ECWG grantee co-author of journal study

Sara Zeigler, whose October-November 2008 work in Brazil was partly supported by an ECWG Exploration and Field Research grant, is one of four authors and the corresponding author of “Identifying Important Forest Patches for the Long-term Persistence of the Endangered Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin,” published on March 31 in the journal, Tropical Conservation Science.

She says the golden-headed lion tamarin, a small primate, is one of many Brazilian Atlantic forest species that deforestation threatens to drive to extinction.

“As habitat is lost, individual habitat patches become smaller and more isolated from other patches. In response … populations of species inhabiting those patches also become smaller with less genetic diversity and ultimately have a higher extinction risk.

“Large forest patches may be especially important for the survival of this endangered arboreal primate that maintains large home ranges at low population densities,”  Zeigler says.

The researchers used data from field studies and the published literature to model the smallest area in which a population of the primates could sustain itself despite natural threats such as fire and disease. They used Landsat images to locate patches that were large enough.

Since continuing deforestation, land conversion  to agriculture, and construction projects are real and major threats to the remaining golden-headed lion tamarin habitat, the authors recommend research into the quality and occupancy of the largest patches the study highlighted as well as additional protection of habitat.

Zeigler received her undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 2004, and a MSc in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland in 2006.  She’s currently a PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of Maryland.

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