Julia Sweatman joined both the media and terrestrial teams at Archipelagos in May 2019, soon after she achieved her BSc in biology and global health from the University of Toronto, in Canada. Julia was dually interested in working on the ongoing golden jackals (Canis aureus) projects as part of the terrestrial team, and in creating scientific illustrations for Archipelagos’ growing bank of original species illustrations. The flexibility and adaptability of the internship allowed Julia to work both scientifically and creatively to fulfill her individual goals through diverse means.
She joined the Jackals team at an exciting time: Archipelagos was in the process of monitoring the movement of the canids along their natural corridors and determining road kill hot spots – areas where the jackals were crossing the roads and were likely to be struck by vehicles. Samos island is the only island in the Mediterranean home to the golden jackal; given the geographical barriers preventing migration of these jackals and exchange of genetic material with other populations, their conservation is of special importance. Using camera trap methods and collaborating with Archipelagos’ GIS team, Julia helped to create a map identifying sites where there is a high probability of canids crossing. This project aims to advise on where to install jackal warning road signs in order to conserve and protect this unique canid species on Samos island. Julia also devised a proposal for the ongoing bioacoustics project, which monitors the golden jackals’ population parameters and evaluates their bioacoustics characteristics during their breeding and non-breeding seasons.
In addition to working as a terrestrial researcher, Julia wanted to apply her illustration skills during her internship. Scientific illustrations are an important aspect of species identification and can serve as a key educative tool. The goal of scientific illustrating is to clearly and simplistically represent the species – noting the colour, shape, textures and structures with a high level of attention and detail.
Julia contributed illustrations to a list of invasive species which have been identified in marine and coastal areas of the Aegean where – as the term invasive suggests – they should not reside. These illustrations will be used to create educative media to inform people that these species exist nearby, and will help in the monitoring and management of their presence.
“Now that I’ve come to the end of my internship,” Julia says, “I feel as if I have both challenged myself creatively through my illustrations, and contributed to an important conservation project with the jackals projects. I like that I was able to combine two areas I am passionate about – science and art – and apply them to conservation and species protection.”