Madagascar Past and Present: Biodiversity, Extinction and Conservation
June 1 to June 30th 2013
The primary purpose of this program is to provide participants with the opportunity to learn first-hand about primate biodiversity, extinction, forest fragmentation and conservation in Madagascar, one of the world’s foremost biodiversity hotspots. The program will focus on building an experiential knowledge of:
Students and instructors will begin the field school in Antananarivo, where we will have an opportunity to hear guest lecturers and observe fossils of the giant extinct lemurs. From there, we will go on to briefly visit Parc Zoologique d’Ivoloina where students will observe captive and free-ranging lemurs (and practice data collection methodologies) as well as learning about local conservation initiatives. Third, we will travel to Tsinjoarivo where we will spend the majority of our trip.
Tsinjoarivo is a unique, high-altitude rainforest found at the escarpment dividing Madagascar’s central high plateau from its eastern lowlands.Tsinjoarivo is ideal for studies of forest fragmentation and disturbance because of the existence of an east-west fragmentation gradient over a distance of less than 15 kilometres. Here students will see the lemurs that have been studied for 12 years, and apply ecological and behavioral sampling techniques as they work on targeted brief research projects in the surrounding forests.
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Short-term Study Abroad
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Dr. Irwin has studied the ecology of living lemurs for more than 10 years, focusing on how habitat disturbance affects the ecology, behavior and health of individuals and populations. This work has included feeding ecology, nutrition, body mass and condition, and parasitology, mainly focusing on the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema).
Dr. Samonds is a paleontologist whose research integrates comparative anatomy, systematics, and biogeography with field paleontology to address topics in vertebrate evolution. Her paleontological field research aims to shed light on the origin and evolutionary history of Madagascar’s modern fauna, one of the most unique and endemic on the planet.
Dr. Mitchell Irwin
NIU Department of Anthropology
Dr. Karen Samonds
NIU Department of Biological Sciences