2 What is Operation Wallacea? Operation Wallacea is a UK based organization with offices in the US, Canada, China, Australia, South Africa, SE Asia and Malta for the Mediterranean countries, that runs a series of biological and conservation management research programs in 20 remote locations across the world in 9 countries. Opwall is essentially a large team of university academics (more than 200) who design and implement the biodiversity research programmes. The reason the academics are involved is so they can get publications and if they don’t then their universities are not happy with them! The research programmes are funded by tuition fees paid by undergraduates who join the research projects for experience, course credit or to gather data for an undergraduate or Masters level dissertation. The income generated also funds PhD studentships and 40 are currently being funded or have been recently completed. This model of tuition fee funded research over the summer months results in large number of publications in peer-reviewed journals each year, and 30 vertebrate species new to science have been discovered, as well as 4 'extinct' species being re-discovered.What is Operation Wallacea?Tropical scientific expeditions in 9 countries170+ academics running more than 120 projectsResults published in peer-reviewed journals2
3 What is Operation Wallacea? 30 new vertebrate species to science discoveredLarge temporal and spatial data sets obtained from tuition fee funded modelData used to assess the performance of conservation management programsThese large survey teams of academics and volunteers that are funded independently of normal academic sources have enabled large temporal and spatial biodiversity and socio-economic data sets to be produced, and provide information to help with organising effective conservation management programmes. Note all the pictures you see in this presentation were taken by staff and volunteers on the project.
4 Global Research and Conservation Strategy Stage 1 - Assessing ecosystem diversity and functionStage 2 - Monitoring ecosystem changeStage 3 - Monitoring socio-economic changeStage 4 - Establishing & monitoring the effectiveness of conservation management programsThe purpose behind the surveys is to provide accurate data on biodiversity and then use these data to lever funds to establish best practice examples of conservation management. So at each site a 4 stage process is followed. In the first few years the objective is to identify whether the site being studied has biological value - if not there is little point in continuing with the surveys but if there is value then the next stage is then to establish a widespread monitoring programme to determine how the communities of key taxa or population levels of key species are changing over time (stage 2). If this reveals a continuing decline then a programme for monitoring socio-economic change in adjacent communities is established to determine how these communities interact with the study site (stage 3). Once these stage 2 and stage 3 data are obtained funding applications are submitted via the Operation Wallacea Trust (a UK registered charity) to establish a best practice example of conservation management and the success of these programmes are then monitored (stage 4). There is obviously some considerable overlap between these stages and stage 1 projects can still be running in addition to a stage 4 programme in order to add data to understanding the ecosystem requirements of target species or adding to the overall species lists for previously un-worked taxa.
5 The research programmes are now running at 25 sites across 11 countries. In Indonesia there are two sites in endemic rich lowland rainforest and one on the most biologically diverse reef systems in the World. In Africa there are 5 bush veld (four low veld, Thanda/Intibane, Pongola and two sites in Kruger and one high veld, Welgevonden) sites and one reef site. In Mozambique there is another reef site and from 2013 a new bush site in the Maputo Special Reserve whilst in Egypt we have a mountain desert site and a reef site in the Red Sea. In Madagascar we have sites in dry forest, spiny forest and a reef site. In South America we have sites in Amazonian rainforest and in Guiana Shield rainforest at Iwokrama. In Central America we have a reef site in Cuba and cloud forest and two contrasting reef sites in Honduras and a site in the Mayan forests and another at the northern end of the Meso-American Barrier reef in Mexico. In addition a new site in 2012 is starting in the foothills of the Carpathians in Transylvania. This not only provides a lot of choice for volunteers wanting to join the program but also enables similar studies completed on the same habitats in different parts of the World to be compared.Indonesia (3), South Africa (6), Mozambique (2), Egypt (2), Madagascar (3), Peru (1) Guyana (1), Honduras (3) Mexico (2), Cuba (1), Transylvania (1)5
6 Team Members Principal Researchers Assistant Researchers Visiting AcademicsDissertation StudentsResearch AssistantsMedical StaffPre–med Expedition MedicineOperations StaffThe principal researchers are the 170+ academics who participate in the programme each year. We are also part funding 35 PhD students from universities such as Oxford, Essex, Kent etc and these act as Assistant Researchers. The Dissertation Students and Research Assistants are university students.We have doctors, accident and emergency nurses or paramedics at each of the sites to provide the medical cover needed to support the expeditions. This enables us to run an expedition medicine experiential programme, offering pre-meds a chance to experience real life, hands on expedition medicine as well as help with biodiversity surveysThere are large numbers of Operations staff needed from experienced camp managers to dive instructors. A number of these are drawn from ex volunteers who start as assistant staff and over the years build up experience until they are taken on as staff. Nearly all the full time staff with Op Wall have started as volunteers in the field.
7 Joining as a Research Assistant Course credit availableGain experience for CV or for helping to choose career directionFixed Itineraries (Madagascar, Egypt, Guyana, Mexico, Peru, South Africa)Personalized Itineraries(Indonesia, Honduras)Pre–med: Expedition Medical courseThere are two main ways in which you can join the expeditions – as a Research Assistant or to gather data for your own senior thesis or capstone project. This section will discuss how you join as a Research Assistant and the last part of the talk will describe how you join to gather data.Those students joining as Research Assistants must be in or have completed tertiary education and many join to gain field experience of working in the Tropics with a range of field biologists. In addition the experience can be used to strengthen resumes or to check out what it is like to conduct field research to determine if doing a Masters and developing a career in field biology is for them. The experience can also be used to gain course credit. Many universities will offer course credit for independent study for participating in the program and indeed in some the experience counts towards the international or community credit elements that are a requirement for some courses and universities. If internal credit cannot be obtained easily then external approved credit can usually be organized through St Andrews University (Scotland). St Andrews is one of the oldest Universities in the World (established somewhere between 1410 and 1413) and offers externally assessed course credit through their course BL3400 Tropical Research and Field Study Module for students going for 4 weeks to the Indonesia, Honduras, South Africa and Peru expeditions . You have to spend one week on an approved training course (note dive training does not count) and 3 weeks on Research Assistant projects. The course is assessed from the exam at the end of the compulsory course (20%), assessment of the contribution by the student from each of the academics running project where the student has contributed as a Research Assistant for a week or longer (10%), marking of the field diary kept by the student (20%) and 50% from an essay on one of the field research topics. St Andrews will award 20 course credits for the 4 weeks (equivalent of credits at US universities) and you will receive a graded transcript that can be used towards your GPA. The costs is £600 for the course credit (approx $900). Note you don’t have to do course credit to participate as a Research Assistant.There are three types of Research Assistant program – those where the program is of a fixed length (usually 4 weeks and occasionally 2 weeks) and the participants are part of a single small team all working together on agreed tasks. This is true of the Madagascar, Egypt, Cuba, Guyana, Mexico and Peru research programs.The second type of involvement is in the larger research programs where there are more scientists participating giving volunteers the option of developing their own individualized itinerary for 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeks and in most countries of combining options from the forest or savannah with marine based options.The third type of involvement is for Pre-meds and combines a course on expedition medicine with biodiversity monitoring
8 MadagascarLet’s start with the fixed itinerary countries. In Madagascar volunteers need to join for 4 weeks and will be based in the village camp of Ifotaka, which they will get to following about 5 hours travel on the sandy roads between Fort Dauphin. You fly first to Antananarivo and then take an internal flight to Fort Dauphin. The area surrounding Ifotaka is recognised as an international conservation priority due to its high biodiversity and the presence of a number of rare and endemic plants and animals. It is currently protected through a community managed program funded by WWF. However there is a desperate need for biological monitoring in order to assess the effectiveness of the existing management programme, and to create a baseline of data to afford comparisons in future years. Operation Wallacea have been asked to design and run this monitoring programme for the “Nord Ifotaka” area and in 2011 the first surveys were completed. The 2012 surveys will be extending the range of the survey work
9 Spiny Forest Biodiversity Survey Data gathered for Biosphere application for Mandrare ValleyMadagascar Wildlife and Communities course in Week 1Rotate between camps across Ifotaka NorthScan and focal sampling of Verraux’s Sifaka and Ring Tailed LemursSpotlight and trapping surveys for nocturnal lemursMadagascarLet’s start with the fixed itinerary countries. In Madagascar volunteers need to join for 4 weeks and will be based in the village camp of Ifotaka, which they will get to following about 5 hours travel on the sandy roads between Fort Dauphin. You fly first to Antananarivo and then take an internal flight to Fort Dauphin. The area surrounding Ifotaka is recognised as an international conservation priority due to its high biodiversity and the presence of a number of rare and endemic plants and animals. It is currently protected through a community managed program funded by WWF. However there is a desperate need for biological monitoring in order to assess the effectiveness of the existing management programme, and to create a baseline of data to afford comparisons in future years. Operation Wallacea have been asked to design and run this monitoring programme for the “Nord Ifotaka” area and in 2011 and 2012 the first surveys were completed. The 2013 surveys will be extending the range of the survey workDuring their first week volunteers will complete a Madagascar Wildlife Ecology course which consists of a series of lectures with practicals in the field to demonstrate the different survey techniques and to learn the identification of some of the commoner species. This course is important because the fauna of Madagascar is just so different to anywhere else. Madagascar was only settled by Man around 200 years ago. When Man arrived he found a fauna that had been untouched by Man’s influence for 100 million years since Madagascar split from the great Continent of Gondwana. The island had some huge species like the elephant bird that stood 3m tall and weighed half a ton! There were also lemurs the size of gorillas, giant tortoises and dwarf hippos – now all extinct at the hands of Man.Shrews, moles and hedgehogs are absent from Madagascar so a group of primitive mammals – tenrecs – have diversified to fill these niches. Five of the tenrecs are spiny like hedgehogs and 19 are furred and fill the shrew niches. There are 3 species that behave like moles and even one species that has become aquatic catching small fish. But of course Madagascar is best known for it’s lemurs. Lemurs evolved about 40 to 50 million years ago and must have colonised Madagasar after the split from Africa. These primitive primates are known as Prosimians and in Africa were replaced by modern monkeys about 10 million years ago. However, modern monkeys never reached Madagascar so the Lemurs continued to thrive and diversify. There are 86 species of lemurs still surviving on MadagascarThe area to the North of Ifotaka will be surveyed mostly using the small pathways through the spiny forest that the locals use when trekking between communities. 4 x 3km sample routes will be mapped out and these will be used for the faunal and forest structure surveys. The students will stay at different camps across the reserve in tents with field toilets and showers.One of the projects is completing behavioural obsevrations on the Verreaux’s Sifakas and Ring-tailed Lemurs ad doing spotlight and live trapping surveys for nocturnal lemur species.
