2010 Legacy Scholarship Applicants

Image: Joe Figel

Joe Figel

Anthony Giordano

Anthony Giordano

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2010 Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship Recipients

Joe Figel (jj.figel@knights.ucf.edu), PhD candidate, Conservation Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando
Advisor: Dr. Reed Noss (rnoss@mail.ucf.edu)
Objective: To study jaguar ecology in fragmented Neotropical landscapes, with an emphasis on corridor design in agricultural areas. The research is expected to provide insight into how lands outside protected areas can be better managed to support the conservation of big cats and their prey. Use of funds: To pay the salary for a local field assistant in the San Blas municipality. The assistant will place and monitor camera traps, walk transects, and serve as a jaguar conservation liaison among local communities.
Anthony Giordano (species1@hotmail.com), PhD candidate, Texas Tech University, Lubbock
Advisor: Dr Warren Ballard
Dissertation topic: The status, population structure, and livestock depredation of jaguars in the Paraguayan Chaco.
Objectives: To determine the population size and density of jaguars in the region of Paraguay's largest protected area; to describe the gene flow and population structure of jaguars in the Paraguayan Chaco, and to evaluate the impact of livestock depredations by jaguars on private land surrounding Paraguay's largest protected area.
Expected completion: December 2010

Other Scholarship Applicants

Gustavo Castro‐Pienador (yaguarcr@gmail.com), MS candidate, Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica
Thesis topic: Use of the Barbilla Biological Corridor, Costa Rica, by Jaguars.Objectives: 1) Evaluate the use of a biological corridor by the jaguar and its prey. Occurrence of animals in different sectors of the study area will be estimated using direct (camera traps and field observations) and indirect (trace detection) methods, 2) Identify characteristics of the corridor at a habitat level, and 3) Identify characteristics of the corridor at a landscape level. The BBC is a region of great importance for its habitat connectivity between the Central Volcanic Mountain Range and the Talamanca Mountain range in Costa Rica. The fragility of this union is of great concern because if the connection is lost, the populations of jaguars in southern Costa Rica and Panama would be isolated from those found north.

Derek Broman (djd68@unh.ed). MS candidate, University of New Hampshire
Advisor: Dr. John A. Litvaitis
Thesis topic: Understanding bobcats in the granite state.
Objectives: In the past 10‐15 years, increased sightings and captures suggest that bobcats are becoming more abundant in New Hampshire. The extent of this population increase is not known, but it does seem likely that bobcats have responded to 20 years of protection. With an apparent increase in abundance there is also renewed interest among many outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts. As a result, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has teamed up with faculty at UNH to conduct a four‐year study that will examine the abundance of bobcats and how their abundance and distribution may compare to adjacent states.
Expected completion: 2011.

