During August 2011, Professor Julian C. Kerbis Peterhans, along with researchers from Loyola University and the Field Museum of Natural History, combined efforts with the University Eduardo Mondlane (in Maputo, Mozambique) and the scientific department of Parque Nacional da Gorongosa to conduct surveys of birds, mammals, and their parasites on Gorongosa Mountain.
Valuable specimens of birds and mammals were collected and surveyed for the diversity of organisms that live on and within them. The parasites found in the fur, feathers, blood, intestines, and other organs of these animals will provide an important measure of the presence of diseases in these wild populations. Many of the diseases that affect humans often are derived from pathogens that infect other species so these data on the natural prevalence of these pathogens will be useful in the future to understand how disease-carrying agents might shift hosts to infect other species.
Professor Julian C. Kerbis Peterhans with a bat (Rhinolophus sp.) that was captured in Mozambique on Mt Gorongosa.
Despite a short time on the mountain, more than sixty species of birds, twenty-seven species of mammals, and thousands of ecto- and endo-parasites were sampled. Some of the birds observed during this survey were species not known to occur in this region before, therefore expanding the geographic ranges of these species.
Another goal of the expedition was to train local students and technicians in these surveying techniques. Students from the forestry college in Chimoio and technicians in the scientific department of the Gorongosa Restoration Project learned the methods used to collect and prepare specimens of birds and mammals.
A real treat during the expedition was to have a videographer to document the entire process. Federico Pardo was on hand to take photos and videos and conduct interviews. He will be producing these into short videos to appear on the FMNH and PNG websites in both English and Portuguese.
The trip was also worthwhile in building collaborations and fostering future research opportunities across multiple institutions and countries. Specimens collected on this trip are crucial to study the fauna on Mt. Gorongosa and will be valuable for decades to come.