Mexico is one of the richest countries in terms of biological diversity. Its Flora and fauna include around 30 000 plant species, 500 species of mammals, 1000 species of birds and thousands of species of other vertebrates and invertebrates. A great percentage of these species are endemic, that is they can only be found in Mexico. At the same time, Mexico suffers a profound ecological crisis caused mainly by the adopt ion of a development model based on a capitalist rationality. This has caused the destruction of forest and jungles (around 500 000 hectares annually): the erosion of soils in more than 40% of the country land; the overexploitation of watersheds; the pollution of the main basins and the extinction of hundreds of animal and plant species.

Although scientific research in ecology is still scarce in Mexico, there are many institutions all around the country. The Ecology Centre of the National University of Mexico is a very important one. Research is carried out in fields like: ecophysiology, community and ecosystem ecology, theoretical ecology, genetics and evolution, ecology of mammals and other vertebrates, behavioral ecology, human ecology and conservation and management of natural resources.

The Ecology Centre has a relevant role to play in the dissemination of ecological information. In October 1989 the Centre started a Communication Programme. Within the programme, a newsletter is published every two months. 5000 issues of this newsletter are printed and they are distributed within the university community and among the media personnel and the environmental organizations. At the same time, events are organized to promote a better communication between the media and the scientific community. A first seminar on "Ecology for Communication" was organized last September in which ecologists and other professionals talked with the mass media people. Also, a glossary of ecological terminology, a bibliography and a directory of institutions and groups involved in the analysis of environmental problems were prepared for the participants to the seminar.

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Ecology and communication in Mexico

Alicia Castillo   Ecology Centre, National University of Mexico

Mexico is one of the richest countries in terms of biological diversity. Its Flora and fauna include around 30 000 plant species, 500 species of mammals, 1000 species of birds and thousands of species of other vertebrates and invertebrates. A great percentage of these species are endemic, that is they can only be found in Mexico. At the same time, Mexico suffers a profound ecological crisis caused mainly by the adopt ion of a development model based on a capitalist rationality. This has caused the destruction of forest and jungles (around 500 000 hectares annually): the erosion of soils in more than 40% of the country land; the overexploitation of watersheds; the pollution of the main basins and the extinction of hundreds of animal and plant species.

Although scientific research in ecology is still scarce in Mexico, there are many institutions all around the country. The Ecology Centre of the National University of Mexico is a very important one. Research is carried out in fields like: ecophysiology, community and ecosystem ecology, theoretical ecology, genetics and evolution, ecology of mammals and other vertebrates, behavioral ecology, human ecology and conservation and management of natural resources.

The Ecology Centre has a relevant role to play in the dissemination of ecological information. In October 1989 the Centre started a Communication Programme. Within the programme, a newsletter is published every two months. 5000 issues of this newsletter are printed and they are distributed within the university community and among the media personnel and the environmental organizations. At the same time, events are organized to promote a better communication between the media and the scientific community. A first seminar on "Ecology for Communication" was organized last September in which ecologists and other professionals talked with the mass media people. Also, a glossary of ecological terminology, a bibliography and a directory of institutions and groups involved in the analysis of environmental problems were prepared for the participants to the seminar.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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