James P. Herrera
PhD Candidate in Anthropological Sciences
'The History and Mystery of Life on Madagascar'
Synopsis: The endemic primates of Madagascar, called lemurs, are an exceptional example of evolutionary processes. They are extraordinarily diverse, and ~100 species are currently found in rainforests, dry forests and deserts. Seventeen giant species have gone extinct in the last 2000 years. Lemurs have fascinated researchers since the first natural history studies. How many species are there? How did they diversify in form and function? Did species diversify because of ecological specialization, or were species geographically isolated by rivers and mountains? I approach these research questions from a comparative perspective, testing hypotheses in the framework of the lemur evolutionary tree.
Biography: James P. Herrera became fascinated about primates while working at a zoo. His experience led him to take his first primatology class and eventually to obtain a BA in Biology and Anthropology at the University of Miami in 2009. During a Study Abroad program in Madagascar, James was introduced to Dr. Patricia Wright and her research. He decided to pursue his PhD at Stony Brook to further explore how life on Madagascar came to be. James is currently a Turner Fellow and an AGEP-T Fellow.