10 Spiny Forest Biodiversity Survey Invasive plant surveysVegetation surveys using Gentry plotsBird point counts and mist nettingIguana activity budgetsDay time and spotlight surveys for chameleon diversityMadagascarThe bird surveys are being done from point counts and mist nettings, chameleon surveys from daytime and night time transectsiguana species activity budgets from focal sampling and physiological experiments, vegetation surveys using Gentry plots to provide detailed descriptions of the species diversity and physical structure of trees and bushes in each main habitat type. In addition transects are completed to quantify the level of invasive species (eg Prickly Pear cactus, Sisal) and distribution of rare species. Volunteers can rotate between these survey groups throughout their stay in order to develop a wide range of skills.
11 EgyptA second fixed 4 week itinerary project is to Egypt where volunteers will be working in the mountains of the southern Sinai peninsular – one of the most important biodiversity areas in middle East with the whole area designated as a Protectorate. The first 3 weeks are spent in the mountain desert with the last week at the Nature and Science Foundation marine camp close to Nuweiba on the Red Sea.Volunteers fly to Sharm el Sheikh and are transferred by bus to St Katherine (3 hours) to stay in Fox Camp, a Bedouin camp on the edge of the mountain community for the first 3 days. Volunteers staying at this camp can be in twin bed rooms with shared bathroom facilities although many chose to sleep outside in the large open tents. There is running water with toilets and a shower system on site. The first 3 days are spent getting acclimatised to the heat and learning about desert ecology and desert survival techniques. For the next 10 days the groups will be trekking one of the trek routes that have been designed to cover as many as possible of the 10km x 10m squares that still need survey effort. This is an amazing opportunity to see some of the most spectacular scenery and wildlife in Egypt. The groups will be living in temporary Bedouin camps around oases.
12 Mountain Desert Biodiversity Survey Data contributing to biodiversity atlas survey of St Katherine ProtectorateDesert living training in first 3 days4 days surveying in mountain desert and living in Bedouin campsSurveys are for target plants, reptiles and bird surveys from transects, small mammal trapping, grazing pressure of ibex, etc.EgyptA second fixed 2 week itinerary project is to Egypt where volunteers will be working in the mountains of the southern Sinai peninsular – one of the most important biodiversity areas in middle East with the whole area designated as a Protectorate. The first week is spent in the mountain desert with the last week at the Nature and Science Foundation marine camp close to Dahab on the Red Sea.Volunteers fly to Sharm el Sheikh and are transferred by bus to St Katherine (3 hours) to stay in Fox Camp, a Bedouin camp on the edge of the mountain community for the first 3 days. Volunteers staying at this camp can be in twin bed rooms with shared bathroom facilities although many chose to sleep outside in the large open tents. There is running water with toilets and a shower system on site. The first 3 days are spent getting acclimatised to the heat and learning about desert ecology and desert survival techniques. For the next 4 days the groups will be trekking one of the trek routes that have been designed to cover as many as possible of the 10km x 10m squares that still need survey effort. This is an amazing opportunity to see some of the most spectacular scenery and wildlife in Egypt. The groups will be living in temporary Bedouin camps around oases.The survey groups are divided into teams each day, and will be surveying for plants from quadrat surveys, reptiles from standard search times, transect surveys for birds, assessing mammal usage from spoor and scat and mist netting for bats and using bat detectors during night time surveys.
13 Red Sea Reef Ecology Course EgyptFor the second week there is the opportunity to go to a Bedouin camp on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba where there is a chance to spend a week learning to dive, or, if already qualified or not wishing to dive, to complete a reef ecology course. Accommodation will be in air conditioned rooms in the Happy Life hotel – which will be a contrast to the previous week sleeping out in the desert! The dive course will train students up to PADI Open Water level. This is the internationally recognised entry level qualification for SCUBA diving, and the course consists of theory work, confined water training (conducted just off shore in the shallows) and at least 4 Open Water dives. The reef ecology course (for those already dive trained or those who would prefer to snorkel) consists of daily lectures and in-water practicals (diving or snorkelling). The course is designed to give a comprehensive introduction to the marine ecology of this part of the world – training participants in identification of corals, fish, and invertebrates.For the second week the team will move to the NSF Marine Training Camp just south of Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba. Here the group will be staying in tents on the beach and will be either completing a PADI Open Water dive training course or if already dive trained or not wanting to dive, will do a Red Sea Reef ecology course which is a series of lectures with in-water practicals done by diving or snorkelling.Red Sea Reef Ecology Course
14 GuyanaThe Guiana Shield is a massive granite dome that formed 2 billion years ago during the Precambrian period and which now underlies Guyana (previously British Guiana), Suriname (previously Dutch Guiana) and French Guiana (or Guyane), as well as parts of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. The Guiana Shield is one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world with 1400 vertebrate species and 1680 bird species and is overlain by the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical rain forest in the world with 2.5 million square kilometres of forest. Whilst most of the Shield is covered by forest there are also large savannas, wetlands and a series of tepuis (flat top mountains). The Guiana Shield has been preserved because the area has low human population densities, is largely inaccessible and has low agricultural potential.
15 Guiana Shield Forest Biodiversity Surveys Data being used to assess effects of selective logging on biodiversityBased in remote forest field campsWeek 1: Guiana Shield forest ecology and jungle survival courseWeeks 2 & 3: Working from 2 different campsMist netting for birds and batsHerpetofauna surveys – transects & spotlightingLarge mammal transect surveysGuyanaThe Guyana forests offer the best chance of seeing jaguar, puma, giant anaconda and a range of other potentially dangerous species. Note Guyana is not for the faint hearted and is really for those who want a deep forest experience. This photo was taken by Jake Bicknell one of the Opwall staff when the jaguar was about 20m away and still coming. Not sure I would have carried on taking photos but he did survive – the jaguar moved off!Operation Wallacea has formed a partnership with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development that manages one million acres (371,000ha) of undisturbed forests in the centre of the country. The Iwokrama Forest is divided into roughly half Sustainable Utilization Area (SUA), where sustainable use of forest resources are permitted and tested, and half Wilderness Preserve (WP), where there is no commercial extraction of forest resources. A monitoring programme providing equal coverage of the SUA and WP parts of the Iwokrama Forest as well as the forests surrounding Surama Village has been initiated, and is being completed annually by the Opwall survey teams. The purpose of this monitoring is to provide long-term data sets on the abundance and diversity of key biodiversity taxa so that the impacts of sustainable use within Iwokrama and the forest surrounding Surama can be identified in comparison with the non-utilised wilderness areas. Over time, the effects of climate change and climate fluctuations (in particular El Niño Southern Oscillation patterns) should also be identifiable from these data sets. Additionally, these surveys provide survey coverage of parts of the Iwokrama Reserve and adjacent areas where there has been little previous survey work and may therefore provide additions to the species list for the area.The teams will be based in remote forest camps for 3 weeks changing camps each week. In these camps accommodation will be in hammocks with bashas and integral mosquito nets. There are temporary field toilets and washing will be done in the rivers.In the first week of the survey the group will be completing a Jungle Training and Guiana Shield Forest Ecology course. The course is designed to prepare the group for living and working in the forest and to be of practical use in the surveys. Half the week will be spent in forest camps staying in hammocks and learning how to live safely and healthily in the tropical forest. The other part of the course will be a series of lectures on the wildlife and ecology of the fauna and flora likely to be encountered as well as learning how to identify some of the commoner speciesFor two of the next three weeks the group would be based in one of the field camps. The teams will move at the end of each week and will be helping with the surveys at each camp and along their radiating transects. At each site the transects radiating out from the camp in different directions will be used for the surveys. Mist nets will be set for understorey birds during the day and bats at night. Herpetofauna surveys will be completed from day and night time searches along each transect and streams. Large mammal and bird surveys will be completed from separate standardised searches along the transects. The transects will be surveyed daily to provide sufficient sample sizes to statistically analyse the faunal community dynamics of the forest.
