Teaching and Leading through Science Research Education in Andasibe, Madagascar

Jonathan Fiely

By enabling local park guides and school children to create and execute conservation-based research, this project seeks to catalyse grassroots education and understanding of Madagascar's stunning biodiversity.

Through grassroots participation in education and hands-on research activities, local guides will be able to better serve Andasibe, Madagascar, a region with several different protected areas, as conservation ambassadors. Several research activities led by guides will teach scientific methodology. These include biodiversity monitoring through pitfall trapping (with target orders including small mammals, reptiles, and scorpions) and spool-and-line tracking of tenrecs (Tenrecidae). Additionally, a scholarship program will award further proposals for research and education, provided a demonstration of capacity and coherent achievable objectives. Thus participants will have individually led a project by the conclusion of this grant, gaining perspective on leadership and conservation activities of which they have personal interest.

This project's inspiration is the comprehensive training of local guides in the scientific method, empowering leadership by accomplishing research objectives, and a refined understanding of the intent of biological research in Madagascar. It's predicted such guides will be better able to develop and communicate their own philosophies of conservation to their friends, families, and communities-especially while serving as field agents building the capacity of “community-protected areas”.

Two major projects are anticipated (with many others still being developed), including the mark-recapture and spool-and-line tracking of tenrecs. Observation of tenrec habits will advance our knowledge of the region's biodiversity. The capture and mark-recapture of select species for abundance, and use of spool-and-line are novel approaches untested in the region, serving to answer important questions in regards to biodiversity and habit of species. Both methodologies are especially conductive to environmental education being both hands-on, achievable, and long-term in scope. Aside from the long-term benefits of direct education, all activities begun as part of this program will result in a poster produced in Malagasy and distributed to the school systems in conjunction with a guide presentation at the school. A book, synthesizing the results of all the research activities, will be produced and published at the conclusion of all projects.

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