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!
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.
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!
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/