Rosalinda Palomo-Ramos

Bolson tortoise

I was born in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Even though I grew up in a very populated city, my parents instilled in me the love of nature and we would frequently go hiking to nearby Samalayuca and neighboring natural parks. I have always been enamored by the desert landscape I grew up in and its fauna, specifically reptiles, so it was a no-brainer to choose Biology as my major when I went to College at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. As an undergraduate student, I did my social service and volunteer work with Leatherback and Olive Ridley sea turtles in Guerrero, Mexico. That was my first exposure to chelonians. I then went to graduate school at New Mexico State University and I obtained a scholarship from the Turner Endangered Species Fund to study a captive population of Bolson tortoises in New Mexico. I researched the dietary habits and nutritional requirements of this species. I spent two incredible summers at the Armendaris ranch collecting tortoise scats and observing many tortoise behaviors. Since then, I have been captivated by the Bolson tortoise and decided to continue research with this charismatic species. My current doctoral research is to locate prospective reintroduction sites at the Mapimí Bolson in northern Mexico. The variables that are used to characterize the tortoise habitat are slope, vegetation cover and soil type. Potential anthropogenic threats are also being recorded by interviewing the local people to learn more about harvesting and we will use this knowledge to develop awareness programs in the future. Additionally, scats are collected to determine tortoise diet. There is never a dull moment when it comes to studying the Bolson tortoise!