16 Burro Burro River Surveys GuyanaIn the last week the team will be divided into groups of 5 students and will be travelling in convoy in small boats along the Burro Burro River through the heart of the Iwokrama rainforest. This is a deep forest experience and the teams will be camping out on the river bank in hammocks and helping the boat drivers and guides porter the boats around rapids and to navigate around fallen trees. The purpose of this trip is to gather standardised data on the Giant River Otters, Caiman, Anaconda and water birds (eg kingfishers, herons, egrets, ducks, cormorant, terns etc) encountered as well as various indicators of human disturbance.The wetlands contain arapaima one of the largest freshwater fish in South America. Arapaima can reach lengths of more than 2 m (6.6 ft), in some exceptional cases even more than 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and over 100 kg (220 lbs). The fish is an air-breather, using its lyberinth organ, which is rich in blood vessels and opens into the fish's mouth, an advantage in oxygen-deprived water and arapaima are able to survive in shallow waters with dissolved oxygen as low as 0.5 ppm. You will see these giant arapaima surfacing to gulp air as you travel the rivers.Burro Burro River Surveys
17 MexicoAnother option is to join a small team working in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to conduct survey in the Mayan forests. The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico is a huge expanse of tropical forest that is continuous with the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala. Collectively, this forest spans over 7.5 million hectares and is the largest section of tropical forest north of the Amazon. This stretch of forest was also home to the two largest ancient Mayan cities of Tikal in Guatemala and Calakmul in Mexico during the classic period in ancient Mayan history (400AD-900AD). Today, the extensive pyramids and ruined cities lie sprawled through the dense jungle, with some of the taller pyramids towering above the canopy at 65m in height. Wildlife in Calakmul includes jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi, tapir, brocket deer, peccary, howler and spider monkeys in addition to over 50 species of reptile and amphibian and 350 species of resident and migratory birds, including abundant parrots, toucans and the endemic ocellated turkey.
18 Mayan Forest Biodiversity Surveys First large-scale surveys of the vast Calakmul Biopshere.Data collected for REDD+ application and data for setting sustainable hunting quotasMayan forest ecology course and visit to the Mayan ruins in Week 1Butterfly and moth surveysMist netting for birds and batsPitfall traps and transect searches for herpetofaunaTransect sampling and camera trapping for mammalsMexicoAnother option is to join a small team working in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to conduct survey in the Mayan forests. The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico is a huge expanse of tropical forest that is continuous with the Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala. Collectively, this forest spans over 7.5 million hectares and is the largest section of tropical forest north of the Amazon. This stretch of forest was also home to the two largest ancient Mayan cities of Tikal in Guatemala and Calakmul in Mexico during the classic period in ancient Mayan history (400AD-900AD). Today, the extensive pyramids and ruined cities lie sprawled through the dense jungle, with some of the taller pyramids towering above the canopy at 65m in height. Wildlife in Calakmul includes jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi, tapir, brocket deer, peccary, howler and spider monkeys in addition to over 50 species of reptile and amphibian and 350 species of resident and migratory birds, including abundant parrots, toucans and the endemic ocellated turkey.The primary objective of the Operation Wallacea project is to assess the biodiversity and carbon biomass of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in order to obtain funding from the UN REDD+ scheme. This funding will be used to protect the forest by increasing forest patrols and providing sustainable economic development for buffer zone communities so they are less reliant on forest resources. Surveys will be conducted at the main base camp and remote forest camps throughout the reserve, which gives the opportunity to see how the forest and wildlife change from the dryer northern sections of the reserve to the more humid forest in the south. Carbon biomass estimates will be produced by taking a range of tree measurements in survey plots throughout the reserve. Biodiversity assessment will focus on six key groups: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), reptiles, amphibians, birds, bats, and large mammals. Moths will be monitored from light traps and butterflies from pollard counts. Reptiles and amphibians will be monitored using pitfall traps in survey plots, and diurnal active searches and nocturnal spotlight surveys along forest transects. Birds will be assessed using point counts and mist netting and bats will be monitored using mist nets. As large mammals occur at high densities in Calakmul, mammal surveys will be a major component of the project. Mammal monitoring data will provide valuable information relating to the ranging patterns of primates, jaguar, puma and tapir and may be used to calculate sustainable hunting quotas for deer and peccary. Large mammal surveys will involve recording mammal sightings and mammal tracks encountered along forest transects and data obtained from camera trapping throughout the forest. Note that if you want to specialise in bats and learn how to handle the animals then you will need a full course of rabies vaccinations before joining the expedition..18
19 Forest Elements of the Mexico Programme There are 4 or 6 week expeditions, three of which involve time helping with surveys in these forests followed by the opportunity to dive with turtles in Akumal.The two primate species that inhabit the park are the Yucatan spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis) and the Yucatan black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra yucantanensis) both sub-species of their Central American relatives. Neither species is particularly vulnerable to hunting, but for very different reasons. Howler monkeys basically don’t taste very nice so they are not a preferred food source. This is lucky for them because they don’t move very fast and are very easy to find due to their roaring vocalizations so they are certainly very easy to hunt! Spider monkeys are generally not hunted by the Maya due to their semi-sacred status. According to the Mayan creation story, spider monkeys were God’s second attempt at making humans. Although he was not entirely satisfied with his work (and went on to make humans with the assistance of the jaguar, eagle, serpent and crocodile gods) he really rather liked the creatures he had made and named them the wood people and kept them. Thus spider monkeys are created by God’s hand and you will see lot of ancient Mayan symbols showing a spider monkey that looks a bit like a man dancing that depicts this.However, spider monkeys are severely threatened by habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Due to their rather picky diet and large size, spider monkeys are only found in old growth forest and our one of the first species to disappear when the habitat becomes disturbed. They are particularly popular with the illegal pet trade because they are extremely intelligent monkeys and are quick to form close bonds with their owners. Sadly the reason for this is that the standard method for capturing spider monkeys for the pet trade is to find a mother with a young infant on her back, shoot the mother dead and rip the baby off her back. As the infants have extreme separation anxiety they imprint on anyone who shows then affection. They can make mischievous, but otherwise OK pets for up to 8 years, but once they reach sexual maturity at around 8 years of age they become extremely aggressive and cannot be kept as pets. By this time they have no hope of being returned to the wild because they have no idea how to be a spider monkey and as they live for up to 40 years they face a miserable existence tied up outside the house and ignored or stuck in overcrowded and poorly funded zoos.Pronatura and the Mexican Primate Society are working hard to change peoples perceptions towards keeping spider monkeys as pets and are helping to improve living conditions in zoos, but standardized surveys of these animals in their natural habitat is the only way to monitor the wild population and ensure that the populations remain viable.Forest Elements of the Mexico Programme
20 Marine Elements of the Mexico Programme Akumal is a small coastal town approximately 1.5 hours drive south from the major tourist destination of Cancun. Akumal is formed mainly by bays, beach zones, and different marine ecosystems including the coral reef and the permanent presence of charismatic species such as sea turtles, fish and other rare species. The name Akumal literally means “home of the turtles” in Maya. It earned this name due to the numerous turtle nesting sites along the bays located in the Akumal area and due to the permanent presence of juvenile turtles in the sea grasses just off shore.The coral reefs in Akumal are one of the few areas of reefs in the Yucatan that have not been notably damaged by hurricanes or pollution from hotel developments. In addition, the beaches and sea grasses are a safe haven for nesting sea turtles. Centro Ecological Akumal (CEA) is gathering the data necessary to award Protected Area status to the beaches, lagoons and reefs of Akumal. Protected area status is needed for the sustainable management of fisheries and tourism, which in their current form, are a major threat to the marine ecosystem. The marine ecosystem monitoring programme focuses on an integrated coastal system using video surveys for monitoring coral cover, levels of bleaching and disease and benthic communities, turtle monitoring and monitoring of fisheries and tourism in the bays, lagoons and reefs. The data collected will be used to determine the biodiversity value of the reefs, to assess the impact of tourism and water quality on the reef system, to assess the impact of commercial and sport fishing on reef fish populations, to assess the relative importance of Akumal beaches and sea grasses for sea turtle populations, and to calculate the tourism carrying capacity for the area. Students participating in this monitoring programme will have an active schedule that involves dive or snorkel based reef surveys, dive based surveys for reef fish communities and benthic communities, snorkel surveys of turtle use of sea grasses, nocturnal turtle nesting surveys, fisheries monitoring and daytime beach and lagoon patrols. Students will also contribute to daily data entry and assist with the creation of field reports on tourism.There are seven species of sea turtle in the world, all of which are either threatened or endangered. México is home to six of these species, four of which can be seen off the coast of Quintana Roo. Three species can regularly be found around Akumal. Local beaches are nesting ground for two of these species: the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta Caretta) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas). Year-round you can find juvenile green turtles feeding in our bays and sometimes you can see the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricate) around the reef.Marine Elements of the Mexico Programme
21 PeruThe Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the largest protected area in Peru spanning over 20,000 km2 of tropical rainforest and is a truly exceptional wilderness area. Situated deep in the rainforests of the western Amazon basin, at the point where the Amazon River begins its long journey to the Atlantic Ocean, the reserve teems with aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. The two major rivers that bind the reserve are the Ucayali and Marañon, and they join to form the Amazon proper right at the point where the reserve begins. The huge floodplains of these majestic rivers have produced the low-lying flooded forests (Varzea) of the reserve, much of which is accessible on foot during the dry season surveys. The core areas of the reserve with no exploitation permitted are at the most upstream end. At the downstream end, there are communities of Cocama Indians who are involved in reserve management and managing resources in non-core zone areas sustainably. The Samiria River that runs through the heart of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve has a particularly large population of river dolphins and is the last remaining refuge for the Amazon manatee. Giant river otters are also returning and every year more are sighted in the rivers, lakes and channels.
