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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Mr Pedro Méndez-Carvajal, BSc. Animal Biology, MSc Primate Conservation

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I graduated with a BSc in Animal Biology at the University of Panama in 2001, and obtained my MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University, UK, in 2008. Before joining Durham Anthropology Department, I have been a collaborator, research associate, intern, and PI on various projects related to ornithology, entomology, and plants for various organizations and companies, including the University of Panama, the Environmental Authority of Panama, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Peregrine Fund, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the BBC, MWH Panama S.A. This gave me experience various ecosystems in Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Everglades in the USA.

I started my own project with the desire to increase scientific knowledge about Panamanian primates, and particularly for those living in highly fragmented habitats outside the Natural Reserves and National Parks. My main interest is the study of mammalian diversity, ecology, and conservation, particularly non-human primates. In 2010, following earlier projects, I founded the Fundación Pro-Conservación de los Primates Panameños (FCPP, Conservation Foundation for Panamanian Primates), the first non-governmental organization in Panama dedicated to the study and conservation of non-human primates, involving both graduate students and local people as an important target for environmental education.

I have focused my conservation efforts on Critically Endangered species in Panama: the Azuero spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis), the Azuero howler monkey (Alouatta coibensis trabeata) and the Darien black spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps rufiventris). My project also uses camera-traps at canopy level and mist-nets to study bats, as part of a broader study of the habitat.

I have been a mammal tracking instructor for private companies, and advisor for the environmental authority of Panama, I am a member of the Panamanian Society of Biology, the Primates Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and a member of the Primate Thematic Group of the Mesoamerican Society. In Durham I am part of the Primatology Group and the Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research.

I am a PhD candidate at Durham University in the field of Biological Anthropology. My project, entitled "Conserving primates in highly deforested habitats: a case study in Panama" uses the data I have collected over the last 15 years to evaluate the effectiveness of my conservation activities, and to evaluate the current distribution of primates in Panama, using ecological modelling. I hope to establish a realistic conservation plan that could be applicable in other countries that share similar threats to non-human primates.

 My PhD project is a collaboration between Durham University, the FCPP, the Instituto para la Formación y Aprovechamiento de los Recursos Humanos de Panamá and the Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de Panamá.

Research Interests

  • Primate Conservation

Selected Publications

Journal Article

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Research Groups

International Collaboration

  • Mesoamerican Primate Thematic Group
  • Neotropical Primates Specialist Group

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