25
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Ocellated Turkeys, Jon McRoberts

Jon McRoberts from Texas Tech University talks about ocellated turkeys. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the special characteristics of this game bird and the challenges of doing field research in the jungles of Mexico. Ocellated turkeys are one of only two species of turkeys in the world (the other is the North American wild turkey) and live in a relatively small (50,000 square mile) area in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, northern Belize and northern Guatemala. They can live in diverse habitat types, from arid brushlands to mature rain forests, but little is known about their ecology and life history. Jon McRoberts will help fill that gap with his four-year research project in Campeche, Mexico.

Jon McRoberts is a doctoral candidate in wildlife science at Texas Tech University. He was the sixth generation to grow up on the family farm in Lewis County, Missouri and moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2001 where he did his undergraduate research at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources where he helped care for two captive river otters and spent 8 months studying wildlife management in South Africa. He graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife and was named The Outstanding Graduating Senior in the department. After college he spent time working in China with the Smithsonian Institution researching giant panda reproduction and conservation. Currently, in addition to his dissertation research, McRoberts is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Texas Tech and is involved with a variety of additional research projects ranging from wind-energy conservation efforts to developing aerial survey methodology to detect wildlife. In his free time Jon enjoys hunting, fishing, live music, wild game cooking, following Missouri Tiger sports, and spending time on the family farm. Jon’s principle research project and the focus of his dissertation is the ecology and management of the ocellated turkey on the Yucatan Peninsula. He spends half the year in the jungles and agricultural fields of Campeche, Mexico and hopes to help conserve this unique species. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 25, 2010.

23
Aug
2010

The WildLife: Wildlife Rescue Centers, Tracy O’Toole

Tracy O’Toole talks about the illegal international pet trade in Central America and what happens to birds, primates and other animals once they’re confiscated by wildlife law enforcement. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the challenges facing wildlife rescue centers and what’s required for successful rehabilitation and release of seized wildlife. Listen and hear how parrots rescued from the fate of being illegally shipped around the world must relearn to fly and hunt, why release sites are so important for success, and the psychological impact of the process on the animals. Tracy O’Toole currently serves as the Director of Wildlife Development Programs for the International Trade and Development Division of Humane Society International.  She oversees programs to build capacity in Central America for enforcement of laws to stop wildlife trafficking and for establishment and running of wildlife rescue centers. She also works on public education and outreach programs to combat illegal wildlife trade throughout the region. Before joining the Humane Society, Ms. O’Toole worked extensively in the fields of international development and conservation for various donor organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development and Europe Aid. She holds a master’s in International Business, a B.A. in International Relations, and is fluent in French, Portuguese and Spanish. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 11, 2010 and was rebroadcast on August 23, 2010.

9
Aug
2010

The WildLife: Smithsonian’s Feather Identification Lab, Marcy Heacker

Marcy Heacker, a wildlife forensic scientist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Identification Lab in Washington, DC, discusses wildlife forensics, bird strikes and feather identification. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how her analysis helps airports manage wildlife to enhance airline safety and also talks about how she and the other forensic scientists at the lab helped analyze the crash of US Airways flight 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson. While typically the result is not as catastrophic, birds and other wildlife strikes to aircraft annually cause over $600 million in damage to U.S. civil and military aviation each year. The Smithsonian’s Feather Identification Lab identify the species involved and thus help airport biologists manage the habitats in such a way so as to discourage wildlife from congregating in the area. While the methods vary depending on each unique situation, it works. For example, New York’s JFK International Airport reduced gull strikes by roughly 80 percent using tactics such as grass management, eliminating standing water, and frightening birds with pyrotechnics. All that is possible once you know the species you’re dealing with, and Marcy is a part of that. Marcy Heacker is a research assistant with the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Identification Lab in Washington, DC. She received her Master’s of Science and Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She also holds an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology from Columbus State College in Columbus, Ohio. The main focus of Marcy's work is in avian species identification from microscopic and whole-feather characters. This specialized work in wildlife forensics is particularly important for aviation industry personnel that deal with civil and military bird strikes. This feather identification service has led to collaborations with scientists in the fields of aviation safety, wildlife biology, anthropology, and law enforcement. Marcy's current research is on the feather microstructure of the ducks, geese, and swans. The lab's work has been featured in numerous scientific papers and the media, including Discovery, National Public Radio, Smithsonian magazine and Audubon magazine, among others.  This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on August 9, 2010.

21
Jun
2010

The WildLife: Brazil’s Illegal Bird Trade, Juliana Machado Ferreira

Brazilian biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira discusses the illegal wildlife trade in Brazil. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the domestic market for pet birds and what role wildlife forensic research can play in helping to expose and stop this trade. She also discusses her genetic research into the DNA of four songbird species and how knowledge of their geographic origin can help with the rehabilitation and release of illegally captured animals. Juliana Machado Ferreira is a passionate Brazilian biologist who seeks to save the world one bird at a time. She is a TED Senior Fellow and is pursuing her doctorate in Conservation Genetics at the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology and Vertebrate Conservation (LABEC) at São Paulo University. She also works with SOS Fauna. Her current research project involves developing species-specific molecular markers and population genetics studies of four passerine birds, with the aim to understand the distribution of their genetic variability and to track down the origin of birds seized from illegal trade. She works closely with the US National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, and her ultimate goal is to help set up a Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Brazil.This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 21, 2010.

31
May
2010

The WildLife: Whooping Cranes, Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall uncovers the silly antics of whooping cranes, from their strange “whooping” call to their captivating mating dance. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how, as “goats” of the wetlands, whooping cranes will munch on whatever food is available. He also reveals how their large size, about 5 feet tall, lets them bully other creatures yet how one tiny creature, a common fly, annoys the bird so much that it drives these massive birds off their nests. Listen and learn what makes whooping cranes so special, how these endangered birds are making a comeback from a population of just 16 individuals in the 1940s, and what scientists are going through – from dressing up in whooping crane costumes to teaching the chicks their migration route by following ultralight planes -- to turn this story of near extinction of a species into one of hope and success. Matt Mendenhall is Associate Editor of Birder’s World magazine. He has written about all sorts of birds — from the common Northern Cardinal and Varied Thrush to the endangered Whooping Crane and California Condor to the presumably extinct Imperial Woodpecker. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate of the journalism program at Marquette University. This episode of “The WildLife” was originally broadcast on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 4, 2010.

4
Jan
2010

The Wildlife: Whooping Cranes, Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall uncovers the silly antics of whooping cranes, from their strange “whooping” call to their captivating mating dance. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how, as “goats” of the wetlands, whooping cranes will munch on whatever food is available. He also reveals how their large size, about 5 feet tall, lets them bully other creatures yet how one tiny creature, a common fly, annoys the bird so much that it drives these massive birds off their nests. Listen and learn what makes whooping cranes so special, how these endangered birds are making a comeback from a population of just 16 individuals in the 1940s, and what scientists are going through – from dressing up in whooping crane costumes to teaching the chicks their migration route by following ultralight planes -- to turn this story of near extinction of a species into one of hope and success. Matt Mendenhall is Associate Editor of Birder’s World magazine. He has written about all sorts of birds — from the common Northern Cardinal and Varied Thrush to the endangered Whooping Crane and California Condor to the presumably extinct Imperial Woodpecker. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate of the journalism program at Marquette University. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 4, 2010.