22 Amazonian Forest Surveys Data collected for REDD+ application and data for setting hunting quotasBased on research shipsAmazonian wildlife conservation course in week 1Bird mist netting and water bird transectsRiver dolphin surveysFish community surveysPeruThe entire research expedition, including accommodation and travel to the field site, will be based on board one of various research vessels: Clavero, Rio Amazonas, Nutria, Pithecia and Ayapua. AmazonEco, the Opwall partners in Peru, have restored these historical rubber boom boats. The boats have fan-cooled cabins (which can accommodate 2-8 participants in bunk-beds), dining areas, a small research library on the larger boats, and plenty of open deck space. There is limited generator power during the evenings providing an opportunity for participants to recharge laptops or camera batteries. This makes travel and working in even the most remote part of the Amazon a reasonably comfortable experience. The boats operate in small groups, so during the time you are on site you may have to change boats depending on the research schedule.In addition to the research boat on which you will be living, there are many auxiliary boats (e.g. wooden and aluminium canoes) used to access the various data collection points.Volunteers are taken by bus from Iquitos to Nauta. At that point, you will either join a larger research boat going up to the reserve or be taken by speed boat to join a research boat already in the reserve. The larger research boats take approximately hours (depending on river conditions) to reach the research site and the speed boat (with toilet and pack lunches) around 12 hours. On the journey to site and in the evenings on site the students will complete an Amazonian Wildlife Conservation course. This course is designed to give you an introduction to Amazonian wildlife, the survey techniques used to assess the diversity of various taxa and conservation management techniques that are producing results in Amazonia. The course consists of a series of lectures and field based practicals and aims to teach you the survey techniques and main species likely to be encountered in groups such as freshwater fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, freshwater mammals, exploitation rates of large mammals and birds and primate population and behaviour studies. In addition the course covers a series of examples of conservation management in Amazonia.There is a large team of mainly Peruvian researchers based on the research ship with nine different research programmes running. Each night the various scientists write up on a whiteboard the timings for their projects and the volunteers they need for the following day to complete various research tasks. Research Assistants signing up for the various projects will help on all the projects over the course of their stay. There is a strong research atmosphere on the boat with teams coming and going at all times of day and night on various research tasks.Research tasks which require volunteer manpower include: transect surveys for the abundant Pink and Grey River Dolphins and an elusive population of manatees at this site, gill net surveys of fish communities,.
23 Amazonian Forest Surveys Amphibian surveysMacaw countsLarge mammal transectsCamera trappingRiver turtle population counts and nest transferring (water level dependent)Primate niche separation and time budgetingPeruStandardised searching surveys to characterise the amphibian communities, land based transect counts of primates, large mammals and game birds as indicators of levels of exploitation, checking 20 camera traps run at a variety of habitats, mist netting surveys of the bird communities utilising the forest understory, transect counts of wading birds, point counts of macaws as indicators of forest fruiting and, depending on water level, monitoring river turtle nesting sites and habitat selection by the Yellow-spotted River Turtle.There are 12 species of primates in the Reserve, many of which are commonly sighted on the terrestrial and aquatic transects. In addition assistance may also be required on some of the behavioural data observations on the primate species.
24 PeruIn addition there are spotlight surveys for caimans and diet studies of this species (which necessitates capture of the caimans through noosing), To assess the population and ecology of caiman species in the ecosystem it is necessary to gain an understanding of their population size. Aquatic transects are surveyed on the main river at night. All caimans seen are identified their size estimated and location noted. These data, along with data collected from captured caimans are used to analyze the caiman population size. Caiman surveys and captures are conducted from a small boat fitted with a 15-horsepower engine. Caimans are located by their eye reflections using a 12-volt spotlight and approached to a distance where the engine is silenced and the boat paddled closer. Noosing is used to capture caimans. The noose is made of a long pole about 2 m in length with a loop of rope that can be pulled tight over the caiman’s neck. The caimans are then be secured with rope tied around the jaw behind the nostrils and around the neck and the stomach contents regurgitated so that diet analysis can be conducted.Caiman Surveys
25 South AfricaThe South Africa research programme covers a series of reserves across the country, each using slightly different management strategies to tackle the problem of controlling their elephant populations. The majority of big game areas in South Africa are fenced in order to avoid conflicts between communities and Kruger is generally regarded to be the best Park in southern Africa in terms of size, quantity of game and management. However, this restricts movement of species such as elephants, which can lead to excessive habitat damage within reserves where elephant feeding pressure is too high.Research assistants are working in one of two sites either the Mdluli Concession in Kruger Park or Thanda in KwaZulu Natal. The Mdluli Concession is in the south western sector of the Park and students based here will be staying at the Insikazi Bush Camp. The camp is surrounded by a fence electrified at night to deter elephant, rhino and buffalo. Accommodation is in dome safari tents with mattresses. Bathroom facilities are in a separate toilet and shower block. There is a large central mess tent where meals are taken and a separate research tent for lectures and invertebrate identification.The Thanda Reserve in KwaZulu Natal is an up market game reserves with high end tourist lodges. Thanda is a Big Five reserve (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) and accommodation is in dorms in the fenced Intibane Research Centre. The camp has shared shower and toilet blocks and there is a spectacular centre where meals are taken and training lectures delivered.
26 Elephant Carrying Capacity Surveys Two low veld sites – one in Kruger and one in Thanda in KwaZulu NatalHow do you determine elephant carrying capacityBush training and savannah ecology course in week 1Week 2 onwards field surveys for half a day each dayOther half in camp completing African wildlife conservation courseSouth AfricaThere are a number of different approaches being taken to the problem of growth in elephant numbers. The first question that needs addressing is how the carrying capacity of a reserve for elephants is calculated. This is not a question of how many elephants an area of land can hold before the populations starts to decline, because by the time this stage is reached, the habitat would have been almost completely destroyed by elephants. Rather, the term “carrying capacity” relates more to what the acceptable levels of damage are to a particular habitat type. In addition, it is important to consider the fact that elephants don’t spread out evenly over the fenced areas but rather have preferred areas of feeding based on access to water or preferred trees, such as Marula. Thus the definition of acceptable levels of damage needs to be expressed in terms of percentage of total reserve area that has certain defined levels of serious damage. The Walker scale of elephant browsing pressure is being used by the Opwall teams to assess the levels of damage to trees and shrubs in different reserves at differing levels of elephant feeding pressure so that contours of similar levels of habitat damage can be defined for each of the reserves. Data are being gathered at a range of elephant grazing pressures so that estimates of levels of damage for a reserve with differing levels of elephant populations can be predicted.In South Africa the first week is spent completing a bush survival and savannah ecology course. One of the objectives of the course is to orientate new volunteers in the African bush and to develop the skills and confidence necessary to participate in the surveys on foot in the reserve. Important rules and etiquette concerning safety procedures on how to conduct yourself in a dangerous game area and what to do if the group walks into dangerous animals such as buffalo, elephant and lion are covered. Training is also given in animal behaviour, how to track animals and to identify safe and danger zones around large game species when encountered and navigation using GPS and other techniques. Identification training is given for large mammals from sightings, spoor (tracks) and scat (droppings), common birds and their calls, major vegetation types and trees.In week 2 onwards the research assistants will join small survey teams completing surveys on foot with armed rangers in big game areas and have wildlife encounter experiences not normally available to visitors. Detailed measurements of grass volume, tree and shrub size structure, percentage encroachment of bushes and levels of elephant browsing on trees and bushes using the Walker scale will be completed on study plots across the whole reserve. In addition, perpendicular 1km transects will be completed across the whole reserve to assess the percentage of trees and shrubs in the most damaged categories on the Walker scale so that contours enclosing areas of equal damage can be plotted for the reserve. In areas where the elephants have caused significant habitat change this may also have an impact on the diversity of other taxa. Birds are used as indicators of change and at each of the habitat sites early morning bird point counts will be completed so that the density date for each species can be compared with previous years.Students will spend half their time in the field on the research projects and whilst in camp will take part in an African Wildlife Conservation course which goes into much more detail about how wildlife resources are managed and the major conservation issues faced in the region.
