Avian monitoring and research were initiated in 1992 at Rancho Sandoval in Campeche, Mexico, by biologists from the Branch of Migratory Birds Research, National Biological Service (formerly U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and PRONATURA Peninsula de Yucatan. This 8,000+ hectare property, located directly south of the Laguna de Terminos, consists of extensive areas of savanna and a mosaic of pastures and remnant, seasonally-inundated forests. Much of the land surrounding Rancho Sandoval has been deforested for cattle ranching and rice farming, and, recently, aquaculture and petroleum exploration have begun in the region. In February 1993, Fundacion Sandoval Caldera, A.C., was legally established in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, for the express purpose of managing Rancho Sandoval as a private nature reserve. (Click here for Picture of Chan Robbins presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Archibaldo Sandoval for allowing use of his ranch as a nature preserve and research site). Cattle ranching will be continued on a limited basis on a portion of the property to provide financial support for reserve operation and management. However, the reserve charter states that management activities will have as a priority the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity. (Click here for view of a mist net in a typical pasture site.)
Six 12-ha study plots were established on Rancho Sandoval in November 1992, three in seasonally inundated forest and three in adjacent pasture. (Click here for view of Chan Robbins, Deanna Dawson, and Mauro Berlanga banding birds on the Ranch). Birds have been sampled with mist nets and point counts on each of these plots at approximately bi-monthly intervals. A major objective of the research is to estimate habitat-specific survivorship and site fidelity of resident and overwintering migrant bird species. Other objectives are to document temporal and spatial variation in the distribution, abundance, and detectability of bird species, and to identify associated factors.