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Sheila Holmes

Sheila Holmes
I am an ecologist studying multi-species communities in environments where humans play a major role in shaping the ecological conditions. I am currently focused on ungulate communities in temperate Sweden and mammalian and avian communities in the tropics of Madagascar.


Sustainable development synergies

I am currently a researcher in the Megafauna and Sustainability (MegaSus) unit of VFM, studying the impact of different reforestation scenarios on the seed dispersing fauna of Madagascar, and the subsequent effect of seed disperser presence on sustainable development.  Specifically, I and my collaborators aim to determine the long-term impact of seed disperser presence on carbon storage, biodiversity, and human livelihoods.  We will then link these sustainable development goals back to landscape, vegetation and faunal community characteristics of reforestation areas to discover how reforestation can synergize climate, biodiversity, and livelihood goals.  


Climate and population performance

Another project that I am currently working on in MegaSus is investigating how climatic variation influences ungulate population performance in Sweden.  As the climate continues to change, we can expect warmer temperatures and increased precipitation in Sweden on average, but also more frequent and intense episodes of temperature and precipitation extremes.  We aim to determine how these shifts may impact Swedish ungulates, particularly the culturally and economically important moose.  This project makes use of long-term and, in some cases, publically available datasets recording weather, plant phenology and chemical composition, and ungulate observations and measurements.  Ultimately, we wish to determine how potential climate-induced changes to populations and communities may influence future ecosystem services of ungulate species and communities. 


Behavioural ecology and spatiotemporal relationships

For over a decade, I managed a lemur ecology and conservation research program in southeastern Madagascar.  This program is a collaboration between the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, University of Calgary, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.  Situated in a recently deforested area, the site is home to a large community conservation and reforestation program, also run by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership.  I developed baseline data on vegetation, lemur community composition, genetics, and behaviour against which to measure the impact of future reforestation and deforestation events.  I also investigated the spatiotemporal relationships of individuals that rely on the same limited food sources in the small areas of remnant habitat; this includes examining group formation within ruffed lemur communities, as well as measuring interactions between three competing species:  ruffed lemurs, red-fronted lemurs, and red-bellied lemurs. While I have stepped back a bit from the every day logistics, my support for this project is ongoing.  

Selected publications

Borgerson C, Johnson SE, Hall E, Brown KA, Narvaez-Torres PR, Rasolofoniaina BJR, Razafindrapaoly BN, Merson SD, Thompson KET, Holmes SM, Louis EE, Golden CD. 2021. International Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1007/s10764-021-00215-5

Holmes SM, Cromsigt JPGM, Danell K, Ericsson G, Singh N, Widemo F. 2021. Declining recruitment and mass of Swedish moose calves linked to hot, dry springs and snowy winters. Global Ecology and Conservation 27: e01594. DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01594

Razanatsoa E, Andriantsaralaza S, Holmes SM, Ratsifandrihamanana AN, Randriamiharisoa L, Ravaloharimanitra M, Ramahefamanana N, Tahirinirainy D, Raharimampionona J. 2021. Fostering local involvement for biodiversity conservation in tropical regions: lessons from Madagascar during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Biotropica 53:994-1003. DOI: 10.1111/btp.12967 

Morelli TL, Smith AB, Mancini AN, Balko EA, Borgerson C, Dolch R, Farris Z, Federman S, Golden CD, Holmes SM, Irwin M, Jacobs RL, Johnson S, King T, Lehman SM, Louis EE Jr., Murphy A, Randriahaingo HNT, Randrianarimanana HLL, Ratsimbazafy J, Razafindratsima OH, Baden AL. 2020. The fate of Madagascar’s rainforest habitat. Nature Climate Change 10:89-96. DOI:10.1038/s41558-019-0647-x

Baden AL, Mancini AN, Federman S, Holmes SM, Johnson SE, Kamilar J, Louis Jr. EE, Bradley BJ. 2019. Anthropogenic pressures drive population genetic structuring across a Critically Endangered lemur species range. Scientific Reports 9: 16276. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-52689-2

Holmes SM, Louis Jr. EE, Johnson SE. 2019. Range overlap and spatiotemporal relationships of frugivorous lemurs at Kianjavato, Madagascar. Animal Behaviour 155:53-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.06.025

Holmes SM, Louis Jr. EE, Johnson SE. 2019. Lemurs in fragmented forests: a conservation and research collaboration. In: A Behie, J Teichroeb, N Malone (Eds.). Primate Research and Conservation in the Anthropocene (pp.165-181). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316662021.010

Borgerson C, Johnson SE, Louis Jr. EE, Holmes SM, Anjaranirina EJG, Randriamady HJ, Golden CD. 2018. The use of natural resources to improve household income, health, and nutrition within the forests of Kianjavato, Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development 13: 9 pages. DOI: 10.4314/mcd.v13i1.6.

Holmes SM, Gordon AD, Louis Jr. EE, Johnson SE. 2016. Fission-fusion dynamics in black-and-white ruffed lemurs may facilitate both feeding strategies and communal care of infants in a spatially and temporally variable environment. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70(11):1949-1960. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-016-2201-4.

Baden AL, Holmes SM, Johnson SE, Engberg SE, Louis Jr. EE, Bradley BJ. 2014. Species-level view of population structure and gene flow for a critically endangered primate (Varecia variegata). Ecology and Evolution 4(13):2675-2692. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1119. 

Holmes SM, Baden AL, Brenneman RA, Engberg SE, Louis Jr. EE, Johnson SE. 2013. Patch size and isolation influence genetic patterns in black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) populations. Conservation Genetics 14(3):615-624. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-013-0455-1.

Brown KA, Johnson SE, Parks K, Holmes SM, Ivoandry T, Abram NK, Delmore KE, Ludovic R, Andriamaharoa HE, Wyman TM, Wright PC. 2013. Use of provisioning ecosystem services drives loss of functional traits across land use intensification gradients in tropical forests in Madagascar. Biological Conservation 161:118-127.