27 Sodwana Bay, South Africa There is also the opportunity to combine some dive based options at the end of a bush based expedition in South Africa. If you want excitement then diving in South Africa is a good option because of the surf launches with the high powered RIBS that are needed to reach the dive sites, and also because this is the site with the best chance of seeing the marine megafauna such as whale sharks, giant manta rays and whales.At this site you can do a dive training course and an Indian Ocean reef ecology course.Sodwana Bay, South Africa
28 Personalized Itinerary Options 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeksSelect the training course and research assistant options for your itineraryOptions in Indonesia and HondurasThe second type of research programs open to Research Assistants are those with much larger science teams and where volunteers can personalize their itineraries from a series of options. Each of these expeditions has a compulsory training course that has to be done in the first week.
29 IndonesiaA final option is to work on the Indonesia research program. The Indonesian site is on Sulawesi Island in the Wallacea region. The Wallacea region (named after Alfred Russel Wallace the co-originator with Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection) is an area of islands in central Indonesia that never became connected with the main continental land masses of Asia or Australia when sea levels dropped during the Ice Ages. As a result they developed a large number of endemic species. 90% of the mammals (excluding bats) are endemic to the island. There is still much to be discovered about the fauna of these remote forests and this is where the Op Wall expeditions first started.The forest projects are based in the Lambusango forests in south Buton Island and the marine projects are in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, both off the coast of SE Sulawesi. These are VERY remote sites and require extensive travel on small boats and planes.
30 Training Courses Jungle training and Wallacea wildlife course Canopy AccessDive trainingIndo Pacific reef ecologyDivemaster trainingIndonesiaIf students are going to the forest they start with a jungle training and Wallacea wildlife ecology course. This training course is designed to acclimatise students to the forest environment and give them the field skills to work competently alongside field scientists in the forest. The course includes practical survival skills, how to live, walk and work safely in the forest including how to establish a field camp and what potentially dangerous organisms to look out for. The course also contains a series of lectures with practicals to train you in the field survey techniques being used for different taxa and identification of the more common species. Students also learn about the ecology of tropical forests and what is so special about the Wallacea forests. In either the forest or the marine side there is also the opportunity to do an Indonesian cultural experience course that gives a unique insight into rural Indonesian life and the opportunity to experience what it is like to work in a southeast Asian farm, how to fish in a dugout canoe, learn about medicinal plants, how to plant or harvest rice up to your knees in water in a padi field, and how to prepare Indonesian food.There is the option to do a half-day course that gives the opportunity to learn how to safely ascend into the canopy. The ascent is done using ascenders (pulley system) with safety ropes and is a unique opportunity to experience wildlife in the canopy. If you are completely crazy then you can opt to spend the night in a hammock in the canopy – magical experience waking up 40m off the ground in the canopy.On the marine side there is the option of doing dive training course to PADI Open Water, a Dive Master course and an Indo Pacific reef ecology course.
31 IndonesiaThe Lambusango forests in the central part of Buton form the southern end of a continuous tract of forest that continues north through the remainder of the island and at the northern end is protected as the North Buton Nature Reserve. Despite this designation, virtually no data are available on the forests north of Lambusango and Opwall is establishing a series of field camps to survey these new forest areas which almost certainly will record new species records for the island as well a potentially discovering new species to science. These data together with those from Lambusango can then be compiled into a Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance report that will make the Buton forests eligible for corporate sector funding under the REDD initiative. Corporate investors benefit by receiving Voluntary Carbon Scheme (VCS) credits and quantifiable benefits to biodiversity and poverty alleviation to surrounding communities from the annual REDD payments, which are based on performance in protecting the forests.Volunteers working on this project will be able to work with a range of scientists and have the opportunity to work in a series of different remote forest camps with those in the north where surveys are being completed for the team potentially revealing species new to science. Note the skink species in this slide which was discovered in the 2012 season in one of the northern camps and may well be a species new to science. A number of volunteers opt to spend multiple weeks but in different camps so they can get a really good knowledge of the forest fauna. One team is gathering data on the mammals and reptiles. This involves emptying pitlines for small reptiles and insectivores, standard search times for herpetofauna, spotlighting for amphibians, setting and emptying small mammal and civet traps, checking camera traps and completing long transects for patch occupancy analysis of two key endemic mammals, the Buton Macaque and anoa (an endemic dwarf buffalo species on the edge of extinction), and the wild pigs. A second team is monitoring bird communities from point counts and from opportunistic observations and mist netting. An invertebrate survey team is describing butterfly communities from pollard walks and trapping, moth communities from light tapping and dung beetle communities from pitfall trap surveys. Another team is assessing human levels of extraction in different parts of the forest including rattan, timber and distribution of bees nests exploited for the honey.
32 Marine Research Assistant Projects IndonesiaOn the marine side there are two main research assistant projects – coral reef monitoring and research assistant pool.The reef surveys are completed along 50m transects with fish community structure assessed from visual surveys using experienced fish biologists. The benthic surveys are completed by underwater video surveys which are then analysed back in the laboratory. These videos are then used to assess coral cover, mortality, algal cover and will be compared to data obtained by the team in previous years so that rates of change can be calculated. Benthic surveys also include invertebrate transects within which ecologically and economically important reef invertebrates are assessed. In 2013 the team will focus on determining the abundance and size distribution of the Crown-of-thorns starfish a ferocious predator of reef building corals. In 2013, the stereo video survey approach (that was developed by the University of Western Australia and is being used at the other Opwall marine research sites in Cuba, Honduras and Madagascar), will also be used in Indonesia to compare with the results from the visual surveys completed by the skilled surveyors.There are many different marine research and conservation projects running at the Hoga Island Research Centre including dive-based projects, snorkelling projects, shallow sub-tidal projects, inter-tidal projects, and research projects focused within the mangrove forests. Research assistants are always needed to help various scientists collect essential data both in the field and at the field centre following field excursions. Research assistants have the opportunity to gain experience in several different research areas. On arrival at the field base, you will be introduced to the range of research projects that are underway and allocated to a scientist whose specific responsibility is to line you up with scientists who need assistance and whose projects match your specific or general interest. Joining the research assistant pool maximises your opportunities to widen your knowledge of marine biology whilst also allowing you to increase your specialist knowledge in specific areas of research. There is also the opportunity for students to do short overnight projects based on the live-aboard research vessel, the Bintang Sedang.Marine Research Assistant Projectsin Indonesia
33 Stereo Video Surveys Cuba In week 2 students will be spending a third of their time on the Felipe Poey, completing stereo video surveys of transects of the reefs off the southern part of the Isle of Youth. In addition the teams will be completing video surveys of 50m transects on the same reefs. The teams doing this work will be away on the Felipe Poey for a few days so they can reach the more distant reefs. Another third of their time will be spent back at the hotel analysing the fish community and benthic video data from the surveys and entering the data in a database. The final third will be spent with the manatee monitoring team.The traditional way of completing reef fish community surveys is to lay a transect tape and then swim 2.5m above the tape and record on a slate all the fish encountered in an imaginary box 2.5 m either side of the tape and below the observer.Stereo Video Surveys
34 OK let’s try it – this is a video of one of the reefs in Mozambique OK let’s try it – this is a video of one of the reefs in Mozambique. Now pretend you are swimming along and have to identify ALL the fish you see along the transect, the fish must be within the 2.5m box and you have to estimate their lengths – reckon you can do it?The stereo video technique however, allows you to record the fish along the transect so you can play back the tape and stop the film at any point to confirm identifications. There is also a digital record of the reef fish communities that can be checked in future years if there is any doubt about the results.
