Field school - Madagascar, Past and Present: Biodiversity, Extinction & Conservation
Madagascar has often been referred to as the “naturalist’s paradise.” Lemurs are the island’s flagship species. Approximately 98% of the land mammals found on this island are found nowhere else in the world, but these species must compete for space and resources with people who are themselves struggling to survive and to feed their families (80% of Malagasy people today live below the poverty line). Lemurs are forest-dependent, but few of Madagascar’s lemurs live more than a kilometer from the edge of a forest. The vast majority lives in forest fragments not far from villages or agricultural land.
Students will have a unique opportunity to learn practical skills for studying nonhuman primates in field environments – specifically to observe lemurs in continuous rainforests as well as fragmented or “disturbed” forests near villages or clear-cut agricultural fields. They will also have the opportunity to observe and handle the remains of recently extinct lemurs, and to learn how paleontologists glean from them an understanding of past environments and extinction processes. The emphasis of the course will be on the lemurs of Madagascar (past and present), how to better understand changes in biodiversity over time, and how to build conservation plans and prevent future extinctions through involvement at the local level. Locations for students’ research include Antananarivo, Parc Ivoloina, and Tsinjoarivo.
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