Both Mongolia’s human past and its native species species need more systematic study if we are to truly understand them. As Wingard and coauthors wrote in a recent paper on argali sheep: “Estimating the density or abundance of mountain ungulates is difficult and rarely conducted in a statistically valid manner. The rough terrain they inhabit, their group-living habits, their relatively low density, and the difficulty of marking individuals all contribute to making rigorous estimates of abundance logistically difficult. Raw (uncalibrated) counts are usually reported, and although their drawbacks are often acknowledged, biases are rarely quantified.”
The Local Angle:
Gana Wingard and her team train local biologists and conservationists in wildlife ecology, plant ecology, community ecology, and conservation. This group of trained professionals represents the most important contribution to the conservation effort, as these people will apply what they have learned to their national context far better than any foreign professionals. In addition, they will continue to train other professionals and help grow a culture of rigorous conservation that will increase over time.