35 Analyzing Stereo Video Footage When you get back to the lab the videos are synchronized and displayed on a computer screen with the left video on the left hand screen and the right video on the right hand screen. The stereo video device has some really sophisticated software associated with it that enables the distance of each fish from the camera to be estimated. That means you can make sure you are only counting fish inside the transect box. But the really clever thing about the device is that when you click on the front and back of a fish on the left screen and then repeat this on the same fish on the right hand screen it estimates the lengths for you to within 5%. That compares with 50% error for a range of human observers which means for the first time we can make accurate estimates of biomass on the reef. Opwall has been using the stereo video survey technique at most of its marine sites (Indonesia, Mozambique, Honduras and Cuba) from 2011 so is getting really accurate comparative data from Indo-Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean.Analyzing Stereo Video Footage
36 HondurasThe Honduras expeditions are the opposite to those in Indonesia. The tropical forests of Central America are some of the most highly species diverse in the World although there are very few endemics. The Honduran forest science team is the largest forest survey team of all the Opwall forest sites. The Caribbean reefs though are the least diverse in the World which in some ways makes it easier to get trained and help with the surveys than in the much more species diverse Indo-Pacific.
37 Training Courses Jungle training and Neotropical wildlife course Canopy AccessDive trainingCaribbean reef ecologyDivemaster trainingHondurasIn the Honduras forest and reefs there are the same range of training courses available as in Indonesia including the canopy experience.
38 HondurasOne of the advantages of the Honduran cloud forest site is that there are 6 separate camps at different altitudes and with different forest structure and hence species communities. There is an annual monitoring programme at a series of sites around each of these camps covering a range of taxa. A number of students join these biodiversity change monitoring programme and spend time at different camps which is the best way to see the Cusuco cloud forests and maximise the number of species seen and academics and field biologists with which you will be working.Projects include a botanical inventory of the Park which has already discovered a new genus of tree, studies of epiphytes in the canopy, assessing the role of altitude and rainfall on leaf formation, completing inventories of orchid bee, dung beetle and tarantula species, examining invertebrate communities in bromeliads, electrofishing to determine the fish communities in different order streams and many other projects. One of the most exciting aspects of the Cusuco Park is the presence of 6 species of amphibians unique to the Park and a further 10 species that are found in Cusuco but which are endangered under the IUCN categories. One team of scientists is looking at infection rates of chytrid fungus – a disease that has decimated amphibian populations elsewhere – in these tiny mountain top amphibian communities to determine the best strategy for their conservation. There are also teams completing standardised surveys on dung beetles, two families of moths, amphibian and reptile communities, birds, small mammals and bats so there are always plenty of projects needing help. In addition there is an opportunity to learn some GIS skills and understand how the satellite data are anaylsed and species distribution maps made and to complete a short course on how to incorporate genetic information into biodiversity studies.
39 HondurasOn the marine side there is a choice of two locations – Cayo Menor in the Cayos Cochinos Islands (pictured) which is only open to researchers or Utila Island where Opwall has a research centre on a lagoon outside the main tourist centre. Many students decide to visit both sites and in order to get the best range of research projects that is the best strategy but you need to spend two weeks at one of the sites before moving to the next. Cayo Menor has no mangroves but Utila has a lot. In the Caribbean a number of reef fish species are meant to need mangroves for their early life history stages so if there are islands such as Cayo Menor where all the mangroves have been removed how does this affect the composition of reef fish species? Stereo video surveys are being done on both islands and students can help with the these surveys and with analysing the footage.There are a lot of senior thesis topics as well and students in the research assistant pool have the option of joining these. Most of the studies on the benefits of mangroves have been done comparing areas where there are intact mangrove stands with areas where all the mangroves have been removed. However, in many places mangrove stands are partially degraded (eg Utila) so how does this partial damage affect their utility (sediment stabilisation, fish nursery) and how much damage can the mangroves withstand before their functionality is affected?On Cayo Menor and Cayor Major there is an endemic pink boa constrictor called the Hog Islands Boa. This snake has been heavily collected for the pet trade in the past and since 2005 the population levels of this snake have been monitored on Cayo Menor and volunteers are needed to help with these searches. In addition there are studies on the ctenosaurs and endemic anoles on Cayo menor and Utila.
40 Pre-Med Expedition Medicine Course Jungle survival & Neotropical ecology courseExpedition medicine course with lectures and practicals on:pre-expedition planningmedical emergencies and trauma in the fieldtropical infectionssnake bite and envenomationPADI open water dive training or Caribbean reef ecology courseExpedition MedicineFor those students doing a first degree but wanting to go onto medical school there is an expedition medicine experiential course in Honduras. This 4-week option is aimed at giving Pre-Med students the opportunity to experience how to provide medical support to teams working on expeditions in remote areas. The first 3 weeks of the course are run in the Cusuco National Park cloud forest with the last week at the marine research centre on Utila Island. The Expedition Medicine experiential course provides formal teaching in the form of interactive lectures (core knowledge) coupled with mentorship by doctors working out in the field in various sites to gain experience in clinical diagnosis and treatment. The mentors will provide individual assessments for each of the students at the end of the placement. Note the course does not provide training in expedition medicine that can then be used as a qualification to practice expedition medicine. During week 1, the group complete the Jungle Survival and Neotropical Forest Ecology course so that they are accustomed to the forest conditions and the type of research being conducted. In week 2 the group will complete a training course in expedition medicine which will cover pre-expedition planning (eg how to identify risks, developing emergency evacuation plans), medical emergencies and trauma in the field (anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetic emergencies, heat & dehydration, gastroenteritis and hygiene), tropical infections (eg malaria, rabies, dengue fever and DHF), and snake bite and envenomation procedures. In week 3, the experiential medical students will be spread amongst the various core and buffer zone research camps in Cusuco Park in pairs to work alongside the medic at each of the sites. Generally, from a medical viewpoint there is not too much to do at these camps, so most of the time will be spent helping on the biodiversity surveys including emptying dung beetle pitfall traps, helping with point counts for birds, standard search times and spotlighting for reptiles and amphibians, tapir transects, etc. In week 4, the group will move to Utila Island where they will be completing a PADI Open Water dive training course or doing the Caribbean reef ecology course if already qualified. During this week, they will have the chance to visit a hyperbaric chamber.There are also placements opportunities for medical students who have completed their degrees and are moving into the clinical phase and are designed to give field experience of expedition medicine. On this placement you sign up for the Jungle training and Neotropical Forest Ecology course (HM001) for your first week and then spend a week at Base Camp working with the medical staff supporting the cloud forest ecological research team (HM101). At this camp you can also complete a short course on how to extract DNA under field conditions. For the next 2 weeks the medical students are on placement supporting the medical staff at two different field camps in the Cusuco National Park. These camps are much more remote and you are living in hammocks or tents deep in the forest. Here medical emergencies are hopefully fairly infrequent and you get the chance to join the research teams who are working on dung beetle, moth, amphibian, reptiles, bird and large mammal standard monitoring programmes. For the next 2 weeks the medical students move to Utila and learn to dive (HU004) followed by completing a Caribbean reef ecology course (HU007). On Utila our partners run the hyperbaric chamber and we have medics who are experienced in dive medicine so you would gain some experience of hyperbaric medicine and issues likely to arise on dive based expeditions. You would then go to the Cayos Cochinos Islands and join the research teams there completing stereo video surveys of the reef fish communities and the video transects surveys of the benthic communities (HC106). There are medical staff on this island as well and you would be working with them and gaining experience of how to provide support to dive based expeditions in much more remote locations. At the end of this 8 week period you would have had a range of expedition medicine experience as well as gaining skills in jungle survival and diving and having had a range of biodiversity monitoring experiences. Each of the different medical staff (6- 7) who would have been mentoring you at the various camps would sign you off as having received relevant experience in different aspects of expedition medicine.
41 Senior Thesis Research Topics Complete data collection over summer90% + of students get top two grades for field projectsRecent projects at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Toronto, Birmingham, Manchester and others have won best departmental dissertationsA second way of joining the expeditions is to use the opportunity to gather data for a senior thesis, capstone project or for an independent study project. There are a whole series of research topics in the brochure which are the subject areas for which we have academic expertise in the field to supervise. Once you have selected one of the research topics, you need to go to the Operation Wallacea web site ( and download the suggested reading for that topic. After reading these papers you then send a draft thesis proposal to our Senior Thesis Advisor. At this stage you also need to talk to your University tutor to identify who your internal University supervisor for the research project will be. You will then be sent a form that will need to be signed by your university supervisor. Once we have received this form and the draft research proposal, the Senior Thesis Advisor and the academic who will be providing your specialist supervision in the field will contact you with comments on the draft and the practicalities of completing the proposed research, so that you can finalise your research proposal before going into the field. Once in the field you will have a double level of supervision with a specialist field biologist working with you on a daily basis and access to a senior academic who is experienced at helping students with their projects and has strong statistical knowledge. We can’t give you a good project – that is up to you. However, we do have such a strong framework of support that more than 85% of the students get the two top grades for their theses.
