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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, THE
Doing Business As Name:American Museum Natural History
PD/PI:
  • Christopher J Raxworthy
  • (212) 769-5802
  • rax@amnh.org
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • A. Townsend Peterson
Award Date:08/27/2004
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ NaN
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 80,142
  • FY 2004=$80,142
Start Date:09/01/2004
End Date:08/31/2006
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:490100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:SGER BS&I: Accelerating Discovery of New Species in Madagascar Using Remotely Sensed Data and Ecological Niche Modeling
Federal Award ID Number:0423286
DUNS ID:061202768
Parent DUNS ID:061202768
Program:Biodiversity: Discov &Analysis

Awardee Location

Street:Central Park West at 79th St
City:New York
State:NY
ZIP:10024-0000
County:
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:08

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:American Museum Natural History
Street:Central Park West at 79th St
City:New York
State:NY
ZIP:10024-0000
Country:US
Cong. District:08

Abstract at Time of Award

SGER BS&I: Accelerating discovery of new species in Madagascar using remotely sensed data and ecological niche modeling Christopher Raxworthy and Townsend Peterson Exploratory Work on a New Research Idea:- Raxworthy et al. (2003, Nature 426, 837-841) recently published results suggesting that remotely sensed data (collected by satellites and the Space Shuttle) and ecological niche modeling can be used to help identify areas with new species. Distribution modeling was used to successfully predict chameleon species occurrences in Madagascar. But some of these models also produced distribution error: they over-predicted occurrences of species in 3 intersecting areas, which actually yielded 7 species new to science. These new species exhibit characters supporting close relationships to the species originally targeted for distribution modeling, and they appear to share similar niche requirements. This novel result suggests ecological niche modeling offers innovative potential for the discovery of new species and thus can be used to direct survey efforts to areas of greatest potential. The objective of this proposal is to test ecological niche modeling using a broader range of animal groups. This work both is exploratory and high risk; this is the first attempt to apply remote sensing data and ecological niche modeling to accelerating the discovery of new species. A Severe Urgency:- The Malagasy Government has recently announced a three-fold expansion of the reserve network within 5 years. This magnitude of increase is unprecedented, and unlikely to ever be repeated again owing to the rapid loss of primary forest outside reserves. Although major elements of the reserve program have been proposed (ANGAP, 2001), a small window of opportunity currently exists for biologists to propose additional recommendations. Discovery of important areas with unprotected new species, during the critical next two years of reserve planning, would have a profound influence on the final reserve network design. Major objectives:- 1) Produce ecological niche models for at least 200 species of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals, 2) identify intersecting areas of potential over-prediction and select sites to be surveyed, 3) survey sites and rapidly work up collections to identify/diagnose new species, 4) disseminate results concerning unprotected regional endemism to the Malagasy Government, and 5) compare these new species discoveries against surveyed sites selected blind to model results, to evaluate the utility of ecological niche modeling for accelerating species discovery. Broader Impacts:- Surveys will produce important voucher specimens (including tissues), broaden international collaboration between AMNH and the University of Antananarivo to include GIS and remote sensing, involve the participation and training of at least four PhD students from the USA and Madagascar, and provide data for a web-based international teaching module on distribution modeling being developed at AMNH. Innovative biogeographic perspectives are expected to have a profound influence on the establishment of future reserves in Madagascar. Intellectual Merit and Project Significance:- The results and conclusions have the potential to radically improve the way biologists and conservationists select survey sites to document new species diversity. Confirming the ability of ecological niche modeling to identify areas of unknown endemism would represent a major advance, and offers exciting potential for accelerating species discovery on a global scale. Obvious resulting benefits would include more inclusive and timely conservation programs, and the availability of greater biodiversity for ecological and evolutionary research.

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