Scat-sniffing dog helps save endangered primates

A scat-sniffing dog by the name of Pinkerton may be the best friend ever for a small, highly elusive group of endangered monkey and gibbon species now scrambling for survival in the vanishing forests of a remote Chinese mountain range. The high-energy Belgian Malinois is a critical player in efforts to preserve the black-crested gibbon and the Phayre’s leaf monkey.

Plant biodiversity enhanced thanks to spillover from landscape corridors

Landscape in pine plantation forest.Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, along with collaborators at three other universities, have discovered that the biodiversity in a patch of habitat can extend outside the borders of a protected area; this effect is magnified when corridors — skinny strips of land — connect the habitats. Their findings, reported in this week’s online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide a strategy for managing nature preserves to maximize biodiversity in the small spaces that are already formally protected.

Study on wildlife corridors shows how they work over time

Ellen Damschen & Forest ServiceA new paper on ecological corridors co-authored by Washington University biologists Ellen Damschen and John Orrock in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, was published online Dec. 1 as part of a special issue on movement ecology. This research reveals that by understanding how species move, you can predict if and how corridors work.

Book’s plea: Save the bonobos

Image courtesy of Marian BricknerA biologist at Washington University in St. Louis is the mastermind behind a project that has led to an informative book, aimed at children but appealing to all ages, on an endangered species of ape. Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, is the driving force behind I’m Lucy, A Day in the Life of a Young Bonobo, written by Mathea Levine, Goodenough’s daughter, and featuring the photographs of St. Louisan Marian Brickner. The book includes a convincing, impassioned Afterward by the famed primatologist Jane Goodall.

New satellite imaging research could save the lemur in Madagascar

Lemur population has declined sharply since the 1950s. Through education and conservation, a WUSTL expert hopes the trend will be reversed.Using satellite imagery, GIS and ecological and demographic data from the field, Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has studied the effects of deforestation on the ringtailed lemur population in Madagascar during the last forty years. He has determined that while causes of deforestation vary in different parts of the African island nation, the total lemur population has dropped by more than half since the 1950s.

Caves of St. Louis County in trouble

Caves are in trouble, at least in St. Louis County, Missouri, says Robert Criss, Ph.D., professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, co-author of a scholarly paper that documents, archives and describes the status of all the known 127 caves found in the 508 square mile county.

Caves threatened by County development

Courtesy PhotoA scholarly paper on the status of the 127 known caves in the 508-square-mile county shows developers are discarding the formations with impunity, says co-author Robert E. Criss, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences.

Caves of St. Louis County: a tale of loss

Robert Osburn (yellow helmet, recording and sketching) and WUSTL graduate student Jenny Lippmann (measuring and doing compass readings) conducting the cave survey in a small passage of 23 degree cave in Crawford County, Missouri.The Caves of St. Louis County and the Bridges of Madison County share a common theme: loss. The former, a scholarly paper that appears as the sole entry of the current issue of Missouri Speleology, is a description of some of St. Louis County’s 127 known caves and a warning that development over the past two centuries has eliminated or destroyed many caves in a state that could quite rightly call itself the Cave State. The latter is a tear-jerking novel, made into a movie by Clint Eastwood about a doomed, unlikely love affair, a hallmark of the ’90s with all the permanence of the Backstreet Boys. Caves, though, are in trouble, in St. Louis County, Missouri, and elsewhere, says co-author Robert Criss, Ph.D., professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

‘Refreshing twist’

Allison Miller discusses jocotes with a man in southern Honduras.Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis report that farmers and families in Central America have saved genetic variation in the jocote (ho-CO-tay), (Spondias purpurea), a small tree that bears fruit similar to a tiny mango. And they’ve done this by taking the plants out of the forest, their wild habitat, and growing them close to home for family and local consumption Allison Miller, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, and former graduate student in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, and Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology Barbara Schaal, Ph.D., from Washington University, in conjunction with Peter Raven, Ph.D. Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University and Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, have shown multiple domestications of the jocote in Central America in the midst of large-scale deforestation, a practice that endangers genetic diversity .