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Current Projects

Mangrove capuchins

Touristic expansion into the mangrove forest includes stopping to sightsee the capuchin monkeys and their unique tool use behavior. The bearded capuchin species is the only stone tool user, crab-eating, mangrove living of Neotropical primates. The exploitation of shellfish by capuchins likely explains how in mangroves they can survive on small, isolated mangrove islands, while the same species require home-ranges 10 times larger to survive in other areas. This site-specific finding alone is likely of broad scientific interest. This emerging project is investigating the landscape changes in the mangrove of Rio Preguicas, the number of capuchins living within the mangrove inlands, and the crab availability year-round for the monkeys and the situation of human-primate coexistence. The site is in one of the unique and threatened coastal habitats in Brazil. The pristine mangroves of the Rio Preguicas estuary underpin a flourishing fishery based on wild crabs. Just next to the mangrove forests, exist the globally recognized massive, and non-stationary, dune system of Lencois Maranhenses state park.

Elephant navigation in the Zambezi River Basin

The African elephant Victoria Falls Project combines expert knowledge of elephant navigation, GIS, remote sensing, and spatial theories to investigate elephant navigation strategies. Traditional research regarding wildlife spatial navigation is often presented as species-typical behavior. Individuals use either a cognitively demanding form of navigation (Cognitive map) or a less demanding form (route network map). The general hypothesis is that navigation in human and nonhuman animals is context-dependent as far as they locate resources according to the ecological pressures they face. This project goes beyond this binary interpretation by integrating land uses and human activities into statistical models to investigate the effects of the human-related variables in the elephants’ navigation strategies. 

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