The Arnold Berliner Award 2016 goes to Juan Scheun of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. He receives the award for his research article on the effects of urbanization on the African lesser bushbaby (Galago moholi), published in Springer's flagship multidisciplinary science journal, The Science of Nature. Formerly known as Naturwissenschaften, the journal looks back on over 100 years of publishing scientific work from around the world.
Mostly a loner, the African lesser bushbaby feeds on insects, supplementing its diet with sugar-rich gum of the acacia tree, as well as fruits. When urbanised, the availability of sugar-rich food sources, such as yogurt, catfood and bread, drives the lesser bushbaby to abandon its solitary lifestyle. As a result, the fight for food at a feeding spot increases the level of stress among them. Urbanisation also changes their traveling habits - bushbabies pair up or congregate in groups of up to ten. Having an abundance of sugar-rich food, however, may come at a potential cost. The lesser bushbaby showed significantly higher body mass values compared to their rural counterparts. Juan Scheun and his research team conclude that the impact of urbanisation on this nocturnal species is considerable, affecting a range of ecological and physiological aspects.
Sven Thatje, Editor-in-Chief of The Science of Nature, said, "This is an exciting piece of work that clearly demonstrates how access to food can drive early signs of sociality in a primate species, the lesser African bushbaby."
Juan Scheun received his PhD in zoology and animal biology from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria. His main focus at the moment is conservation ecology and endocrinology of threatened and/or endangered African species.
The Arnold Berliner Award was established in 2013 in recognition of the journal's founding editor. The award is given to the principal author of an outstanding scholarly work published in The Science of Nature in the previous calendar year. Criteria for the Arnold Berliner Award are excellence in science, originality and, in particular, interdisciplinarity, overall mirroring Berliner's motivation for initiating the journal in 1913. Berliner was editor-in-chief of the journal for an exceptionally long period of 22 years. His activities were influential and at the heart of academic life and society of his time.
Peer-reviewed and published in English, The Science of Nature is dedicated to the fast publication and global dissemination of high-quality research of interest to the broader community in the biological sciences. Papers from the chemical, geological and physical sciences, which contribute to questions of general biological significance, are published. The overall aim of The Science of Nature is to promote excellence in research and the exchange of ideas in the biological sciences and beyond.
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