On my visit to the lab of Dr. James Herrera I found Ayesha and Olivia preparing to dive back into their mentor’s (many) field notebooks to digitize trap data on rodents and mouse lemurs, data collected by James when a PhD student in Madagascar. Mind you, James has already successfully completed his doctorate on the evolutionary ecology of lemurs, but seems to have enough unanalyzed data in his field notebooks for a second dissertation!
Ayesha and Olivia - joined by SRMP alumni Allison (Class of 2014) and Alejandro (Class of 2013- are chipping away at the data entry. (Apparently they are also learning a little Malagasy along the way as they translate data collected in the native language of Madagascar). The team will be using this data to investigate the impact of human disturbance on species richness (# of species in an area) and morphology (e.g. tail length, color, body size).
All too familiar issues such as deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, and climate change threatens much of this biodiversity. Ecological research such as that being conducted by James and his crew provides vital information for conservation practitioners who work to predict and minimize the impact of humans on wildlife and it’s habitat.