Guanacos in Bolivia
This DPhil thesis investigates the direction and rate of change of chacoan grasslands over the recent decades, and determine the causes that are promoting this change. It also asks how these grassland dynamics are affecting guanaco behaviour in terms of their ability to disperse, forage and breed. Through an understanding these processes it aims to predict future interactions among grassland species assemblages and so be able to recommend and implement effective land management interventions.
In parallel the researcher has been working with local indigenous communities, specifically providing intensive training in standard field research techniques, thus developing local biological capabilities. In 2007 Erika won a Whitley Award for the delivery of a year-long training course benefiting 17 parabiologists native to three ethnic groups distributed among the indigenous communities bordering the Kaa Iya National Park. As parabiologists, local community members become empowered to assume responsibility for wildlife conservation at a local level. This participatory approach can be adapted anywhere where long-term conservation actions are needed.