Mike Cove (m.cove@gmail.com), PhD candidate, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg
Advisor: Dr. Vicki Jackson (vjackson@ucmo.edu)
Objectives: My interests are focused on examining the ecology of ocelots and other small cats and their potential mesopredator release in the absence of jaguars and pumas which are still hunted and extirpated in portions of the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, Costa Rica. I will be meeting with my research mentor (Dr. Manuel Spinola, Universidad Nacional) and Eduardo Carrillo of the Instituto Internacional en Conservacion y Manejo de Vida Silvestre to discuss the opportunity of exploring the use of scat detector dogs to monitor jaguars and sympatric felids in the corridor for my PhD dissertation.
Abby Davis (abbyd08@gmail.com), MS candidate, Stephen F Austin University, Nacogdoches, Texas
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Comer
Thesis topic: Comparing infrared–triggered camera surveys with scat–based DNA surveys to measure abundance of bobcats and coyotes at two private landholdings near Nacogdoches, TX.
Objectives: Accurately estimate population abundance of bobcats and coyotes in east Texas; utilize remote sensing cameras to identify individuals; analyze DNA from scat samples to identify individuals.
Expected completion: December 2010.
Laurel Klein (Laurelklein@ucla.edu), PhD candidate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
Advisors: Robert Wayne (rwayne@biology.ucla.edu) and Seth Riley (seth_riley@nps.gov)
Dissertation topic: How urbanization impacts the physiological health and disease susceptibility of bobcats near an urban landscape.
Objectives: To measure genetic diversity, disease exposure, toxicant exposure and general health parameters in populations of bobcats in an urban, fragmented landscape. Within my study area [near Los Angeles], the number one source of mortality for bobcats is a disease outbreak of a rare mange mite. Bobcats there are also exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides and have reduced gene flow between populations separated by major freeways. Each factor is common to wildlife populations near urban landscapes worldwide and can increase the disease susceptibility of these populations. For bobcats, these consequences may contribute to their susceptibility to a rare and typically benign parasite, seriously threatening their populations.
Jennifer M. Korn (jenmariekorn@gmail.com), PhD candidate, Texas A&M University‐Kingsville. Advisor: Dr. Michael Tewes (michael.tewes@tamuk.edu)
Dissertation topic: Spatial and genetic patterns of ocelots in a fragmented landscape.
Objectives: Estimate current spatial ecology of two isolated populations of ocelots through radio telemetry and camera trapping, as well as creating a genetic pedigree of current and past individuals. This information will be invaluable to future translocation efforts to move ocelots from northern Mexico to Texas and to track their genetic contribution to the population.
Expected completion: August 2012
José Bernardo Mesa-Cruz (bmesa@vt.edu), MS candidate, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
Advisor: Dr. Marcella Kelly (makelly2@vt.edu)
Thesis topic: Assessment of anthropogenic impacts on Belizean jaguars through non‐invasive glucocorticoid hormone analysis. Objective: Detecting changes in stress‐related hormones through noninvasive fecal monitoring to evaluate the effects of different degrees of anthropogenic disturbance and human‐jaguar conflict. “Knowing that humans are the main threat for wild cats, it is of great importance for me to evaluate anthropogenic impacts on felids. Conservation efforts are not strong enough in my native Colombia. I believe my background in health and reproductive physiology will broaden the perspective of felid conservation programs providing a more holistic approach to conservation.”
Expected completion: 2011
Fernando Nájera Muñoz (nanonaj@hotmail.com), PhD candidate, Veterinary College, University Complutense of Madrid
Advisor: Luis Revuelta. BSc, PhD. Professor of Animal Physiology (lrevuelt@vet.ucm.es)
Objectives: contribute in the conservation management and the ecological study of 5 small cat species in Borneo.
Paul A. Schuette (schuette@montana.edu), Ph.D. candidate, Montana State University, Bozeman
Advisor: Dr. Scott Creel (screel@montana.edu)
Dissertation topic: Predator‐prey dynamics, carnivore community ecology, and human‐carnivore interactions across a shared landscape: Insight from Olkiramatian and Shompole Group Ranches in the southern Rift Valley of Kenya.
Objective: The nomadic Maasai people and their livestock have coexisted with wildlife, including lions, leopards, and cheetahs, for centuries. However, widespread and rapid subdivision of Kenya's open rangelands for permanent settlements and crop production threaten Maasai traditions, livelihoods, and many wildlife‐rich ecosystems. In attempt to prevent a similar fate in the southern Rift Valley of Kenya, the Olkiramatian and Shompole Maasai have partnered with the African Conservation Centre (ACC) and the South Rift Association of Landowners to implement community‐based conservation and development programs. In 2006, Dr. Creel and I partnered with Dr. David Western (ACC), Samantha Russell (ACC), and local Maasai to conduct ecological surveys on Olkiramatian and Shompole with a goal of understanding how this coupled human‐wildlife ecosystem functions, and providing information to guide future land management and conservation decisions. Dr. Creel and I lead efforts to examine carnivore community ecology, predator‐prey dynamics, and human‐carnivore interactions.
Barbara C. Shock (bshock@uga.edu), MS program completion August 2010; PhD Candidate starting Fall 2010, University of Georgia, Athens
Advisor (MS): Dr. Michael Yabsley (myabsley@uga.edu)
Objective: My thesis work has focused on characterizing the tick‐transmitted hemoparasite Cytauxzoon felis found in bobcats and cougars in the United States. To this end, I have collected over one thousand samples from wild felids from fifteen different states. It was partly this project, working with and learning about wild felids that led me to choose my current career path. I realized that I am not only interested in the diseases affecting wildlife, but about the treatment and management of the animals themselves. Recently I developed a proposal to test my samples for Bartonella and Mycoplasma spp., two important bacterial pathogens of felids worldwide. Although both of these species of bacterial infections are quite common and well described in domestic cats, there are few reports describing their distribution and prevalence within wild felids. We are also developing a genetics project to determine if certain subspecies of bobcats are more susceptible to our diseases of interest. We would also like to genetically characterize our bobcat samples to add to the current knowledge of bobcats in the United States.

[To see the profiles of the 2009 awardees and applicants, go here.]

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