2016 Legacy Scholarship Applicants



Jennifer Feltner

Rekha Warrier

Rekha Warrier

Orlando Gallo

Orlando Gallo

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We present here the 3 recipients of the 2016 Legacy scholarships offered by the WFA, as well as profiles of all of the outstanding applicants for this year's scholarships. These profiles highlight some of the academic institutions, faculty, and students at the forefront of scientific investigation of wild felids today. We wish to thank all applicants for their interest in the WFA scholarships and for their dedication to furthering our understanding of wild felid ecology and conservation in the Western Hemisphere.

2016 Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship Recipients

- recipient of the "Deanna Dawn" Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship -
PhD candidate, North Carolina State University
Advisor:  Dr. L. Scott Mills, lsmills@ncsu.edu
DissertationIntra-guild competition and predator-prey dynamics following large carnivore recovery in a system with increasing human impacts.
Goal: to provide insights on some of the direct and indirect mechanisms by which recovering large carnivore populations (wolves and grizzly bears) impact mammal community dynamics through intra-guild competition and predation and to evaluate potential consequences for subordinate predators (cougars) and shared prey species (elk, bighorn sheep, moose and pronghorn antelope) in a system where anthropogenic factors also play strong roles in shaping dynamics. 

Expected completion: Spring 2019

PhD candidate, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins
Advisor: Dr. Barry. R. Noon, Barry.Noon@colostate.edu
Dissertation: Devising a landscape scale conservation strategy for Tigers (Panthera tigris) and Leopards (Panthera pardus) in the human dominated Central Terai Landscape, India.
Objectives: 1) Determine the spatio-temporal dynamics of tiger and leopard use of areas outside protected area boundaries in the Central Terai Landscape; 2) Determine  the  scale  and  nature  of  human-large  carnivore  interactions  in  the  Central Terai Landscape  and  their  bearing  on  community  attitudes  towards  large  carnivores  occurring outside protected areas.
Expected completion: August 2018

PhD candidate, Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)
Advisor: Dr. Emma Beatriz Casanave, casanave@criba.edu.ar
Dissertation: Landscape ecology and genetics of puma (Puma concolor) in the Argentine Espinal: analysis of spatial connectivity and gene flow.
Objectives: 1) Determine the level of genetic variability of the population (or meta-population); 2) Estimate the effective population size; 3) Analyze the population genetic structure and characterize gene flow; 4)  Identify the presence of geographic barriers (particularly those with an anthropogenic origin) to dispersion; 5) Analyze landscape connectivity and build a map of resistance/conductance to the gene flow; and 6) Contrast genetic with ecological data to delineate appropriate conservation strategies.
Expected completion: April, 2020.

Other Scholarship Applicants

Ángel Balbuena Serrano, angel_balse@hotmail.com
M.S. student, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México
Advisor: Dr. Martha Mariela Zarco González, mmzarcog@uaemex.mx
Thesis: Modelos espaciales de riesgo de depredación de animales domésticos por grandes carnívoros en Brasil.
Objective: To generate spatial patterns of predation risk to pets by jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in Brazil.

Lara Brenner, lara.brenner@umontana.edu
MS Candidate, University of Montana, Missoula
Advisor: Elizabeth Metcalf, elizabeth.metcalf@umontana.edu
Thesis: The effect of trophy hunting regulations on mountain lion (Puma concolor) stress and human attitudes.
Objectives: To measure 1) public attitudes towards mountain lions, and 2) stress-related cortisol in mountain lions and relate them both to statewide hunting regulations.

Luis Adrián Silva Caballero, silva.luis@colpos.mx
PhD Candidate, Programa de Manejo de Fauna Silvestre, Campus Montecillo, México.
Advisor: Dr. Octavio C. Rosas Rosas, octaviocrr@colpos.mx
Thesis: Food preferences and their relationship with the bioenergetics of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Abra Tanchipa, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Objective: Estimate the energy requirements of jaguars that inhabit the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Abra Tanchipa (BRSAT) based on their food preferences.

Christina Colondres, cmcolondres@gmail.com
MS Candidate, Wageningen University, Netherlands
Advisor: Peter de Jong
Thesis: How do cheetah social dynamics influence breeding efficacy; do females really prefer males from coalitions?

Nydia Nicté Diaz Bernal, pantomime_me@live.com.mx
M.S. Candidate, Laboratory of Bioacoustics and Behavior, Laboratory of Terrestrial Vertebrates (Mammalogy) and Scientific Collection Mammal  Research,  Interdisciplinary Center for Regional  Integral Development Unit, Oaxaca, Mexico, IPN (CIIDIR-Oaxaca).
Advisor: Dr. José Roberto Sosa López, jrobertososa@gmail.com
Thesis:  Characterization of habitat use of two species of wild cats (margay and bobcat) in an area designated for voluntary conservation in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Alex Erwin PhD Student, Genetics GIDP, University of Arizona, jaerwin@email.arizona.edu Advisor: Dr. Melanie Culver, Culver@ag.arizona.edu
Tentative Dissertation: Conservation genomics of mountain lions and black-tailed prairie dogs. Objectives: 1) Examine the effects of hunting on population structure, social structure, and reproductive success in the Uncompahgre Plateau, CO using SNP genomic data and field collected data from Dr. Ken Logan. 2) Increase by four-fold the number of markers on the PumaPlex SNP chip, which will allow rapid, affordable genotyping of all samples, including low quality and non-invasive samples, to over 100 markers.  3) Perform a phylogenomic and taxonomic examination of black-tailed prairie dog subspecies to aid their reintroduction into Arizona. Expected completion: May 2018

José Antonio García Nava, antonio.0620@hotmail.com
MS candidate, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Biológicas Aplicadas (CICBA), Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México
Advisor: Dra. Martha Mariela Zarco González,  mmzarcog@uaemex.mx
Thesis: Design a livestock management program to reduce the risk of predation by wild cats in southern Mexico.

