Conservation of Southern Tuco-tucos in Pampean dunes:creation of sanctuaries and threats alleviation

Rodrigo Calvo

The Southern Tuco-tuco, Ctenomy australis, is one of the most Endangered mammals from the Pampean grasslands in Argentina. This endemic and fossorial species is an ecosystem engineer, adapted to live only in coastal sandy grasslands. Tuco-tucos are declining due to habitat fragmentation by urbanization and exotic forestations; increased abundance of birds of prey related to exotic forestations and loss of sandy burrows by unregulated vehicle transit in dunes. Our goal is to ensure the long-term conservation of the Southern Tuco-Tuco. This means local communities are engaged in habitat protection and main subpopulations thriving in safe habitats. Our purpose is to increase the survival of four Tuco-tucos families of the two largest subpopulations in one year. To achieve this purpose, we plan to: (i) reduce predation by birds of prey, through remotion of perches from pine trees located next to sandy burrows; (ii) reduce mortality caused by vehicles through fencing and adding signs to 4 sandy burrows; (iii) improve habitat conditions within fenced sites by restoring habitat, and; (iv) raise awareness in local schools and engage students in habitat conservation. This project will walk the first steps towards the long-lasting conservation of this species.