42 The advantage of doing a thesis with Opwall is the access that is available to the large number of academics working in the field at our research sites. These academics are very publication focussed as illustrated at the Indonesian marine site where so many publications have been achieved just over the last 6 survey season s that a book was recently published summarising all this information. There are 170+ academics, additional PhD students and numerous skilled field biologists working at the various sites so you get the support needed to get an amazing thesis. Indeed students from Oxford, Princeton, Manchester, Toronto, Essex and other universities have won awards for doing the best thesis projects in their departments at one of the Opwall sites.Academic Support
43 Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras Botany and Invertebrate Research TopicsEnvironmental impacts on leaf formationEpiphytes in cloud forestsForest disturbance impacts on butterfliesOrchid bee diversityNiche separation in tarantulasDung beetle communities in cloud forestSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, HondurasThe leaf formation project is run by Dr Peter Thomas from Keel University, palms in Indonesia by Dr Andrew Powling, Portsmouth University, forest disturbance impacts on butterflies by Dr Dave Tosh, Queens University Belfast, orchid bee diversity, Dr Ken McCrary, tarantulas by Dr Stuart Longhorn from University or Ireland.The dung beetle research topic in the Honduran cloud forests takes advantage of the existing, fixed-method sampling program of baited pitfall traps for dung beetles at all 150 sites as well as the taxonomic expertise on site to help with identifications from Tom Creedy from Oxford Natural History Museum. Identification guides for the 40 main morphotypes have been constructed and there is an existing database of catches over previous years from the long term study sites so there is plenty of data available to analyse. There may also be the opportunity to investigate aspects of ecological genetics, or to utilise GIS to produce species distribution models for the various morphotypes.
44 Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Madagascar Herpetofauna Research TopicsImpacts of habitat on Sulawesi herpetofaunaAbundance and distribution of threatened amphibians in cloud forestPopulation ecology of Hog Island BoasBehaviour and ecology of ctenosaursNiche separation in caimansHerpetofaun acommunities in MexicoSea turtle behaviour and nest site preferencesColour change in chameleons and leaf tailed geckosPopulation levels of Nile crocodiles in MadagascarPopulation levels of colubrid snakesSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, MadagascarHerpetofauna projects are available in the lowland forests of Indonesia, cloud forest of Honduras, coastal islands of Honduras, Amazonia and in Madagascar.The Sulawesi projects are run by Dr Dave Tosh from Queens University Belfast, the Honduran cloud forest and island topics are run by Dr Steve Green from Operation Wallacea, the Amazonian projects by Dr Rick Bodmer, University of Kent, Mexican projects by Dr Kathy Slater, Operation Wallacea and Madagascar projects by Dr Randy Morrison from McDaniel College and Dr Peter Long, Oxford University.The chameleon colour topic focuses on quantifying the colours and colour change abilities of the Oustalet’s panther chameleon or the three leaf-tail geckos found in the Mahamavo western dry forests. Colour and colour change of chameleons is well known worldwide and is yet surprisingly poorly studied. Chameleons often exhibit rapid colour change but it is almost exclusively used for communicating social status to nearby males and females and not for background matching. Little is understood about the colours and colour variation of natural populations of. This species has a variety of colour morphs that may correlate with gender or sexual receptivity. Each colour morph also has several potential signalling patches. Patterns will be determined through photography and colour will be quantified using reflectance spectrometry. This project should result in a determination of the different colour morphs and the range of colour variation in each and perhaps a determination of signals are used socially. In the leaf-tail geckos pigmentation is used in a strikingly different way. These lizards are preternaturally good at background matching, both in terms of pattern and of matching actual background colours. There are three distinct species in Mahamavo that occur in sufficient numbers for colour analysis. The focus of this research will be to compare the colours and colour patterns of individuals to actual capture substrates. A secondary focus will be on the ability of each species to change colour in response to various stimuli. This will be accomplished using photography and reflectance spectrometry.
45 Bird Ecology Research Topics Behaviour of island birds Habitat associations of Sulawesi birdsBehaviour of island birdsCloud forest bird communitiesAssessing detectability of forest birdsEffects of fire on winter bird communitiesBird communities in different Amazonian habitatsWater bird communities in the AmazonEndemic bird habitat associations in MadagascarSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, South Africa, Peru, MadagascarThere are bird research topics in Indonesian lowland forests and islands, Honduras cloud forest, South Africa savannah, Amazonia and MadagascarThere are around 80 species of birds regularly found in the forests of Buton; about 50% of these are endemic to the Wallacea region and range from large hornbills to tiny sunbirds. Bird communities are being surveyed as part of the Opwall program at 16 sites at each camp using 50m fixed-radius circular plot point counts. Each study site is being surveyed three times, with the total number of species detected after three counts being recorded in order to establish patch occupancy rates. Sampling is being conducted each morning between 06:00 – 07:30, this being the period where bird activity and vocalization is greatest, yielding the greatest number of contacts. Point count samples are begun immediately on arrival at each study site, with no ‘settling in’ period being used. This has been shown to allow the recording of any birds disturbed by the surveyors, thereby increasing the number of contacts made per count. A 10 minute sampling period is used, as counts of this length have a reduced likelihood of multiple contact recording, while still being capable of detecting >80% of bird species present in an area. In addition mist net surveys could be completed and point counts conducted in the canopy using the platform which has been constructed for such studies to compare with ground based point counts. Projects within this topic could concentrate on determining the habitat associations of particular groups (e.g. hornbills, cuckoo shrikes, flowerpeckers, etc.) or could assess how the communities overall change in relation to levels of forest disturbance. Methodological studies could also be included such as comparing the results of analysis of taped calls at the point count sites with those recorded during the actual counts or the effectiveness of mist net surveys versus point counts
46 Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, South Africa, Peru Mammal Research TopicsSulawesi forest bat communitiesCivet ranging behaviourArboreal marsupial ecology in SulawesiPopulation levels of Sulawesi megafaunaVasectomy impact s on elephant behaviourCarrying capacity of reserves for elephantDistribution patterns of large herbivoresNiche separation in Amazonian dolphinsOccupancy modeling and camera trapping mammals in Amazonia , Mexico or MadagascarComparison of mist net and sonogram surveys for batsSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, South Africa, PeruThere are mammal research topics in the Indonesian lowland forests, Honduras cloud forests, South Africa savannah and Amazonia.One of the projects that always fills quickly is the one looking at the behavioral impacts of vasectomising all the adult bull elephants in a small reserve to control the population growth. The elephant carrying capacity for Pongola has been estimated at 37 animals, but the numbers are at over 75 individuals. In 2008, the Disney Corporation provided funding for vasectomies of the bull elephants in an attempt to cap the population. Vasectomies do not affect male hormone levels and therefore should not effect male sexual or social behaviour, although it is possible that females could lose interest in vasectomised males if mating continues to be unsuccessful and male-female associations could be affected due to the increased percentage of cycling females in the herd. One of the major aims of this project is therefore to monitor behavioural interactions of the vasectomized bulls with females and other bulls to determine if vasectomising bull elephants is a viable and cost-effective method of elephant population control and is applicable to other small independent game reserves.Some of the landowners at the Pongola reserve want to remove some of the elephants because of the perceived damage to vegetation. However, removing part of an existing elephant population can cause disruption to herd dynamics and result in problematic elephants, particularly if there are not enough older individuals remaining in the herd to regulate younger elephant behaviour. If elephants are to be removed from Pongola then it is important to identify which individuals to remove that will result in minimal disruption to herd dynamics and reduce the likelihood of ‘delinquent’ elephants in the remaining herds at Pongola. Data relating to this decision will be twofold: firstly, ranging patterns and association indices of the herds and bull elephants will provide insight into cohesive units that could be removed in their entirety, and rates of behaviour exhibited by the bull elephants and their interactions with other herd members will determine which of the bulls have developed the full suite of social behavior required for the ‘policing’ of adolescents and maintaining herd cohesion (meaning that they could take control of the population should other bulls be removed). If the non-vasectomised adolescent bulls are starting to show signs of sexual maturity and are likely to start breeding in the near future then plans must be made for their removal or subsequent vasectomies. The third aim of this current research project is therefore to monitor the behaviour of the younger bulls to identify a time-line for this management decision. Data relating to this issue will be produce by investigating of rates of adolescent bull behaviour and their interactions with other herd members.This project can only take 8 researchers and thye have access to a game viewing vehicle, an elephant scientist who knows each of the animals, an individual ID guide for all the elephants and family relationships between each of the elephants allowing for some detailed studies to be completed.
