The Journal of Zoology love tarsiers

22 Jan

Everyone loves a tarsier (except Rob). As it turns out Journal of Zoology love them too, and we are in. It is my first ‘official’ proper journal publication and to be honest I’m too scared to actually read the online version in case I’ve made an horrific error….tarsiers are primates right?

So, I guess that makes me a scientist. I am off to get one of these outfits to make it official:


Anyway here’s the link:



Tiny new tarsier subspecies found in the Philippines.

11 Oct


Some Gratuitous Videos of Animals Doing Stuff.

9 Oct

What's In John's Freezer?

Title says it all? Sometimes a spade needs to be called a spade.

From time to time the Structure & Motion Lab at the RVC gets cool videos of animals doing different behaviours, be that slow-mo/high-speed videos, x-ray videos. motion capture or whatever. Actually, we get cool videos pretty much every day but some of them (such as a racehorse galloping on a treadmill) seem mundane to us, much as our visitors are impressed.

Here are some examples of the stuff we’ve filmed recently. It all seems to belong on this blog as an example of anatomy in motion, but has no good home here otherwise and no other cohesive threads uniting the disparate videos.

Hence the title. Enjoy!

The above two videos were made by Renate Weller, Emily Sparkes and others. Looping GIF of the last one, via Marko Bosscher:


Shin-Ichi Fujiwara, myself and others made that video some years ago…

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Cheeky little article.

24 Sep

The world needs to know more about tarsiers, and luckily we can now find them with relative ease (and a computer).


Tarsier call

15 Dec

Tarsier call

And for those wondering what a tarsier (or the jungle at dawn) sounds like…..

Imagine a puppy with a squeaky toy.

Geographic profiling and tarsiers

15 Dec


The Spectral Tariser. (Photo credit: Callum Pearson, Opwall 2013)

So, this is exciting – thesis has been submitted, and we are currently working on publishing the exciting paper on what I did this summer. What did I do this summer I hear you cry….? Well, I used techniques commonly used within the realms of criminology, techniques that have been adapted to locating serial killers, serial arsonists and such like – and applied these to locating tarsier sleeping sites. AND IT WORKED. Geographic profiling is an analytical tool developed for use within criminology. Here, it uses the spatial locations of connected crimes (such as serial rape, arson or murder) to predict the areas that will most likely include the criminals residence. This has been very successful within the field it was created for, and is widely used on a global scale, by police forces and investigative agencies. More recently this method has been applied to biological data sets such animal foraging patterns, white shark dispersal patterns, invasive species and epidemiology. GP was developed originally to solve the problem of information overload when dealing with cases of serial crime. It is a methodology that looks at the locations of connected crimes to determine the most probable anchor point (work place or home for example) for that criminal. Investigations often result in large numbers of tip-offs, and large numbers of suspects rather than too few. Time and financial constraints will impede most investigations if every suspect has to be scrutinised. In the 1980’s, police investigating the case of the Yorkshire Ripper accrued 268,000 suspect names and 5.4 million vehicle registration numbers. Clearly time constraints in this case meant that investigating each suspect would be unrealistic. Human hunting behaviour observed in criminals involves searching and choosing a victim, method of attack by the offender and a target location. These behaviours are consistent with animals’ hunting and foraging behaviours, so applying criminology methodologies to ecological studies is a logical and valid step.

We all know I really like tarsiers, I do and I am not advocating that they are in fact murderous little primates with a seedy and disturbed nocturnal lifestyle. Although I haven’t yet shown that this is not the case. But I ‘simply’ used their calls as effectively crimes sites and using very complicated mathematics and a whole world of computer code I could then identify the location of their sleeping trees.

I certainly had nothing to do with the writing of the code (full credit goes to Dr. Steve LeComber, Dr. Mark Stevenson and Dr. Bob Verity of QMUL), as there are days when I can barely turn the computer on. But I tottered back from the jungle full of GPS coordinates and plugged then into  Rgeoprofile (( With A LOT of help from Dr. Steve Le Comber in particular whilst I was demonstrating (and we were eating cake) on a small island in Scotland, the models were produced and as if by magic (because it really seemed that way to me – coding is complicated) we produced beautiful geoprofiles. These are effectively a probability surfaces whereby every location on the geoprofile will have a probability attached to it of there being a source site (sleeping tree) there. The model found 10 of the 26 known sleeping sites by searching less than 5% of the total area. In addition the model located all but one of the sleeping sites by searching less than 15% of the area.

SE Asia, specifically Sulawesi houses a huge number of endemic species, and often habitat assessments of cryptic and elusive animals such as the tarsier are overlooked, primarily due to the difficulties of locating them in challenging habitats. The ability to accurately and reliably detect individuals as a basis for – subsequent assessments of population growth, density and other variables is crucial for developing an understanding of change within populations and developing plans for management of both species and their habitat. Traditional assessment techniques are often limited by time constraints, costs and challenging logistics of certain habitats. In particular difficulties arise when studying elusive species with cryptic behaviours.

So there you go, a shortened rather disjointed and probably unclear version of my thesis. But a version nonetheless, and another beautiful photo of the weird and wonderful tarsier.

Vote me on “Young Caring Professional Award 2013”

14 Jun

Everyone please vote for Felicia….she is amazing, and a well deserved finalist!


Image YCPA 2013

Never thought would be the 1 from 20 finalist of YCPA 2013. I am considering myself very lucky and definitely ready to learn and reap many knowledge from this event. Really grateful when Cika, a friend from undergraduate school was telling me about this award in the right time before the closing registration date. Okay, I will let you know anything about this award later but for now …

1st: Click and LIKE (suggest best view for clicking on laptop)
2nd: On the App Page
Get also awesome prize for the most creative comment on my vote page!
Thanks very much for your help and please promote me to other friends as well

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