Research

Science is a number of steps:

  • Ask a question
  • Set up an experiment or an observational study
  • Analyze data
  • Draw conclusions
  • Publish the results (to be mulled over by the scientific community)

However, there is an extra step that many miss: making the knowledge gained from the study accessible to the public. I hope with this website I can make my research easy to understand and get excited about. It is super exciting! Traveling to Madagascar, waking up day after day in a rainforest, looking for lemurs, sitting for hours in an office attempting to analyze data, sitting for hours in a Panera Bread attempting to write up results, banging my head against the wall of R code and Bayesian statistics…

Uh, I digress. Science is fun! Each page below corresponds to sections in my research proposal, broken down into easily digestible chunks, written in laymen’s terms. Each page will give you insight into why this research is important, why you should care. Each page will have pictures, a glossary box (if necessary) and a link to the corresponding section in my research proposal, if you wanted to read how I originally wrote it, dryly, verbosely and in scientific terms. If you are feeling particularly bold, feel free to peruse my entire research proposal!

Fill Me In…: Every story needs some backstory. Why is Madagascar important? What is the big deal with cats being in the forest? Are these actual cats or some strange fossa/cat hybrid? This page will give you the backstory and answer all of those questions (and more)! Except for the last question; fossa and cats can’t hybridize. Though these cats aren’t your average alley cat…

Carnivores and Conservation: This was actually part of the introduction (Fill Me In) but I decided that this deserves its own page. How do carnivores help conservation? What do umbrellas have to do with anything? And why am I focusing on the fossa? Why not the cute little fanaloka, or the vontsiras? This page will explain in detail about surrogate species and how carnivores (and in this case, the fossa) might be able to help conserve biodiversity.

Akaiza (Where)? “Akaiza” means where in Malagasy. And this page will explain where this study occurs. Yes, in Madagascar, but more specifically, in Makira. Even more specifically, at these UTM coordinates: REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED…

All the Batteries: Yes, all the batteries. At least we don’t have to carry film any more. This page will give the down and dirty on one of our major ways of collecting data: camera trapping. And no, we are not standing in front of trees with Nikons and Canons clutched in our hands, waiting for animals to cross our paths. I have a Pentax.

Walk the Line: Because this project is mine, I walk the line…or at least a trail, searching for lemurs. And, if we are being specific, I’m not so much as walking as stumbling, tripping, falling… This page will get you up to date on our second major way of collecting data: lemur transects.

How Many Fossa in Makira? That is one of my major goals: to estimate the fossa population in Makira. This page will get into the nitty-gritty of estimating populations and identifying animals from camera trap data. Why do I want to do this? And how will I do this? Seriously, someone tell me how. I haven’t figured it out yet…

The Backup Dancers: Not everyone can be the star. This project started with the focus on carnivores, but camera traps take pictures of everything, even mice. And scientists hate letting good data go to waste. How are the mice being affected by habitat loss and the presence of cats? Or, maybe you like birds? How are the birds being affected by the presence of humans? Check out this page, we’ve got pictures of crested ibises dancing (they’re serious camera hogs)…

VIP List: What with all of the camera traps, and lemur surveys, and personal cameras, and eyes (we each have two of them), we’ve seen plenty of species at our sites. This page is a list of all the species we’ve seen. You know you want to see who is on the list…it’s the cream of the crop at Club Maki-Ra.

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