Morgan Gray, morgan.gray@berkeley.edu
PhD candidate, Department of Environmental Science, Policy Management, University of California, Berkeley
Advisor: Adina Merenlender, adinam@berkeley.edu
Dissertation: Why did the bobcat cross the road? Investigating human land use and roads as barriers to movement in Coyote Valley, California.

Anne Hilborn PhD candidate, Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech; ahilborn@vt.edu
Advisor: Dr. Marcella Kelly, makelly2@vt.edu
Dissertation: Functional Response in Serengeti Cheetahs Objectives: 1) For the first time to determine the functional response of a wild mesopredator. 2) To examine how individual variability of both cheetahs and their prey impacts the functional response of cheetahs. 3) To investigate how collecting prey density data at different spatial and temporal scales impacts estimates of cheetah functional response.

Cindy Hurtado, cindymeliza@gmail.com
M.S. candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, Maryland
Thesis: Spatial ecology of the Pampas cat Leopardus colocolo in the Sechura Desert of northwestern Peru.
Objectives: Understand spatial aspects of Pampas cat, inhabiting a harsh environment such the Sechura desert. We will evaluate movement patterns, habitat selection and home range size, near wetlands and within the desert.

Alexander K. Killion, alexanderkillion@u.boisestate.edu
PhD candidate, Boise State University
Advisor: Neil H. Carter, neilcarter@boisestate.edu
Dissertation: The effects of anthropogenic night light and noise on mountain lion behavior along wildland-urban interfaces in the Rocky Mountain West.
Expected Completion Date: 2020

Romina Matamala, matamalaro@gmail.com
PhD candidate, Departamento  de Geografía y  Turismo, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina
Advisor: Dr. Mauro Lucherini, lucherinima@yahoo.com
Dissertation: Local development strategies for enhancement of cultural and natural heritage and territorial sustainable management in the Puna of Jujuy: a case study.
Objectives: 1. Support the conservation of the endangered Andean cat in NW Argentina through the engagement of local communities. 2.  Integrate ecological data, geographical information, and socio-economic tools to develop a sustainable tourism plan that will create a direct connection between economic development and the conservation of wildlife.
Completion date: November 2018

Anna Nisi, anisi@ucsc.edu
Advisor: Chris Wilmers, cwilmers@ucsc.edu
Thesis: Physiology, survival and reproduction of pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Objectives: Focusing on the puma populations in the Santa Cruz Mountains: 1) characterize the relationship between glucocorticoid levels and individual fitness (i.e., survival and reproduction) and identify important sources of demographic and behavioral variation in fecal glucocorticoid concentrations; 2) examine how puma home range requirements are impacted by life history, landscape, and anthropogenic factors; and 3) describe how puma reproductive success is related to human development and land use.
Expected completion: 2020

Meredith S. Palmer, palme516@umn.edu
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior, University of Minnesota
Advisor: Dr. Craig Packer, packer@umn.edu
Thesis: Anti-predator behaviors of ungulates in multi-predator communities across spatiotemporal gradients of predation risk.
Objectives: Understanding when large-bodied vertebrates use proactive or reactive behavioral responses counter risk from multiple large predator species; these data can aid conservation efforts such as reestablishing ecological relationships after reintroduction of large carnivores (i.e., lions or cheetahs).
Completion date: May 2018

Emily Reynolds: eareynol@gmail.com
MS Candidate, University of Arizona: School of Natural Resources and the Environment 
Advisor: Randy Gimblett: gimblett@ag.arizona.edu
Thesis: Examining the effectiveness of citizen science in jaguar and ocelot conservation.
Expected completion: August or December 2016

Tricia Rossettie, tricia.rossettie@gmail.com
MS candidate, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University
Advisor: Dr. James Cain, jwcain@nmsu.edu
Tentative thesis:  Spatial density estimations of Puma concolor by remote cameras and hair sampling in southwestern New Mexico
Objectives:  1. Estimate  puma density on the Ladder Ranch using remote camera and hair sample data by spatial mark-resight and capture-recapture models; 2. Determine the efficacy of modified Belisle foothold traps as a method of collecting hair samples for genetic analysis .
Expected completion: December 2017

Lucero Vaca, lucerovaca@gmail.com
PhD candidate, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
Advisor: Professor Claudio Sillero, Zubiri, claudio.sillero@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Laura M. Vargas, lmvogg@gmail.com
MS candidate, National University of Colombia
Advisor: Gabriel Jaime Colorado, gabrieljaimecolorado@gmail.com
Jaguar population ecology in the Amazonian forest, Colombia
Objective: Estimate occupancy patterns of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in different habitat types in Colombia’s southernmost Amazon forest.
Completion date: November 2017


[See the profiles of the awardees and applicants for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.]

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