Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund

Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund

The SDCBF supports conservation initiatives across the globe.

For more information, contact:
Louis Perrotti, Conservation Programs Director
(401) 785-3510 ext. 335

The Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund (SDCBF), established by Roger Williams Park Zoo and the Rhode Island Zoological Society in 1989, supports conservation programs that protect threatened wildlife and habitats worldwide.

Field studies and other projects that demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and projects that involve in-country collaborators receive the highest funding priority. Environmental education programs, development of techniques that can be used in a natural environment, and captive propagation programs that stress an integrative approach to conservation are also appropriate. Projects must directly affect biological conservation.

A decision for the 2015 grantees will be made by October 1, 2014. We apologize for the inconvenience.

2014 Grantees:

Understanding seasonal diet and habitat overlap of musk deer with livestock and assessment of habitat selection
Goal: Habitat management within the protected areas is a key to an effective management and conservation of wildlife. Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) in Nepal appears to face a huge threat and pressure from livestock grazing in the former's habitat calling for a well-informed understanding on potential diet and habitat overlap with the livestock. The proposed project aims to evaluate the potential seasonal diet and habitat overlap between livestock and musk deer via micro-histological analysis and assessment of habitat parameters respectively. The project is expected to aid in habitat management plan and conservation of the species in the wild.

Location: Nepal
Principal Investigator: Kapil K. Khada
Amount Awarded: $955.00


Investigating chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus in symptomatic and asymptomatic infected green sea turtles
Goal: Chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus (CFPHV) is associated with fibropapillomatosis, the most important infectious disease of marine turtles. The purpose of this study is to develop pathogen-specific molecular assays to detect and quantify CFPHV in various sample types; and to implement these assays to identify cryptic sources of transmissible viral particles in specific sample/cell types involved in symptomatic and asymptomatic CFPHV infection. Diagnostic utilization of these assays will identify asymptomatic CFPHV carriers, helping to determine quarantine status and avoid transmission opportunities among rehabilitating turtles. Understanding how CFPHV is shed will assist turtle population managers and rehabilitators in controlling for this devastating disease.

Location: Georgia and Florida
Principal Investigator: Annie Page-Karjian
Amount Awarded: $885.00


Conservation of the African large carnivore guild: experimental investigation of interspecific competition involving spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta)
Goal: The purpose of this project is to investigate spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) behavior involved in resource competition with African large carnivores. This study will experimentally test the impact of several factors (i.e. prey, habitat, carnivore species, sociality) on whether hyaenas initiate or avoid an encounter with competitors, and reveal the relative risks to vulnerable heterospecifics. To develop effective conservation measures for large carnivores, it is essential to understand how species-specific behavioral factors influence inter-species coexistence. Through integration with long-term work by the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, the proposed study will contribute directly to the conservation of large carnivores in Botswana.

Location: Botswana
Principal Investigator: Jessica Vitale
Amount Awarded: $1000.00 


Development of Assisted Reproductive Techniques in the African wild dog
Goal: The African wild dog is an endangered canid with less than 5500 animals remaining in the wild. Despite different strategies undertaken to preserve the species, numbers of free-living animals are still declining. The African Predator Conservation Research Organization (APCRO) and the Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Animals (IBREAM) will work together in the development of semen banking techniques and artificial insemination. The use of a worldwide semen bank, containing semen of genetically underrepresented African wild dogs, will enable us to better regulate captive breeding, optimize genetic diversity in captivity and reduce the need to capture wild living animals.

Location: Botswana
Principal Investigator: Femke Van den Berghe, DVM, Msc
Amount Awarded: $1000.00


Dogs Saving Cats: The Livestock Guarding Dog Program
Goal: The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) has undergone severe decline throughout its range over the past century, often due to livestock-predator conflicts. The Livestock Guarding Dog Program continues to be one of CCF's most successful conservation projects. Since 1994, Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals have been bred, trained and placed on livestock farms as a non-lethal method of predator control. To date, participating farmers have reported up to an 80% decrease in livestock losses. The burden of convincing farmers not to kill or harass a cheetah is greatly reduced when they do not perceive the cheetah as a threat to his/her livelihood.

