Zach J. Farris
Ph.D. Student, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Research: Carnivore ecology across the Masoala-Makira landscape, Northeastern Madagascar, with emphasis on Fossa density, habitat associations, activity, and ranging patterns
Species/Topic: Fossa, mongoose, and civet
Abstract: Madagascar is an exceptional biodiversity hotspot and an international conservation priority. The Masoala-Makira landscape provides precious habitat to some of the most critically endangered animals on the planet, including 6 of Madagascar's 8 endemic carnivore species. I will use camera traps to estimate densities of carnivores across 3 fragmented and 3 non-fragmented forests. I will collect habitat data, GIS data, and use available data on poaching pressure and human-wildlife conflict to determine which variables most influence carnivore presence and densities. Additionally, I will radio collar the largest of the carnivores, the endangered Cryptoprocta ferox (fossa), to determine seasonal home range and activity patterns, as well as collect scat and blood samples for genetic/disease analyses and diet description. An understanding of the ecology of fossas, and co-occurring carnivores, across a fragmented landscape is essential for effective conservation of this carnivore community and the diverse, endemic ecosystem in which they live.