In my own work, this year has had a larger focus on sengi evolution than any other year. While most of my research is related to amphibians, my broad Evolutionary background and experience in East African fauna has created a particularly rewarding collaboration in studying these enigmatic small mammals (also known as Elephant-shrews. Though, as they are neither elephant nor shrew, most mammalogists prefer the Bantu African name of sengi). I have two papers coming out in 2021 showing that we have more diversity than we thought, and more challenges than expected to ensure their continued conservation. Check out my "publications" tab to find references. Also, I'm having fun drawing sengis! Check out my cartoon above of Rhynchocyon petersi!
2020 and 2021 will also be big years for species descriptions, with two published in 2020 in collaboration with Simon Loader and his group at the British Natural History Museum and our Kenyan collaborators and a few more expected as direct results from these Udzungwa and Ukaguru studies. As we continue to clarify the biological diversity in Africa, it makes the conservation priorities clearer. In particular, we need to look outside of the tropical submontane forests to the under-valued diversity in grasslands and coastal areas.
Thinking of outreach, I am continuing to plan outreach projects in East Africa, particularly with the amazing women who run the villagelifeoutreachproject.org project which focuses on villages around Lake Victoria. I'm so excited to bring games, maps, and learning materials about the frogs around the lake to the schools that they work with.
And finally, I am so excited to be teaching a new Conservation Biology course this Spring where I can integrate so much content from this African work. Student interest in conservation and sustainability is growing at a record rate, and I'm so honored to get to spend time with these students and they prepare for their futures.
My best to you all, Lucinda