2016 Small Grant Awardees
Awardee: Adham Ashton-Butt, University of Southampton, Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
Project: “Quantifying the importance of forest for the provisioning of avian pest-control ecosystem services and avian biodiversity in a forest/oil palm agricultural matrix”
Summary: This project will seek to investigate how deforestation for planting of oil palm plantations affects bird populations in Malaysia. Their theory is that leaving forest intact around oil palm plantations will actually help the plantations be more productive and support bird populations. Bird species eat many of the pests that damage the crops and need intact forest to survive. It is an interesting case of coexistence of agriculture and native forest.
Awardee: Christine Light, Turtle Conservancy, Sulawesi Program, New York, New York
Project: “Conservation of the endemic chelonians of Sulawesi: Forsten’s tortoise and Sulawesi forest turtle”
Summary: This project aims to initiate a long-term species monitoring program for the only two endemic turtle species of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Both species are threatened with extinction due to severe deforestation and unsustainable collection for the pet and bushmeat trades. Researchers will determine where the turtles are found and work towards conservation efforts to protect the remaining populations and their habitat.
Awardee: Denise Thompson, Department of Integrative Biology, Oklahoma State University
Project: “The influence of behavior, physiology and genomics on the reproductive success of Alligator snapping turtles”
Summary: This project will study the effects of behavior, physiology and genetics on reproductive success of Alligator snapping turtles in Oklahoma. This species is part of a head start program to restore wild, native populations. By increasing reproductive success in these animals, more hatchlings can be released to bolster native populations.
Awardee: Zoe Muller, Giraffe Research and Conservation Trust, Nairobi, Kenya
Project: “Understanding the social organization and behavior of giraffes to contribute to conservation planning in-situ and improve the welfare of giraffes in captive collections ex-situ”
Summary: Researchers are studying the social structure and behavior of wild giraffes in order to select the best individuals of a group for translocation to other conservation areas. Giraffes are under severe pressure from habitat loss and current populations are reaching carrying capacity of the land available. By translocating groups of individuals to other areas with suitable habitat, the giraffe population as a whole can continue to grow. The success of any translocation event hinges on selection of ideal candidates based on social structure and behavior.
Awardee: Ken McCravey, Western Illinois University, Department of Biology
Project: “Saving the night for Honduras’ bats, moths and beetles”
Summary: Researchers are working to study pollinator species that are active at night and critical to the health of neo-tropical dry forests. By learning more about these species, crucial habitat can be protected and augmented. Researchers will also work with local communities to help reduce noise and light pollution to reduce disturbances to these species.