Who are the Protectors of the Sky Islands?

After completing the internship program with us, Inés Griego Montaño and Miguel Enriquez Galaz took the initiative and leadership of forming their own student club at Unisierra called Protectores de la Sierra (Protectors of the Sky Islands). Inés and Miguel inspired their fellow students to come together and form a group that could self-organize and lead trips into natural areas to document the animals, plants, and insects in the area.

This past October, Protectores de la Sierra self-organized two bioblitzes, which are events where a group of people explore a natural area and document any living organisms they see by uploading photographs to an online citizen science platform called iNaturalist. While the bioblitzes were organized by the student group, they also invited the community at large and ensured that this event was accessible to anyone who wanted to participate.

With the leadership of Inés and Miguel, the group of Protectors of the Sierra organized their first bioblitz on the Unisierra Trail. This trail is described by the promoter, founder, designer, and coordinator of the Intercultural Ecotechnology Park Project (PEI), Professor Héctor Tecumshé Mojica Zárate, as a project that “is aimed as a nearby option and within the grasp of the university’s biology program as a spatial – territorial instrument, always available for the development of theoretical – practical classes, also to reinforce the technical part of the subjects of arthropod zoology, vertebrate zoology, edaphology and hydrology and those related to the rest of the biological subjects, environmental studies and sustainability.” Since Unisierra is located right next to the Bavispe Flora and Fauna Protection Area (APFF), the diversity of life that visits the Unisierra Trail is amazing! A perfect site for a bioblitz!

The second bioblitz was hosted in Tepache, Sonora, a town 26 miles south of Moctezuma. This time the group walked along the Ojito wash near the site where the old town of Tepache used to be located. 




Inés and Miguel showed exceptional leadership by convening a group of their fellow students and forming the Protectores de la Sierra club. The student members of this club all showed incredible initiative and determination by self-organizing and obtaining the resources necessary to not only participate themselves, but make the event accessible to community members. Unisierra’s faith in this student group was evident through the transportation support they provided for the students, as well as the academic support from faculty. As for our part, Sky Island Alliance provided field guides on birds, mammals, insects, butterflies, amphibians and reptiles, and binoculars for the group. However, the true recognition goes to Ines, Miguel and all the student members of Protectores de la Sierra

Protectores de la Sierra at the bioblitz in Tepache, Sonora

We look forward to working more with this inspiring student group in the future!