Andie is a PhD student whose research interests lie in the ecology and population genetics of Asian colobine primates, in particular that of threatened and untended species. For her dissertation, she proposes to study the population genetic variability of three Vietnamese colobine species: black-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nigripes), Indochinese silvered langurs (Trachypithecus germaini), and Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus avunculus). Genetic diversity is recognized as an important component of fitness and population viability and most surviving individuals are suspected to be genetically closely related given that small populations rapidly lose genetic diversity through genetic drift and inbreeding. Endangered species such as these primates have declined to very low numbers and a few populations in the wild. Particularly in these situations, genetic information is often critical for evaluation of the existing animals and for future management. She has previously worked on the banded leaf monkeys (Presbytis femoralis femoralis) in Singapore and Malaysia, and the white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) in Thailand.
Over the last summer, Andie visited six field sites in Vietnam with the help of local research and management collaborators. A typical day would start before dawn, with her trudging through the tangled forest interspersed with rugged cliffs, searching for the acrobatic leaf monkeys. The rare sight of them defecating would send Andie dashing to procure valuable fecal samples, as they constitute a non-invasive way of obtaining important primate DNA data. As the monkeys retreat to their tree houses in the dusk, she would return to her swinging hammock overlooking the South China Sea. In summer 2013, Andie will be going to Vietnam once more to continue her work. Through her research, Andie hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of these charismatic primates and help in their conservation.
For more information on her research, do visit her website at www.andieang.org.