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Department ofBotany

No. 231
March 2004

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In This Issue

Big Cats Thrive in STRI Open Laboratory

Ricardo Moreno is pictured with 'Bobby Comillos' the largest ocelot ever recorded in the wild in the Americas

Scientists on the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's (STRI's) Barro Colorado Island have been monitoring ocelots in the wild to pursue basic eco-physiological, applied management, and conservation questions that are currently beyond scientific reach. In August 2002, STRI's Automated Telemetry Project staff captured an ocelot in one of the island's several wooden traps. They put him to sleep for a few minutes to measure, weigh, and register him, and to install a collar radio transmitter that lets them know where he is, and when he interacts with other animals, kills and eats prey, drinks water, etc. The scientists named the ocelot Bobby Comillos for his canine teeth, and then released him back into the wild. After a year, Bobby was recaptured, and weighed in at 18.4 kg-a significant increase over his 15.8 kg record. Bobby is now the largest ocelot ever recorded in the wild in the Americas, and is one of 11 ocelots the project has successfully monitored using collared radios.

Tracking Wild Dogs in South Africa

Free-living populations of African wild dogs have declined markedly over the past several decades to fewer than 5,000 individuals. They are not alone. Today, many carnivore species are decreasing in number, the victims of habitat fragmentation, competition with other carnivores, contact with humans, and disease.

For African wild dogs specifically, their populations are diminishing mainly because of competition with other large carnivores. Now the conservation community is interested in re-establishing populations of this endangered predator through targeted reintroductions into the wild. Researchers from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (NZP) and its Conservation and Research Center are working in collaboration with South African scientists and wildlife managers to monitor the movements, behavior, physiology, and health of African wild dogs and their two major competitors: lions and spotted hyenas. Located in South Africa, this initiative is called the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Predator Project.

Currently, 31 wild dogs are being monitored in three packs. The Hluhluwe pack is the largest, with 17 dogs. Two of the alpha females (each pack has one dominant female) each spent one month concealed in underground dens with new litters of pups, but are currently traveling and hunting again with the rest of the pack. The Hluhluwe pack's den is hidden deep within dense vegetation, but the more open habitat around the Umfolozi pack's den has allowed the viewing of a strong and healthy litter of 10 new pups.

Coordinated by NZP's postdoctoral researcher Micaela Szykman, the project is designed to collect information in a novel way-by integrating NZP scientists' expertise in ecology, animal behavior, physiology, and health. Research methods include tracking radio-collared lions, hyenas, and wild dogs; noninvasive fecal hormone monitoring; mapping and contrasting home ranges of each species; and evaluating the health and well-being of reintroduced wild dogs in a competitive environment.

With regard to the dogs, noninvasive endocrine monitoring techniques, in combination with intensive behavioral and ecological monitoring, is expected to yield insight into how the stress of reintroduction affects their reproductive fitness, health, and survival. The research will take several years before results are conclusive.


The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program is pleased to announce its 2004 competitions. The program is a collaboration among Canon U.S.A., Inc., the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the US National Park Service. Thanks to a generous commitment by Canon U.S.A., Inc., the program will be awarding eight $78,000 scholarships to Ph.D. students throughout the Americas to conduct research critical to conserving the national parks of the region. Research projects in the biological, physical, social and cultural sciences are eligible, as well as projects in a new category-technological innovation in support of conservation science. Applications must be received by 3 May 2004. For further information and an Application Guide, please visit <>.

Current Literature

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de Lucas, M., Janss, G.F.E., and Ferrer, M. 2004. The effects of a wind farm on birds in a migration point: the Strait of Gibraltar. Biodivers. Conserv. 13(2):395-407.

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Dogan, M., and Akaydin, G. 2003. An undescribed species of Acantholimon Boiss. sect. Staticopsis (Plumbaginaceae) from Turkey, with some notes on its ecology, conservation status, and relationships. Israel J. Plant Sci. 51(3):231-236.

du Rau, P.D., Barbraud, C., and Mondain-Monval, J.Y. 2003. Estimating breeding population size of the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) in the Camargue (southern France) taking into account detection probability: implications for conservation. Anim. Conserv. 6:379-385.

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Dupont, L., and Viard, F. 2003. Isolation and characterization of highly polymorphic microsatellite markers from the marine invasive species Crepidula fornicata (Gastropoda: Calyptraeidae). Mol. Ecol. Notes 3(4):498-500.

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Haugaasen, T., Barlow, J., and Peres, C.A. 2003. Effects of surface fires on understorey insectivorous birds and terrestrial arthropods in central Brazilian Amazonia. Anim. Conserv. 6:299-306.

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Hennache, A., Rasmussen, P., Lucchini, V., Rimondi, S., and Randi, E. 2003. Hybrid origin of the imperial pheasant Lophura imperialis (Delacour and Jabouille, 1924) demonstrated by morphology, hybrid experiments, and DNA analyses. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 80(4):573-600.

Hennessey, A.B., Herzog, S.A., Kessler, M., and Robison, D. 2003. Avifauna of the Pilon Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands, Bolivia. Bird Conserv. Int. 13(4):319-349.

Herranz, J.M., Ferrandis, P., and Copete, M.A. 2003. Influence of light and temperature on seed germination and ability of the endangered plant species Sisymbrium cavanillesianum to form persistent soil seed banks. Ecoscience 10(4):532-541.

Hobbs, R.J., Cramer, V.A., and Kristjanson, L.J. 2003. What happens if we cannot fix it? Triage, palliative care and setting priorities in salinising landscapes. Aust. J. Bot. 51(6):647-653.

