I first began studying sloths during 2010 for my undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester, and I quickly discovered just how little is known about these remarkable animals. They live secretive lives high up in the canopy, and as a result, have been very poorly studied in the past. I became fascinated with understanding the fine details of sloth ecology and biology, ranging from the movement and behavioural ecology to population genetics and general physiology. In collaboration with the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, I began a broad study into the behavioural ecology of two-fingered and three-fingered sloths for my PhD through Swansea University. To do this, I monitor the movement and behaviour of wild sloths by tagging them with ‘backpacks’ containing VHF transmitters and state of the art accelerometers. The knowledge gained from this project will be used by the Sloth Sanctuary to improve their conservation program, and I believe that this information will be vital for the development of future conservation strategies in order to better protect existing wild populations.
Areas of Expertise
Cliffe, R. N., Avey-Arroyo, J. A., Arroyo, F. J., Holton, M. D., & Wilson, R. P. (2014). Mitigating the squash effect: sloths breathe easily upside down. Biology letters, 10(4), 20140172.
Ishibashi, S., Cliffe, R. N., & Amaya, E. (2012). Highly efficient bi-allelic mutation rates using TALENs in Xenopus tropicalis. Biology Open, 0, 1 – 4. doi:10.1242/bio.20123228
Cliffe, R. N. (2012) Sloths: Life in the slow lane. The Biological Sciences Review, 25(2)