Aye aye! Sequence genomes to save species

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 25, 2013   View Article

A study of nocturnal lemurs in Madagascar known for their smarts, beaver-like teeth, and long, thin middle fingers may point to the future of endangered species conservation: cheap and fast genome analyses.

Researchers obtained and compared complete genomes from three separate populations of aye ayes and found that one is more distinct from the others than are humans of African and European descent, suggesting that the population warrants greater conservation attention.

Threatened Lemurs’ Diet Key to Conservation Efforts, Researchers Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 8, 2007   View Article

Pristine forests on the African island nation of Madagascar offer the Milne-Edwards’ sifaka a rich diet of fruits, seeds, and leaves, an anthropologist has found.

Logged-over habitat, in contrast, produces mostly leaves for the rare primate to eat.

Rainfall Helps Baby Lemurs Survive, Tooth Study Shows

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 14, 2005   View Article

Baby lemurs born to older females with worn-out teeth are likely to survive, as long as their first few months of life are wet, a new study suggests.

Patricia Wright, an anthropologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, helped discover the surprising link between rainfall and infant lemur survival.

Drug Discovery Plan to Tap, and Help, Africa Forests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 26, 2004   View Article

The beleaguered rain forests of Madagascar are home to thousands of plants found nowhere else—and perhaps new lifesaving drugs. Could the search for medicinal plants help keep the forests of this African island nation intact?

A team of scientists hope the answer is yes.

Paradoxically, African Railroad Keeps Habitat Intact

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 12, 2004   View Article

When back-to-back hurricanes whiplashed the African island nation of Madagascar in February and March of 2000, Karen Freudenberger thought the Fianarantsoa Côte Est (FCE) railroad may have reached the end of its line.

“It was going on Band-Aids and bubble gum—that’s when the cyclones hit,” said Freudenberger, who is now leading a U.S. 13-million-dollar project to restore the railroad and prevent an environmental disaster in national parks bordering the tracks.

African Trees May Be Tied to Lemurs’ Fate

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 26, 2004   View Article

On the African island nation of Madagascar, only primates called lemurs are big enough to move the seeds of many trees around and thus improve the chances of the trees’ survival.

“Lemurs are very important seed dispersers in Malagasy rainforests,” said Chris Birkinshaw, a biologist with the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis who is an expert on lemur seed dispersal.

Wildfire Fuels Debate Over Land-Burning in Africa

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 4, 2004   View Article

Last October Madagascar’s Ibity Massif was engulfed in flames. The mountain is famous among botanists, because as many as 20 plant species found there grow nowhere else in the world.

Neither unique plants nor fire are unusual on Madagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. An estimated 80 percent of the Madagascan flora is endemic. Fires, both natural and human-caused, have burned seasonally dry parts of the island with clockwork regularity for millennia.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach