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April 2024

Green Status internship

We are thrilled to have a small mammal theme for a new placement through Durrell. Salomé has joined us, having previously completed the DESMAN course in Jersey. Salomé is currently based in Colombia. For her internship she is getting to grips with the Green Status of Species and will be developing several small mammal assessments. Having recently updated the Red List accounts for European species, we will be working on a number of these where Green Status assessments would be beneficial.

“I’ll be doing a three-month internship with Durrell, where I’ll be supporting the Specialist Group in conducting Green Status assessments for small European mammals. This incredible opportunity came about through networking efforts following my completion of the Durrell DEMSAN course last April, during which I gained insights into the purpose and significance of Green Status assessments.

SalomeJoining this team is immensely exciting for me as it presents a chance to delve into the process of conducting assessments firsthand. It’s the perfect opportunity to apply the new framework I’ve learned about, which aims to quantify measures of species recovery and conservation success. As an early career conservation biologist, I’m particularly drawn to the Green Status’s focus on understanding how past conservation efforts have impacted species recovery and how current and future actions can contribute to their conservation with a comprehensive and ecologically functional approach. This opportunity will also give me the chance to interact with species specialists and learn about their conservation work on new species for me, which is really exciting!

This aligns perfectly with my overarching goal of comprehending the influence of conservation practices on species recovery. I’m eager to contribute to this innovative approach that transcends survival and extinction avoidance, so I am very excited with the prospect of participating in the development of assessments within this framework.”

The development of the IUCN Green Status of Species Global Standard was led by the IUCN Species Conservation Task Force, in partnership with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Re:wild, Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Oxford, Stony Brook University, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Zoological Society of London.

Crazies for Grazies: SMSG welcomes our first small mammal PhD student

Jamaican Hutia. Photo credit: Ricardo Miller

The Jamaican Hutia (Geocapromys brownii) goes by a few local names, such as the Coney or Grazie. The species is endemic to Jamaica and was moved from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is a rabbit-sized nocturnal rodent with dark brown through to reddish brown fur and is the only remaining extant non-flying mammal on the island.

As it the case for many species, there are likely to be multiple threats, some of which are poorly understood. It is thought that ongoing human-induced habitat loss and degradation across the island, as well as hunting, continue to be major threats to this species. Predation by introduced dogs, cats, and mongoose may also pose a risk.

PhD student 

Jennifer Panitz started on the London DTP , selecting the project this year.

PhD stduent Jennifer Panitz

Jennifer Panitz

“I am a PhD student at the ZSL Institute of Zoology, University College London, and the Natural History Museum London. My project revolves around the Jamaican Coney (Geocapromys brownii) and the sustainability of human-coney co-existence in Jamaica. Previously I completed an MSc in biodiversity, evolution, and conservation at Middlesex University with a project focusing on microplastics in aquatic snails. I also have a PGCert in Applied Meteorology from the University of Reading. Prior to that I worked as an epidemiologist in the COVID-19 response at Public Health England. I have conducted various research projects in Germany, the United States, and Canada.

I am a proponent of interdisciplinary and collaborative methods and am excited to draw on ecological, anthropological, and genomic approaches for my PhD research. I hope to generate data that will help inform Jamaican Coney conservation and preserve small mammal diversity.” 


The project

Along with the other institutions, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is a CASE partner on the PhD project.

The PhD research will use multiple approaches to answer key questions about the ecology and conservation needs for the species, including:

(1) targeted studies of coney ecology, including how hutias utilise both forest and agricultural land in human-occupied landscapes

(2) ancient DNA work to understand the changing genetic status of coney populations through time, to assess the impact of local human pressures such as hunting over the past century

(3) community-based research to understand people’s knowledge and attitudes about local coney  populations, such as the cultural and financial significance of natural resources, in particular, of coney hunting. These will be used to investigate issues around alleviating human-wildlife conflict associated with coneys as crop pests, and with scope to develop a wider-scale interview survey to help understand the species’ distribution and status across different parts of Jamaica through the use of Local Ecological Knowledge.

One of the likely field sites will be in the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park in Eastern Jamaica.


We would like to say a huge thank you to our SMSG core funders for 2024- Re:wild and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.