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Valeria Ferrario

Phd thesis

I’m a PhD student in Sustainable Development and Cooperation at the University of Torino, Italy. For my PhD, I’m working on lemurs, a particular taxon of primates. Primates are endemic to Madagascar, and, nowadays, the great majority of the species are on the brink of extinction. I will work on a conservation plan for the largest extant species of lemurs, listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN: Indri indri. Indris do not survive in captivity and, according to different conservation associations, to build a proper campaign for saving them, we need more information on the number of individuals still present in the wild.


Together with Chester Zoo and two Malagasy associations, Madagasikara Voakajy and GERP, my PhD project aims at estimating the number of Indris in two protected areas in Madagascar (Maromizaha New Protected Areas and Mangabe New Protected Area). We will do so using a cutting-edge non-invasive methodology: Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM).

The PAM method consists in putting Automated Recording Units in arrays inside an environment and studying the recorded sounds to make inferences on the state of health of the area and the presence of a particular species. PAM perfectly fits the study of this species because Indris are singing primates: they live in small family groups that emit incredibly complex songs in choruses. We will collect the presence or absence of individuals, working with an algorithm able to detect their vocalisations among the recorded data, to build an occupation model and, hopefully, estimate the density of the populations. We aim to create a long-term and robust collaboration between different global realities that strive to support biodiversity conservation and to have a PAM protocol that, in the future, could be adapted to other species and other environments.

Last update: 15/02/2024 10:04
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