their knowledge.

It is a step towards establishing a proper relationship with this wildlife that has colonized the spaces of Universidad de Antioquia and putting an end to many myths about mammals such as bats and possums. "Whoever owns the guide understands that these animals should not be given food because it alters their metabolism. They also understand that these animals should be watched without invading their space because they tend to defend themselves, and finally, that they are not pets to be petted because they are possible transmitters of diseases”, concluded Professor Solari Torres.

The Guide identifies three basic characteristics of mammals:

  • The presence of hair, although not all of them have it in the adult stage.

  • The presence of mammary glands to feed their young.

  • The evolution of their cranial and dental structures to survive.

 

Possum

Scientific name: Didelphis marsupialis

Habitat: Although they are nomadic, they currently have burrows in Ciudad Universitaria and the Robledo campus.

Morphology: Medium to large. They weigh between 565 and 1,960 grams. Females have a permanent marsupium, and the species, in general, has a tail longer than the head and body combined. it is used to cling to tree branches and transport vegetables.

Feeding: They are omnivorous, control invertebrate populations, and their consumption of fruit suggests that they may be seed dispersers.

 

White-Footed Tamarin

Scientific name: Saginus leucopus

Habitat: They have diurnal activity and are easily spotted in Ciudad Universitaria, although they move nimbly from tree to tree by jumping up to 4 meters. They are one of the few primates that can remain in habitats disturbed by humans.

Morphology: Individuals of this species weigh between 350 and 500 grams, have a bare face framed with white hair, brown head and neck and a tail longer than the body.

Feeding: They are omnivorous.

Pallas’s Long-Tongued Bat

Scientific name: Glossophaga soricina

Habitat: Their activity is nocturnal. During the day, they take refuge on the roofs of classrooms and other structures in colonies of 4 to 20 individuals, both in Robledo and Ciudad Universitaria.

Morphology: It is a small species. The length of the forearm is between 31 and 40 millimeters. It has large eyes, round-tipped ears and a long, narrow tongue.

Feeding: Their main source of food is nectar, but they may consume pollen, fruit and small insects near the flowers.

Crab-Eating Fox

Scientific name: Cerdocyon thous

Habitat: The first individuals of this species were sighted at the Robledo campus, but after the publication of the guide, it was found that they are also present in Ciudad Universitaria. They are found in varied ecosystems such as forests, savannahs and peri-urban areas.

Morphology: They are medium-sized canids that weigh between 4,000 and 7,000 grams.

Feeding: They are nocturnal and opportunistic hunters. They eat small vertebrates, invertebrates and fruits.

Read the complete guide here.

 
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