Faculty Mentor: James S. Godde, Professor of Biology
Students: Jonathan Cunningham, Shane Herkert, Emma Johanns, and Kathryn Saulcy
Use of a Landscape Approach to Measure and Mitigate the Effects of Deforestation in Sumatra, Indonesia
We propose the use of a landscape approach to determine the effects of deforestation as well as provide solutions to deal with the alarming rate of forest loss in Sumatra. A landscape approach, broadly defined, means that one takes into account all the features of an area, including its physical, biological, and socioeconomic characteristics when attempting to understand it. Deforestation is a global issue, but in 2015 it was reported that, for the first time on record, Indonesia has surpassed Brazil in the overall rate of deforestation that is taking place in these countries. With 10% of the world’s area of rainforest, Indonesia ranks third among countries possessing this resource. Global innovation to mitigate forest loss in Indonesia is sorely overdue. This project will involve significant interaction and collaboration with the people
We are collaborating with Riau University, a mid-sized public university in the Sumatran province with the highest degree of deforestation (35% reduction since 1985). We have arranged for our group to stay in a village just outside the boundary of Bukit Batu forest for the duration of our proposed project, it is here that much of our interaction with the local populous will take place. We will not only be participating in homestays with local villagers and taking place in the daily routines of the village; our interactions with many of the residents will also be significant. Our Indonesian collaborator, Ahmad Muhammad in the Department of Biology at Riau U., has previously carried out a thorough recording of all the mammal and bird species to be found in Bukit Batu and has experience live-trapping at least eight of these species, a skill that he has promised to pass on to the American students in question. Other practical and professional skills that these students will acquire in the area of setting-up and carrying out field research include placing and monitoring camera traps, collecting animal hair samples, interviewing villagers concerning the wildlife they have encountered, and collecting terrestrial leeches that harbor blood samples. Determining the previous blood meal of captured leeches using molecular techniques can be used to identify the animals that inhabit the area in question. While most science majors at Monmouth College perform individual research projects as capstone experiences, the opportunity for these students to perform such projects in Southeast Asia should significantly contribute to their career and professional preparation by setting them apart from other applicants for jobs or for graduate school. Following a successful completion of our studies, the students will present their work at not only the annual ASIANetwork conference, but also at appropriate scientific conferences in addition.