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Macaques In The City

A male long-tailed macaque at Rifle Range Road assesses me and my sampling team
A male long-tailed macaque at Rifle Range Road assesses me and my  team (photo courtesy of Jayasri Narayanan).

I am very excited to be part of the National Geographic community this year!  A little bit about myself – I’m Amy Klegarth, a 4th year PhD student in Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.  I’m advised by Dr. Hope Hollocher, a population geneticist as well as Dr. Agustín Fuentes whose work lies in the field of ethnoprimatology – or the interface between humans and non-human primates.  I have also been fortunate to be a team member on two National Geographic Crittercam projects, both here in Singapore as well as my other field site, Gibraltar – both of which were tremendously exciting adventures.  My own interest lies in urban primates – monkeys that have a heavily interface with humans.  If you don’t know much about Singapore, let me fill you in, I do not do field work in a remote jungle far from civilization – I do my field work in one of the most technologically modern and densely human populated island-nations in the world – where ~1800 monkeys share space with 5 million+ residents!

View across Marina Bay of downtown Singapore - a 20-30 minute drive from most of the monkey populations give or take lots and lots of traffic!
View across Marina Bay of downtown Singapore – a 20-30 minute drive from most of the monkey populations give or take lots and lots of traffic! Photo – Amy Klegarth

Now I’m here in Singapore to finish up sample collections for my own dissertation research, which blends the specialties of my two advisors.  My focus is on landscape genetics – how the environment promotes or inhibits movement and ultimately gene flow between individuals or groups – and real-time ranging patterns – when and where do individuals go on both a daily and long-term basis.  For the former I use DNA collected primarily from feces and saliva and for the latter I use GPS satellite collars to track individual macaques.  For now that’s all you need to know – I’ll get into the nitty gritty details down the road.

Sampling a juvenile female long-tailed macaque for saliva - don't try this at home!
Sampling a juvenile female long-tailed macaque for saliva – don’t try this at home! (photo courtesy of Jayasri Narayanan)

I like to think of my work as ‘Macaques In the City’ – every day is a seemingly new episode and adventure exploring the lives of these monkeys and the humans they live amongst – and I couldn’t have found a more vibrant place to explore them in!

Rock on,

Amy

P.S. if you want some more background and monkey shenanigans you can check out the personal research blog I share with my colleague and fellow urban primatologist Anne Kwiatt from University of Texas San Antonio – http://twogirlsandsomemonkeys.tumblr.com/