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Ikeda, M., Nunokawa, M., and Taniguchi, N. 2003. Lack of mitochondrial gene flow between populations of the endangered amphidromous fish Plecoglossus altivelis ryukyuensis inhabiting Amami-oshima Island. Fish. Sci. 69(6):1162-1168.

Jaberg, C., and Blant, J.D. 2003. Spatio-temporal utilisation of roosts by the parti-coloured bat Vespertilio murinus L., 1758 in Switzerland. Mamm. Biol. 68(6):341-350.

Jacquemyn, H., Butaye, J., and Hermy, M. 2003. Influence of environmental and spatial variables on regional distribution of forest plant species in a fragmented and changing landscape. Ecography 26(6):768-776.

Jakobs, G., Weber, E., and Edwards, P.J. 2004. Introduced plants of the invasive Solidago gigantea (Asteraceae) are larger and grow denser than conspecifics in the native range. Divers. Distrib. 10(1):11-19.

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Jamieson, I.G., and Wilson, G.C. 2003. Immediate and long-term effects of translocations on breeding success in takahe Porphyrio hochstetteri. Bird Conserv. Int. 13(4):299-306.

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Johns, P.M., and Boag, B. 2003. The spread and distribution of terrestrial planarians (Turbellaria: Tricladida: Geoplanidae) within New Zealand. New Zeal. J. Ecol. 27(2):201-206.

Julliard, R., Jiguet, F., and Couvet, D. 2004. Common birds facing global changes: what makes a species at risk? Global Change Biol. 10(1):148-154.

Kala, C.P., Farooquee, N.A., and Dhar, U. 2004. Prioritization of medicinal plants on the basis of available knowledge, existing practices and use value status in Uttaranchal, India. Biodivers. Conserv. 13(2):453-469.

Karubian, J., Castaneda, G., Freile, J.F., Salazar, R.T., Santander, T., and Smith, T.B. 2003. Nesting biology of a female long-wattled umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger in north-western Ecuador. Bird Conserv. Int. 13(4):351-360.

Kauffman, M.J., Frick, W.F., and Linthicum, J. 2003. Estimation of habitat-specific demography and population growth for Peregrine falcons in California. Ecol. Appl. 13(6):1802-1816.

Keitt, B.S., and Tershy, B.R. 2003. Cat eradication significantly decreases shearwater mortality. Anim. Conserv. 6:307-308.

Klak, C., Reeves, G., and Hedderson, T. 2004. Unmatched tempo of evolution in southern African semi-desert ice plants. Nature 427(6969):63-65.

Koch, M., Dobeš, C., Bernhardt, K.G., and Kochjarová, J. 2003. Cochlearia macrorrhiza (Brassicaceae): a bridging species between Cochlearia taxa from the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians? Plant Syst. Evol. 242(1-4):137-147.

Kuo, C.H., and Janzen, F.J. 2003. BOTTLESIM: a bottleneck simulation program for long-lived species with overlapping generations. Mol. Ecol. Notes 3(4):669-673.

Lafuma, L., Balkwill, K., Imbert, E., Verlaque, R., and Maurice, S. 2003. Ploidy level and origin of the European invasive weed Senecio inaequidens (Asteraceae). Plant Syst. Evol. 243(1-2):59-72.

Lane, C.P., and Andow, D.A. 2003. Oak savanna subhabitat variation and the population biology of Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 96(6):799-809.

Lawler, J.J., White, D., and Master, L.L. 2003. Integrating representation and vulnerability: two approaches for prioritizing areas for conservation. Ecol. Appl. 13(6):1762-1772.

Lei, R.H., Hu, Z., Jiang, Z.G., and Yang, W.L. 2003. Phylogeography and genetic diversity of the critically endangered Przewalski's gazelle. Anim. Conserv. 6:361-367.

Leimgruber, P., Gagnon, J.B., Wemmer, C., Kelly, D.S., Songer, M.A., and Selig, E.R. 2003. Fragmentation of Asia's remaining wildlands: implications for Asian elephant conservation. Anim. Conserv. 6:347-359.

Lim, H.C., and Sodhi, N.S. 2004. Responses of avian guilds to urbanisation in a tropical city. Landscape Urban Plan. 66(4):199-215.

Liven-Schulman, I., Leshem, Y., Alon, D., and Yom-Tov, Y. 2004. Causes of population declines of the lesser kestrel Falco naumanni in Israel. Ibis 146(1):145-152.

Lopez-Pujol, J., Orellana, M.R., Bosch, M., Simon, J., and Blanche, C. 2003. Effects of habitat fragmentation on allozyme diversity and conservation status of the coastal sand dune plant Stachys maritima (Lamiaceae) in the Iberian Peninsula. Plant Biol. 5(5):504-512.

Luoto, M., Rekolainen, S., Aakkula, J., and Pykala, J. 2003. Loss of plant species richness and habitat connectivity in grasslands associated with agricultural change in Finland. Ambio 32(7):447-452.

Lymbery, A.J., Doupé, R.G., and Pettit, N.E. 2003. Effects of salinisation on riparian plant communities in experimental catchments on the Collie River, Western Australia. Aust. J. Bot. 51(6):667-672.

Ma, Z.J., Li, B., Zhao, B., Jing, K., Tang, S.M., and Chen, J.K. 2004. Are artificial wetlands good alternatives to natural wetlands for waterbirds? A case study on Chongming Island, China. Biodivers. Conserv. 13(2):333-350.

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