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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Dr. Jenny Pastorini

Jenny Pastorini, Dr.

Research Projects

During my PhD and postdoctoral time (1995–2004) my primary research interest was generating DNA sequence data to determine phylogenetic relationships among a variety of primate taxa. Molecular phylogenies give valuable contributions to the understanding of evolution, systematics, biogeography, taxonomy, conservation biology, and allow evaluation of the genetic diversity within and between taxonomic units. The addition of nuclear DNA genotype data (microsatellites) provides a more detailed picture of the population genetic structure, which further elucidates evolutionary patterns and processes.

In 2004 I moved to Sri Lanka and started doing full time research with a small NGO on Asian elephant behavior and ecology. Over the years we have been following the movements of 60+ collared elephants living inside and outside the protected areas across Sri Lanka. The research findings are used to develop strategies to better mitigate the human-elephant conflict and conserve elephants. Our NGO has developed and successfully tested an electric fencing concept, which prevents elephants from crop raiding and entering villages. We are now working with the government to apply the scheme at a level relevant for elephant conservation. I am also heavily involved in the IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group where I serve as editor of the group's journal "Gajah".