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April 19, 2005
University Receives Grant for Conservation Project in Paraguay


The University of Dubuque recently received a significant contribution from NAEngineering, Inc./TMR Land Development (Iyad Naffa, President) of San Jose, California for a wildlife conservation project in eastern Paraguay.

The project is based at the Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve and is directed by Dr. Gerald Zuercher, assistant professor of vertebrate ecology at the University of Dubuque. The Mbaracayú Reserve is a 64,000 hectare protected site of highly threatened Atlantic forest habitat, managed by the Fundación Moisés Bertoni, a leading conservation organization in Paraguay. The reserve has been recognized internationally as one where conservation efforts may achieve long-term survival of the native species.

Describing his involvement in the project, Zuercher commented, "This project has evolved from simply an investigation of ecological relationships to a more complex and dynamic union of science and humanity. My role is to provide scientifically sound conclusions from the data to FMB so they may better manage the natural resources with the Mbaracayú Reserve. I hope my commitment to this project reinforces the view that this reserve and wildlife it protects are important."

Zuercher has been working on the ecology of mammalian carnivores at this site since 1998. The current project will address challenges faced by mammalian carnivores in an increasingly fragmented human landscape by determining how these carnivores use available habitats and adapt to changing food resources. Some of the funds from this grant will provide telemetry equipment necessary for tracking the movements of wild animals and will enhance an ongoing investigation of dietary needs. By understanding how these animals use the available habitats and foods, Zuercher hopes to advise the reserve managers in their efforts to protect the wildlife of the area.

"The grant from NAEngineering, Inc./TMR Land Development supports the University's long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship," John Stewart, vice president for academic affairs said, "and will enable Dr. Zuercher and his students to continue their important research on carnivores. It represents a significant contribution towards wildlife conservation and symbolizes Mr. Naffa's dedication to improving the global environment."