Date published: June 17, 2016

PhD student jets off to Bermuda to measure effect of captivity

When it comes to plans for the summer, student Luiza Passos’s schedule might take some beating!

After a fascinating week at Chester Zoo getting up close and personal with the reptiles, the PhD student is jetting off to Bermuda, where she will spend three weeks on a tropical island nature reserve, before heading off to China to present her research findings.

Out-of-bounds to tourists, tiny Nonsuch Island on Bermuda’s southern tip is one of the world’s undiscovered nature reserves and as near to paradise as you can imagine.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” exudes the 30-year-old. “I choose to study in Salford just for these types of opportunities and I can’t wait.”

Luiza, from Belo Horizonte in Brazil, is working towards her Doctorate in Wildlife Conversation and is fascinated by lizards, frogs and other vertebrates.

Nonsuch Island is known for its endangered seabird – the Cahow – but also is a haven for the Jamaican Anoles Lizard, a popular reptile in zoos for its beautiful bluish green and purple colouring and, according to Luiza “easy to catch!”

“I will trap and observe these lizards and then release them after taking note of a number of factors – colour, hormone levels, communication behaviour and other things. I will then compare these characteristics to our observations of the very same species in Chester Zoo.

“We want to know more about what happens to animals in captivity, what changes they undergo and how that may affect their chances of survival on release back into the wild.”

For instance, it is thought diet in captivity could affect colouration and in turn impact on a specimen’s ability to mate.

Professor Robert Young, Luiza’s supervisor and the reason she came to study at Salford said the partnership with Chester Zoo and the Bermudan authorities offered life-changing opportunities for his research students.

“Trips like Luiza’s come about through years of building contacts around the world, including the Science Without Borders scheme (with the Brazilian government) which has enabled seven young researchers to come to Salford and benefit from these experiences.”

Luiza will present her findings from Chester Zoo and Bermuda at the International World Congress of Herpetology in Hangzhou, China (15-21 August).

Luiza will be providing regular updates throughout her trip which we will be sharing via the University’s social media channels on Twitter @salforduni and @salfordscience – follow to keep up with her adventure.

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