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Masters Student:
Negin Eslamibidgoli

Professional Background

From Micro…

I stepped through the entrance gate of Alzahra University in Iran in September of 2017, with so much love and passion for Biology and a fascination for analyzing behavior (through the lens of Psychology), thinking I could only pursue one of them.

I started my university education in Biotechnology, and I was fortunate to be introduced to a wide range of research topics and fields of study throughout my 3.5 years of undergraduate course. For my Bachelor’s thesis, with the help of my supervisor Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Taghi Razavi Tosee, I prepared a review on The Role of Autophagy Mechanism in the Heart, where we investigated the existing research on this intra-cellular mechanism and its role in promoting or curing heart diseases. If you’re interested to know more about our review study, you can refer to our abstract in the BIMCO Congress Abstracts Book 2021.

I have always been amazed by wildlife; Watching wildlife documentaries or just observing animals around me to see what they would do next and how they would do it have been a hobby of mine for a long time. But it wasn’t until I sat in a classroom and listened to lectures on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology for a semester that I realized I could combine my passion for biology, behavior, and wildlife, and pursue a career that encompasses all of them together.

Over my undergraduate years, I have been introduced to and taught mainly about Molecular Biology and Genetics, which now greatly helps me proceed with my graduate studies. 

In front of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, Alzahra University


To Macro…!
When you hear the word “Macro”, genes and genetics might not be the first concept that comes to mind! However, similar to me, you might find it fascinating how analyzing the molecules responsible for the existence of every organism, a.k.a DNA, could provide you with such vast information about a species on a macro scale.

























As a member of the YakuTan project, my Master’s research focuses on Raccoon Dog (Tanuki, Nyctereutes procyonoides) behavior on Yakushima Island in Kagoshima prefecture. If you have ever visited Japan, or are interested in its culture and history, you might already be familiar with tanuki as it holds a significant place in Japanese folklore, or you might have watched the Ghibli movie dedicated to them, Pom Poko!

Although tanuki is endemic to mainland Japan, they have been introduced to and become invasive in two areas including Yakushima, and Chiburijima on the Oki Islands. However, their behavior and impact on the endemic species of these regions are remarkably understudied.














A less active latrine on the forest floor, on Yakushima Island

Latrine Behavior:  One of the fundamental behaviors of tanuki is that they form latrines, meaning that they defecate in communal spots across their home range. However, this key behavior has not been researched extensively, leaving many questions yet to be answered about the basics of latrine forming. Each latrine could provide valuable information for researchers, as it includes tanuki DNA, the remains of their prey items and other dietary materials, etc. They could also provide information on estimates of tanuki home ranges, their inter and intra-species interactions, cognitive abilities, and so on.

During my Master’s studies, I will investigate Who uses Which latrine, and How.

My three main research themes are:

  1. Are there any patterns in the way male and female tanuki use latrines?

  2. Are there any environmental factors impacting the latrine use? (For instance, do they change how they use latrines based on the change of seasons?)

  3. Identifying the individuals using a latrine, and investigating whether they are related to each other.


Preparing fecal samples for DNA extraction



  1. Sex-determining genes: I will be assessing the presence or absence of genes responsible for gender-specific traits to determine the sexual identity of the latrine users.

  2. Microsatellite marker analysis: Using short repeated sequences in the genome that could vary in length to investigate the individuals’ identity and their relatedness.




I strongly believe in the power of promoting science in various contexts, and to a wide range of audiences. If not because of watching a 4-minute video of how the wolf population in the Yellowstone National Park was restored in 1995, I might have never discovered my love and passion for ecology and wildlife behavior. Therefore, I strongly believe in the magic of exposure in providing understanding and love for wildlife and its importance. I always have and will embrace opportunities to promote wildlife and the science behind it, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have ideas to create opportunities for more exposure to the hidden but colorful world of science! 

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