Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Karisoke’s Biodiversity Program Manager Shares Skills with Rwandan Students

Students from Rwanda’s National University in Butare are visiting the Karisoke Research Center this week, working under Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program Manager Deo Tuyisingize. Tuyisingize recently completed a two-month training in small mammal studies at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago under Julian Kerbis, Ph.D.

Upon arrival at Karisoke yesterday afternoon, the students mingled with Irish, American, Brazilian and Australian master's degree candidates from the University of Dublin and sat in on the visiting students' presentations. Today, the 15 third year zoology students visited Volcanoes National Park to practice data collection for bird ecology and the behavioral ecology of the endangered golden monkeys.

This afternoon, the zoology students found themselves examining skeletal remains of small mammal specimens back at Karisoke. Their training will be concluded tomorrow with large and small mammal surveying, trapping and identification. In addition, the botany students will undergo training in sampling and identification for plant phenology.

Tuyisingize explains why the training is important: “Small mammal communities have become indicators of environmental health and faunal diversity. However, at the current time, Rwanda does not have a single natural history institution or zoological department that is capable of processing (collecting, preparing, identifying, cataloguing) these small mammal specimens."

During Tuyisingize’s time in Chicago, he acquired important skills to develop his expertise in biodiversity conservation and traveled back to his home country equipped with dissection material, field data sheets, live traps and other necessities to carry out small mammal research at Karisoke. But Tuyisingize’s relationship with the Chicago Field Museum doesn’t end there. Dr. Kerbis will continue to collaborate with Tuyisingize on his research and plans to visit Rwanda in October 2012 to share his knowledge with the Karisoke and Rwandan Development Board staff in mammal ecology and conservation. In addition, all of the specimens collected in Rwanda have been sent to the Chicago Field Museum for analysis.

Jessica Burbridge, Field Communications Officer

J Shouse Photojournalism on Facebook!