EEB grads rack up three Rackham International Research Awards


Jun 23, 2014 Bookmark and Share

EEB graduate students Adrian Melo Carillo, Sergio Redondo and Andréa Thomaz received Rackham International Research Awards.

Adrian Melo Carillo sampling in Mexico.Melo Carillo, a traditional master’s student, received $8,000 from Rackham to conduct field and lab work to determine genetic diversity of the critically endangered Mexican howler monkey. He was also awarded a $1,000 Tinker Grant Field Research Award from the U-M Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies for his fieldwork in Mexico.

“This project is a population genetic study that encompasses the entire range of distribution of this subspecies,” explained Melo Carillo. For a month from late May through June 2014, he ventured to previously unsampled areas in the Mexican states of Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz to provide a more accurate picture of the genetic structure of this endangered New World primate. Melo Carillo was collecting fecal samples in specific regions where there wasn’t a record of the monkey’s presence although these regions were within the stipulated geographic distribution range. Ultimately, the researchers hope to help generate more adequate conservation strategies.

Sergio Redondo at U-M Biological Station.Redondo, a Frontiers master’s student, received a $9,000 Rackham International Research Award to conduct fieldwork in Peru. Sergio’s research project is aimed at determining the taxonomic identity, genetic diversity and distribution range of howler monkeys in Peru.

“Currently, I am working on a phylogenetic/biogeographic study of howler monkeys in Peru,” Redondo said. “Bush meat hunting and deforestation have largely devastated several monkey populations, including the howlers. Current knowledge of Peruvian howler monkeys is only based on some observational studies and one howler monkey morphological study in Brazil, but no genetic studies are found in the literature for this group from Peru, making it difficult to have a true understanding of the populations. It is imperative that we are able to identify these monkey taxa, determine their distribution and estimate their genetic diversity, so we can promote the implementation of effective conservation policies. To begin answering these questions, I will be collecting samples across the Peruvian landscape including Piura, Tumbes, Pucacuro, Huanuco, and Puerto Maldonado this summer for two and a half months. I will also be sampling from museum specimens to get a well-rounded sampling through the country.” 

Andre Thomaz casts her net.Thomaz, a Ph.D. student, was awarded a $5,500 Rackham International Research Award to support her field work in Brazil to collect 22 species in a genus of guppies (Phalloceros). “Because some species in this genus broadly co-occur along the Brazilian coastal drainages, this research will test whether sympatry may be constrained by low or high ecological divergence. For that, we will incorporate biotic factors to test historical biogeographic patterns of sympatric (living together) and allopatric (living apart) species along the Brazilian coastal environmental gradient.”