Location: Turkey
Principal Investigator: Dr. Laurie Marker, DPhil
Amount Awarded: $1000.00


Frog-biting mosquitoes, Culex territans and Uranotaenia sapphirina as vectors of multiple amphibian pathogens
Goal: Pathogens are a leading cause of amphibian population decline and extinction. Anurans commonly found in New England have tested positive for the Chytrid fungus, ranavirus, and typanosomes. Evidence suggests that frog-biting mosquitoes may be vectors of these pathogens. Culex territans and Uranotaenia sapphirina are frog-biting mosquitoes found in New England that could potentially transfer pathogens between anurans and sites. Environemental factors have shown to increase virulence of pathogens and range of vectors, making the geographical distibution important to know in light of climate change. This study will establish frog-biting mosquitoes as vectors of anuran pathogens and will determine the geographical distribution of the chytrid fungus, ranavirus, and trypanosomes in anuran populations and frog-biting mosquitoes by quantitative polymerase chain reaction procedures.
Location: New England
Principal Investigator: Mandy Gaudreau
Amount Awarded: $946.00


Raising Awareness of Endangered Abronia species in Guatemala through Education and the PEFCA Center
Goal: As part of a larger project (Project Abronia) focused on the conservation of Abronia species in Guatemala, the construction and subsequent utilization of the Parque Ecologico Forestal Cerro Alto (PEFCA) Center for Abronia Conservation, Education and Reproduction will greatly enhance our educational programs and awareness campaign. The Center will allow us to increase the number of educational presentations given, increase our conservation footprint through our partner hotels, and will serve the local community with jobs as we plan on training local people to run the day to day operation of the Center.

Location: Guatemala
Principal Investigator: Brad Lock, DVM
Amount Awarded: $1000.00


Primate Protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Supporting Local Leaders in Conservation Education Efforts
Goal: The Centre de Rehabilitation des Primates de Lwiro (CRPL) is presently home to 128 primates that have been rescued from the rampant illegal wildlife trade that plagues the DRC. CRPL is the only sanctuary in the DRC presently accepting endangered chimpanzees and primates, thus considered one of the primary players for conservation in the region. In collaboration with conservation authorities, CRPL aims to pilot educational workshops in local villages on conversation issues, laws and policies to increase the number of people respecting these laws, thereby reducing the number of primates being hunted and arriving at the Centre.

Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Principal Investigator: Dr. Carmen Vidal
Amount Awarded: $868.28


Soil Properties and Vegetation Carbohydrate content on Jackrabbit Inhabited Prairie Grass Areas in South Dakota
Goal: The white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) has a general population decline in states across the USA. It is unsure as to the reasons for population decline and recent research in South Dakota shows that kidney fat index values for the jackrabbit varies seasonally. These results may indicate the importance of carbohydrate content in vegetation, as the vegetation plays a very critical role in pre-natal nutrition and health of the first litter. This project proposes to study the carbohydrate content of vegetation samples from Midwest South Dakota.

Location: South Dakota
Principal Investigator: Kelsey Gilcrease
Amount Awarded: $1000.00


Empowering Communities to Protect Declining Ecosystems: The Kibale Fuel Wood Project and Kibale Eco-Char Initiative
Goal: NNF works to protect Uganda's Kibale National Park by helping safeguard biodiversity and improve people-park relations through empowerment of local citizens. The KFWP works with people at the border of the park by promoting efficient stoves, encouraging native firewood crops, and engaging communities through environmental education. The KECI complements the Foundation's other work by creating cooking fuel from farm waste, reducing the overall need for firewood and directly benefitting Kibale's trees and wildlife. through these programs, sustainable and realistic solutions are offered for conserving the park for future generations.

Location: Uganda, Africa (Communities surrounding Kibale National Park)
Principal Investigators: Mrs. Rebecca Goldstone & Mr. Michael Stern
Amount Awarded: $1000.00