NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
16 Oct 2000
- 28.4025 98.8111111
- 46:51 - 49:00
Log of DAT #: 9
Engineer: Bill McQuay
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Interview with Craig Kirkpatrick (1:16:40 --
1:16:40 My name is CK and I'm biodiversity specialist for the Nature Conservancy¿
1:17:13 What is your role in the Great Rivers Project? I was brought on the Great Rivers Project just as they were initiating the project. They had already done the design phase of the project and were starting on-the-ground work with the Chinese scientists. What was needed was somebody to deign a research project to identify the areas of high biodiversity within the Yunnan Great River's Project area which is at about 70000 sq kilometers the size of West Virginia or Ireland. So it was a really big job of working with a bunch of scientists from a bunch of different disciplines, such as zoology, biology, botany. Also scientists who did ethno-botanical work so they could talk about how humans used resources in the area. I had experience in China for a number of years, actually over a decade, having run two research projects before, actually focusing on golden monkeys, which are also found in this area. So I was brought in to help organize than project and to work with our Chinese colleagues to identify the areas of high biodiversity.
1:18:35 Tell me a little bit about the golden monkey. This is what you've spent your professional life, well this part of it anyway, working on. What should people know about golden monkeys? The most important thing about golden monkeys is that they serve as a representative for ecosystems that are tremendously diverse in terms of temperate organisms. So the golden monkey itself isn't quite as interesting as the forest homes it inhabits. What has happened is that this monkey has slowly migrated into temperate areas. Most monkeys live in tropical areas. But this monkey has slowly, over the last 100,000 years migrated into temperate areas and now lives in conifer forests. And as the Himalayas have risen up and as the monkey has wandered further and further into these conifer forests, it has developed really interesting behaviors, such as living in tremendously large groups of 200, which is really unusual for a monkey. It feeds on lichens almost all year, very unusually for any mammal to do that.
1:19:49 Lichens that hand from the trees? Right, it's a little bit like Spanish moss we have in the United States. And this is typically thought of as a fallback food, such as reindeer or squirrels might eat in Washington during winter months as a fallback food. It doesn't have a lot of protein. Lots of carbohydrates, but not a lot of protein. So the monkeys are feeding on this year-round, which means they have a relatively poor diet in terms of nutrition. They actually run a protein-deficit. What happens is in the spring months, when the relatively few deciduous trees come into leaf, they descend on those deciduous trees and completely devour the leaves. It's really quite remarkable to see. But as I say, these monkeys, as interesting as they are, are just examples of ecosystems that contain other organisms that have evolved just as interesting adaptations to these really extreme environmental conditions. So that's why we find here in NW Yunnan, the biodiversity is among the richest temperate biodiversity in the world.
1:21:12 What makes it so rich? Altitudinal gradients and isolational effects¿