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I am a biological anthropology Ph.D. candidate focusing on landscape genetics and spatial ecology in the lemurs of Madagascar. My research aims to understand how the past, present, and future spatial composition of the landscape influences the functional connectivity of habitat. Furthermore, I am interested in quantify past and present habitat change and evaluating the impacts of this has on lemur movement behavior. I am using traditional field work, genetic techniques, and remote sensing in order to address my research questions. I currently work in the Ranomafana region of Madagascar and all genetic analyses are being conducted in the Primate Molecular Ecology Lab at Hunter College under my advisor Dr. Andrea Baden.
Population and Landscape Genetics
Madagascar is considered one of the world's conservation priorities due to it's high levels of biodiversity and endemism in conjunction with intensive habitat loss and degradation. Lemurs (which are found only on the island continent) have recently been categorized as the world's most endangered mammalian group, with 90% of of the 103 identified species categorized as at least Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
One component of my current research project is a landscape genetic analysis of black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) in the Ranomafana region in southeastern Madagascar. My project aims to identify the landscape features that drive or hinder gene flow at a fine scale in order to understand how natural features and anthropogenic land use influence ruffed lemur dispersal across the region.
Figure 1. Map of study sites within Ranomafana region.
Forest Loss and Modification
Figure 2. Forest loss (red) and gain (blue) in the
Ranomafana-Andringitra corridor from
Like much of Madagascar, the Ranomafana region in the southeast has been subject to extensive anthropogenic pressures leading to widespread forest degradation and fragmentation (Ramiadantsoa et al. 2015; Vieilledent et al. 2018). Additionally, activities such as selective logging and mining within the remaining forest have lead to significant structural changes and modified ecosystems (e.g. Balko 1998).
Currently I am utilizing both traditional botanical assessments as well as remote sensing technologies to evaluate regional habitat change in the Ranomafana-Andringitra corridor and within Ranomafana National Park (RNP). I am utilizing three decades of Landsat imagery to assess forest loss across the region, and will be employing drones within RNP to quantify three-dimensional differences in forest structure at sites subject to differing levels of selective logging.
Figure 3. Example of three-dimension forest model.