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Old 9th March 2009   #31 (permalink)
John Clare
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Default Re: Caudata.org Grant Poll

Jan, thank you. I think you're being somewhat unfair with the "where will it be published" part. Most scientists wouldn't publish quality projects outside of peer-reviewed journals - to do so doesn't really help one's CV, one's perception in the eyes of one's employer, or one's prospects for an upward career trajectory within academia.

Here are my opinions as promised. Please undertand that I am giving a short honest assessment of each project and that I tend not to minse words - please understand that I intend no offence!
  1. Salamandra algira - Despite my personal fondness for Wouter Beukema, we state in our grant that we favour those working with species in their own country so this makes this otherwise interesting research take a back seat to many of the other applications.
  2. Nanoparticles and Notophthalmus - I have some professional knowledge of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials because of where I work. I am quite curious about this research but I do not see it being a priority for conservation in comparison to the other research grant topics here.
  3. Conservation of Chiropterotriton multidentatus - I think this project would provide valuable information for conservation, although the budget area is vague. This would be in my list of those to be considered.
  4. Chytrid in Appalachian salamanders? - A nice interesting project, though I'm not sure how much it will really contribute to conservation (as the answer is likely to be yes to all the species in my opinion), though it may help us target those species that need more protection than others. This would be in my list of those to be considered.
  5. Axolotl Habitat Preferences - Interesting project but I don't think habitat preference is something that needs to be funded for the axolotl - habitat preservation, pollution reduction and mitigation, removal of predatory fish species, and controlled captive breeding in a local environment are priorities for this species and I am very disappointed we did not receive more applications to help this species. If this animal were not so threatened I would feel better about funding this project but it just doesn't seem appropriate. Aside from this, there is no mention of publication of the results so this would not be on my list, despite how much interest I have in this species.
  6. Bolitoglossa pandi - I think assessment of this species would be a worthwhile endeavour but there is no mention of mode of publication. Still, this would be on my list of projects to consider because of the conservation value.
  7. Mexico Ambystoma & Pseudoeurycea - I like this project and I think the results garnered from this work could be quite interesting. My concern though is that I don't see significant potential conservation data coming from this (again, just my opinion). For that reason I wouldn't consider this a primary candidate for my vote.
  8. Pseudoeurycea cephalica - Again, this falls into the same category as number 7 in my opinion: interesting and worthwhile work but not much immediate conservation value. This project would not be a primary candidate for my vote.
  9. Hellbender/Cryptobranchus alleganiensis - Hellbender populations are having a very hard time particularly in the Ozark mountains (not the region of study for this project, I should point out). There is a huge shortfall in our knowledge of this species. Aside from the potential to help the study populations, this project could yield data that would potentially help the conservation and understanding of Hellbender populations elsewhere. I very much like the detail given in the project, the timeline and publication prospects. I consider this application a strong contender for my vote.
  10. Colombian Bolitoglossa - Population information and assessment of "what is where" is valuable data. If we don't have a comparison to historical records, how can we know if a species is in decline? However for immediate conservation value I believe this project falls into the same category as #7, for example. It would not be a strong contender for my vote.
  11. Bd in Georgia, USA - I view this project similarly to #4 (also about chytrid) but the current application has more clearly stated conservation goals and as a result I would consider it more vote-worthy than #4 and certainly in my list of contenders.
  12. Bolitoglossa franklini - This is interesting work on the genetics of these salamander but it has little or no immediate conservation value and I would not consider it a contender for my vote.
  13. Hemidactylium scutatum - This species has particular habitat requirements, particularly for breeding and has suffered from habitat drainage/destruction over much of its range. It also hasn't received much attention in comparison to other species. Illinois, USA, where this project will take place, represents some of the western-most range of this salamander. At a state level, obviously the conservation of this species should be given importance considering the state is not a stronghold for the species. The data from this project may provide information that could aid conservation but frankly I don't see it having a significant conservational impact (again, my opinion with limited knowledge). However I would consider voting for it.
  14. Peru Bolitoglossa - This is another population assessment with two twists - firstly the research will test for Chytrid in the surveyed salamanders, and secondly there is a major construction project underway that will almost certainly affect some populations of the target species. This assessment would have a more immediate impact on conservation than some of the others presented here because of the immediate construction threat. However whether or not anyone could (or would have the money to) do anything about population damage is another matter. I would consider voting for this project.
  15. Hellbender/Cryptobranchus a. alleganiensis and Mudpuppy/Necturus maculosus - This is another population assessment project. Frankly, from a value for money point of view, I don't think $1000 for 2.5 days of survey time is good bang for buck. For that cost I would have hoped for something more tangible in respect to conservation. I don't think I would consider this a leading contender for my vote.
  16. Guatemalan Bolitoglossa - Captive propogation of threatened species. Captive breeding of threatened species is an admirable goal but I would very much like to hear what has made these species so threatened in the wild to warrant this captive breeding. I would also like to hear about conservation efforts. I am also somewhat dismayed by the fact that this application makes it seem as if nothing is known about the breeding biology of these salamanders (which I am willing to accept). Therefore I find myself questioning the value of undertaking such work bearing in mind how little knowledge there is to begin with. I don't wish to descriminate against species, but I would rather vote for a project that has an achieveable goal over one with a (seemingly) remote chance of success, in the near term at least. Aside from all of this, there is no mention made of publication of the results. I would not consider this a primary candidate for my vote.
  17. Bd in Peru - Population assessment and survey for the presence of chytrid fungus. I don't see immediate conservation implications but the data could be useful for future conservation efforts. Otherwise the application meets our requirements and I would consider voting for it.
So, to summarise, the projects I would consider for my vote are: #3, #4, #6, #9, #10, #11, #13, #14, #17.

For myself, I've whittled the list down to three choices: #9, #11, #14.
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