Physiological consequences of Great Ape rehabilitation and release
Wild orangutans (Pongo sp.) are facing extinction due to increased changes in human activity (i.e. deforestation, palm oil agriculture, hunting, pet trade). This activity has led to thousands of orangutans displaced from their natural habitats and placed in temporary captive/semi-captive facilities. These facilities spend millions of dollars on medical intervention, care, release, and observation, yet we still know very little about how the overall health of these animals varies during the rehabilitation and release process, which could have long-term affects on fitness. Numerous studies of wild orangutan populations have laid the ground work for sufficient pre- and post-release examination, however surprisingly few studies have examined orangutan health while in rehabilitation centers and even fewer have monitored their progress once released. This study will examine protein and energy balance, stress, and immune-responsiveness throughout rehabilitation and after release at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Center and BOSF Bukit Batikap Release Forest. It will also compare health parameters in released orangutans with those from a long-term study of a wild population at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station.
The objectives of this project are to:
1) determine ways to improve overall pre-release health;
2) better inform release monitoring methods and future government initiatives; and
3) build a health plan for orangutan release that will maximize their chance of survival in the wild.
Urine samples will be analyzed for concentrations of urea, C-peptides, cortisol, cytokines (GCS-F, MCP-1, TNF-α, IL-1RA, IL-8, and IL-10), and neopterin in the Laboratory for Primate Dietary Ecology and Physiology at Rutgers University using colorimetric, radioimmuno, and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay techniques.
GI Parasites in rehabilitated and released Bornean orangutans
Gastrointestinal parasites can have debilitating effects on energy balance, stress, and immunosuppression. However, limited information exists regarding orangutan GI parasites, particularly in rehabilitated and released populations. An initial study conducted at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation and Release Center, the worlds largest great ape rehabilitation and release center, was published in 2010. However, releases did not begin for an additional two years. Thus, we do not know how orangutans are affected by parasitic infections in their new habitat. This study will examine and compare species richness and prevalence in three orangutan populations: 1) pre-release practice island; 2) pre-release quarantine cages; 3) post-release at BOSF Nyaru Menteng and BOSF Bukit Batikap Release Forest.
Fecal samples will be analyzed at the Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Fecal flotation and sedimentation techniques will be used to determine species richness and prevalence. Fecal flotation will be used to identify the eggs of helminths and oocysts and sedimentation for the isolation of trematodes (flukes) and cysts of protozoa.
Dragonfly Classification (Odonata: Macromiidae)
Macromiidae have long been considered a subfamily of Corduliidae (Kirby, 1890). Yet despite almost 150 years of diverse study, a consensus has yet to be reached. This project aimed to elucidate family and subfamily relationships in the infraorder Anistopera (dragonfly) with a focus on Macromiidae. Using gene fragments from four mitochondrial genes (16S rRNA, 28S rRNA, COI, and EFI-α ), a phylogeny was generated using models to correct for non-independence of associated sites.
Genetic Distinction in Californian Frog Populations
Working with Kirsten Monsen, Ph.D. at Montclair State University, I helped create a genomic library for Rana cascadae and screened for polymorphic microsatellites. The goal of this project was to isolate markers from newly discovered populations of Californian frogs which shares mtDNA with previously studied populations. These populations appeared to be genetically distinct to nuclear DNA.