For Release: Sept. 2, 2004
Peper Long (202) 673-0206 or (202) 391-2471
Latino Researchers Study Ecological Research Techniques at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center
Fifteen Latino researchers are at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va., learning how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—radio tracking, satellite imagery and mapping techniques—to protect and monitor the habitats of endangered or threatened species. They are fellows in the Latino Conservation GIS Fellowship program, a seminar taught in Spanish by CRC staff, from Aug. 28 through Sept. 8.
Spanish-speaking researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and other countries will be participating in a variety of courses, including radio-tracking Virginia’s white-tailed deer; collecting behavior data using global positioning systems; and using computer technology to determine deforestation rates in tropical rainforests. All of this GIS training is based on data and information from National Zoo GIS research projects.
The consequences of environmental changes—deforestation, human population fluctuations, farming trends—on many animals and their habitats are not always noticeable until damage has already been done. GIS methods, such as combining satellite maps with radio tracking data, help scientists identify and monitor habitat changes, and develop better management techniques for endangered species.
After the seminar, the Latino fellows will return to their countries and combine the GIS training with data from their own research. They are studying a variety of topics, including the harpy eagle in Ecuador, Belizian coral reefs, and tropical carnivores in Mexico.
More than 600 researchers applied for the 15 fellowship slots, demonstrating a strong desire for GIS training. The seminar is supported by the Latino Initiatives Pool, which is administered by the Smithsonian’s Center for Latino Initiatives.
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