Is deforestation creating variation in the fauna of Madagascar?
Whilst working as a Research Officer in Madagascar I couldn't help but notice the amount of deforestation that had occurred, and was still occurring, in the forest next to our base camp.
It was obvious from visual encounter surveys in primary, secondary, and degraded habitats that specialised fauna simply could not survive in the degraded forests. Deforestation affects so much of the local habitat that animals such as sportive lemurs, Uroplatus geckos, and many frog species could no longer survive there.
However, I noticed a species of dwarf chameleon, Brookesia stumpffi, that was often found in all three forest types. This got me wondering whether the populations of this chameleon living in the deforested areas varied in their roosting behaviour and their morphology. I conducted research aimed to find this out, and I found that the chameleons did differ in their roosting behaviour and morphology across the habitat types. Further research is now needed to determine if the populations in the degraded forest diverged to enable their survival.
Do camera traps collect enough data to help conserve rare mammals hidden deep in jungles?
The Amazon rainforest is the most diverse place on the planet. However, many of the species that exist in this rainforest are becoming increasingly threatened by deforestation, and yet we know so little about them. Many jungles, such as the Amazon, are remote and difficult to access, and so much in unknown about the natural behaviour of rarely seen large mammal species there, limiting our ability to conserve them.
As behavioural observations of large mammals can be time consuming and difficult in remote places, camera traps have been increasingly used to gather data. However, are camera traps becoming obsolete or are they still useful in conservation science?