Researchers help save rare venomous mammal from extinction

Mar 31, 2009
Hispaniolan solenodon (Image by Gregory Guida)

Scientists at the University of Bath are working with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to study an endangered large shrew-like mammal that kills its prey with a venomous bite.

The Biodiversity Lab research group of the University’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry will be a playing a key role in the new project that aims to help conserve two types of endemic land in the Dominican Republic.

The Hispaniolan solenodon and the Hispaniolan hutia are two of the few surviving land mammals in the Caribbean Islands, and both are endangered with extinction through habitat loss and introduced mammals.

As a member of a distinct lineage which diverged from all other mammal groups almost 80 million years ago, the Hispaniolan solenodon represents a significant amount of unique evolutionary history and is one of the very few venomous mammals. However, little is known of the basic ecology of both , or the effectiveness of existing measures in meeting their requirements.

The project led by Dr Richard Young of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, a collaborator of the Biodiversity Lab, recently received funding from Defra’s UK Darwin Initiative and will conduct research to investigate the species’ population status, habitat requirements and human-driven threats.

Dr Mark O’Connell of the University’s Department of Biology & Biochemistry will act as a consultant on the project, providing valuable technical support on Geographical Information Systems, and species distribution modelling to map threats and identify key conservation zones for the species at a national scale.

He said: “The project is of global conservation significance. It is an excellent example of how an academic and practitioner partner can work effectively together to generate much-needed knowledge to guide the conservation of threatened species.”

The project will work with the Dominican Republic government and other stakeholders to develop scientifically sound Species Action Plans, and a monitoring programme, to provide a framework for delivering conservation activities and for evaluating their outcomes.

A programme of intensive training with host country project staff in research and conservation planning will ensure skills are left behind to continue the project over the longer term.

Provided by University of Bath

Explore further: Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Global map shows new patterns of extinction risk

Nov 01, 2006

The most detailed world map of mammals, birds and amphibians ever produced shows that endangered species from these groups do not inhabit the same geographical areas, says new research published today.

Size matters: preventing large mammal extinction

Jul 21, 2005

Saving large mammals such as elephants and rhino from extinction could be made more effective by focusing efforts on individual species as well as their habitats. Scientists at the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of ...

Newly discovered monkey is threatened with extinction

Jul 28, 2008

Just three years after it was discovered, a new species of monkey is threatened with extinction according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which recently published the first-ever census of the endangered primate. Known ...

Study: Wildlife trade figures unreliable

Nov 04, 2005

Wildlife trade reported by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora reportedly differs from government figures.

New golden frog discovered in remote region of Colombia

Aug 28, 2007

A new poisonous frog was recently discovered in a remote mountainous region in Colombia by a team of young scientists supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP). The new frog, which is almost two centimetres ...

Extinction alert issued for 800 species

Dec 13, 2005

Conservation and environmental groups have compiled a list of nearly 800 species they say face imminent extinction. Most of the threatened species are found mainly in tropical areas, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —When Antonio DiTommaso, a Cornell weed ecologist, first spotted pale swallow-wort in 2001, he was puzzled by it. Soon he noticed many Cornell old-field edges were overrun with the weedy vines. ...

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

18 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

Apr 23, 2014

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

Apr 23, 2014

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

Apr 23, 2014

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

Humpback protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

Apr 22, 2014

Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...