Biology Professor Thea Edwards has been awarded a grant from the Coypu Foundation, which was established by John S. McIlhenny in 1988. The Coypu Foundation sponsors research efforts
in wildlife biology all over the world. Dr. Edwards’ grant will support her research in Botswana’s remarkable Okavango Delta, where she will be living for 7 months during 2016. Her work is also supported by a Fulbright Scholarship.
To understand how rising pollution is affecting wildlife and human health in the Okavango, Dr. Edwards will collect an integrated dataset that includes chemical, environmental, physiological, organismal, and ecological information. Data collection will center on red breasted tilapia, which are native to the Okavango, and a common and popular eating fish. Information on tilapia breeding sites, fertility, and heavy metal content will be co-mapped with water quality and land use information. This will allow the research team to identify spatial and temporal patterns of pollution or negative impacts that can then be targeted for improved management and mitigation.
Dr. Edwards is collaborating with Sewanee mapping specialist Dr. Chris Van de Ven, Okavango Research Institute biologists Keta Mosepele and Mike Murray-Hudson, and environmental chemist John Brock, from Warren Wilson College.