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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI, Earthwatch to host lecture on endangered lemurs of Madagascar

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 9, 2005 -- University of Rhode Island alumna Summer Arrigo-Nelson will give an illustrated lecture about habitat destruction in Madagascar and its impact on an endangered primate on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.

Entitled “Investigating the effects of habitat disturbance in Madagascar: the story of the Milne-Edwards sifaka,” this free lecture will be held in the Weaver Auditorium in the Coastal Institute on URI’s Kingston Campus. The event is sponsored by the URI Department of Natural Resources Science and Earthwatch Institute.

The island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, is home to all 32 species of lemurs in the world, the most gravely endangered group of primates on Earth. Just 15 percent of the country’s ancient forests remain intact, so understanding the impact that habitat disturbance has on the endangered lemurs will mean the difference between species survival and extinction.

For the past five years, Arrigo-Nelson has investigated the effects that habitat disturbance has on the behavior and ecology of a rare lemur called the Milne-Edwards sifaka. Living in only two protected areas in the world, this newly classified species is being threatened with extinction. In this lecture, Arrigo-Nelson will discuss what she has learned about the sifaka, what steps are being taken to further understand their behavior, and how the public can become involved in her research project.

Arrigo-Nelson graduated from URI in 1998 with degrees in anthropology and zoology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Stony Brook University under anthropologist Patricia Wright, who has spent 18 years studying lemurs in Madagascar.

For more information about the lecture, email Regen Jamieson at or call the URI Department of Natural Resources Science at 401-874-2495.