Can spatial variability in strontium isotopes help protect endangered wildlife in Madagascar?


Understanding how animals move within and across landscapes is a conservation priority. However, monitoring dispersal, home ranges, and territories for cryptic, solitary, and rare animals can be challenging. Typical methods for assessing mobility patterns include mark and recapture, telemetry, GPS tracking, and camera grids. These methods can be expensive, may require direct handling that can be stressful for animals, and provide limited spatial or temporal information for only a few individuals. Additionally, they are limited to living animals that can physically be tracked; they cannot be used to interpret mobility of historic or fossil individuals. Isotopic analysis provides a complementary approach for monitoring mobility of both living and extinct individuals within and among regions. Carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen isotope values can identify foraging in distinct habitats (e.g., hot, dry, open localities versus cool, moist, or closed ones). However, they are less useful for distinguishing landscape use in regions with relatively invariant vegetation or climate. In these contexts, strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr), which primarily reflect geology, may be advantageous. I present case studies from Madagascar and discuss how this geochemical approach could be applied to other systems, such as validating proposed protected areas, identifying important unprotected regions, and monitoring use of agricultural land or revegetated corridors. 


I am an interdisciplinary scientist. I obtained my masters degrees in Anthropology and Earth Sciences, and my PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.  I use isotope biogeochemistry to investigate changes in habitat use, diet, and mobility over time.  My main research interests revolve around documenting how human activities have directly and indirectly influenced animal communities in the distant and recent past. I focus on terrestrial ecosystems and am particularly interested in mammals.


Date & time

12–1pm 20 February 2018


Eucalyptus Seminar Room (S2.05), Level 2, RN Robertson Building (46), ANU


Brooke Crowley, Departments of Geology and Anthropology, University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati Ohio, USA)


 Jennie Mallela
 6125 2534

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