47 Primate Research Topics Effects of forest disturbance on Buton Macaque behaviourSleeping tree selectivity in tarsiersNiche separation in Amazonian primatesSpider monkey grouping patternsFeeding ecology, habitat selection and activity budgets in Coquerel’s and Verreaux’s SifakasSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, MadagascarPrimate research topics are available on the Buton macaque and Buton tarsier in Indonesia led by Dr Nancy Priston from Oxford Brookes University, spider monkey social structure in Mexico led by Dr Kathy Slater, up to 12 species in Amazonia led by Dr Rick Bodmer from Kent University and two species of Sifakas in Madagascar.Spider monkeys are frugivorous primates that live in complex societies characterised by high degree fission-fusion dynamics whereby members of the same community are rarely all together and spend their time in fluid subgroups that constantly change in size and composition. Subgroup composition (specifically same-sex versus mixed-sex subgroups) can have a notable affect on activity budgets as mixed-sex subgroups generally spend more time socializing and less time feeding than same-sex subgroups. Unlike other primates, spider monkeys rarely engage in social grooming and have a unique suite of friendly behaviour consisting of embraces, kisses and pectoral sniffs. Rates of friendly behaviour and aggression vary considerably between male-male, male-female and female-female dyads and can provide insight into the strength of social bonds. There are also considerable sex differences in the context in which aggression and friendly behaviour arise (e.g. fusion events, or aggression in the context of feeding). As spider monkeys live in the upper canopy of the forest, they are generally difficult to study and documentation of their social interactions is limited to a small number of field sites. The low and partially open canopy of the Calakmul forest means that spider monkeys can be viewed very easily, thus providing an excellent research location. Activity data will be collected using instantaneous scan sampling and all occurrences of aggression and friendly behaviour will be recorded, noting the sex of the individuals involved and the context in which the behaviour occurred. Subgroup composition will be recorded throughout the day.
48 Marine Ecology Research Topics Resource utilization of reef fish across environmental gradientsAssociation between anemone fish and host anemonesCompetition between hard coral speciesComparison between reef and reef fish survey methodsIsland biogeography of coral reef patchesSea urchin ecology in the CaribbeanChanges in reef fish from stereo video surveysReef fish and benthic communities in MadagascarSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, MadagascarThe biggest range of marine ecology research topics are in Indonesia and are led by Dr Dave Smith from University of Essex but there are others though in Honduras led by Dr Dan Exton from University of Essex.Many of the marine ecology research topics need diving but there are some that can be done by snorkelling alone. One option would be to look at fish communities associated with patch reefs (coral bommies) on the reef flats. The hypothesis is that the fish communities follow island biogeography theory such that you can predict the species diversity on each bommie from it's size and distance from the 'mainland' (in this case the reef wall which is the source of all colonising fish). You can gather all your data from snorkelling and there are lots of bommies on the reef flat of different sizes and different distances from the reef wall (source of colonising fish) and the patch reefs provide a perfect island biogeography model system. The twist to the story is that at Spring low tides these bommies dry out completely so the fish have to return to the reef wall temporarily. When the bommies are recolonised, is it the same species mix that recolonise, a different species mix but same diversity, is there a slow build up to the maximum carrying capacity etc?
49 Intertidal Research Topics Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras Niche separation in fiddler and sentinel crabsPhysiological adaptations of rock pool speciesSeagrass ecologyImpact of mangrove degradation on functionalitySenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, HondurasMost of the intertidal projects are based in Indonesia led by Dr Richard Barnes from Cambridge and Dr Simon Cragg, University of Portsmouth. There are some mangrove and sea grass projects in Honduras though led by Dr Dan Exton, Essex University and Dr Paul Bologna from Montclair University.At the Indonesia site there are mixed populations of fiddler crab on the intertidal areas, but the same species also occur in single-species populations, for example of Uca vocans on the Ambeuan mudflat, or U. tetragonon at the western end of Pantai Pogo (near the village of Furake) and U. mjoebergi at the eastern end of the same bay. There are a number of comparative studies that could be done to investigate how competition with other species is affecting the feeding time, feeding areas and activity budgets of each of the species, resourcepartitioning of the intertidal areas. Both mixed and single-species populations of two species of sentinel crab, Macrophthalmus convexus and M. serenei, occur in some numbers, at the top of the low tide sand flat on Pantai Kampoa. How do these species partition the resources and are there interactions between the species? These are great projects because loads of data are generated very quickly and you still have time to dive at times of day when the tide is too high for these studies.
50 Environmental Science Research Topics Impact of coral growth forms on biodiversityPhotoacclimation response of reef building coralsEffects of Crown of Thorns starfish on reefsEffects on corallite morphology of sedimentationSpatial variation in coral mortalityEnvironmental impact of seaweed farmsHydrography & water quality of coastal lagoons in MexicoSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, HondurasEnvironmental science research topics are mainly marine based in Indonesia but there is one project in the cloud forests of Honduras on developing a freshwater biotic index to identify river pollution.Calcification by reef building corals is a light enhanced process. Light quantity and quality will influence rates of calcification and also the morphology of coral colonies. In turn the morphology of colonies influences the architecture of a reef, a factor that directly affects associated biodiversity and productivity. The effects of light can be considered at different spatial scales: the corallite and the colony. One project could look at how reduced light, in an impacted reef environment (high turbidity) and with different optical depths (product of light attenuation and depth) influences the structure and arrangement of corallites and the overall structure of the colony. The colony formation of a number of species will be examined across environmental gradients and photography with subsequent image analysis software can be used to characterize corallite size, shape and arrangements.
51 Marine Physiology Research Topics Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia Effects of noisy soundscapes on settling crabsPhysiology of cephalopodsTemperature preferences of intertidal fishesWater loss resistance of intertidal crabsEmergence patterns in mudskipper species in relation to water lossResistance of tropical frogs to water lossEcophysiology of mangrove coralsSenior Thesis Topics – IndonesiaThe marine physiology research topics are all at the Hoga marine research site in Indonesia and are led by Dr Wayne Bennett from University of West FloridaOne project could be linked to the fiddler and sentinel crab species that occur at different heights in the intertidal areas. Does their ability to withstand evaporative water loss explain these distributions with those with the better ability being able to occupy the areas exposed for the longest periods which also give them the greatest opportunity for feeding?
52 Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, Peru FisheriesResearch TopicsChanges in the Kaledupa reef fishery 2007 – 2013Effects of fish fences on fisheriesCleaner fish behavioural strategiesA comparison of fish diversity in different Amazonian habitatsStream fish diversity in cloud forestSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, Honduras, PeruThere are fisheries research topics on the reefs of Indonesia and Honduras as well as in the Amazon and in the streams of the Cusuco cloud forests
53 Genetics Research Topics Senior Thesis Topics - Honduras Barcoding diversity of Cusuco cloud forestLandscape genetics of amphibiansChytrid fungus impacts on frogsGenetic diversity in tarantulasSenior Thesis Topics - HondurasAll the genetics dissertation topics are in the Honduran cloud forests where we have established a field genetics lab with PCR and facilities to be able to export samples for sequencing back in the home university.A new field in population genetics, Landscape Genetics investigates population structure and connectivity in the context of barriers and facilitators within the environment. The detailed satellite imagery and habitat mapping which exists within Cusuco allows a particularly fine-grained analysis of gene flow among populations of species within the park. Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR) polymorphisms provide a practical and relatively inexpensive alternative to microsatellites that can be utilised in the field for examining within species genetic diversity and gene flow. With the Chytrid fungus widespread within Cusuco, many species of amphibian endemic to cloud forests have suffered declines. Determining how these species move through the landscape and how populations are connected is extremely important for directing conservation effort. This project will use ISSR polymorphisms to examine genetic diversity , population structure and gene flow in amphibian populations in relation to landscape features within the park.
54 Spatial Ecology and GIS Research Topics Mapping forest change in SulawesiSpecies distribution modelingLandscape ecology in MadagascarRemote sensing and environmental modeling in MadagascarDeveloping monitoring protocols for REDD+Senior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, MadagascarMost of the spatial ecology research topics are in Madagascar and are led by Dr Peter Long from Oxford. There is one project though on forest change in Indonesia led by Dr Bruce CarlisleOne project can look at species distribution modelling. Distribution models allow a set of spatial records for a given species to be integrated with maps of environmental covariates (eg. elevation, climate, land cover) in order to construct and validate a statistical model of the probability that a given species will be found in a particular landscape unit. These models can then be expressed as a habitat suitability map. Students can join one of the science teams and contribute to collecting field data for lemurs, forest birds, wetland birds, or reptiles and amphibians and then use those observations plus the existing data sets to make models for a set of species using either GLM or Maxent.
55 Conservation Management Research Topics Resilience of marine dependent communitiesImpact of ecotourism growth in the Wakatobi IslandsForest land tenure in MadagascarEconomic impacts of tourism in southern MadagascarNatural resource dependent livelihoods in Mandrare ValleyAssessment and valuation of ecosystem service provision in MadagascarSenior Thesis Topics – Indonesia, MadagascarConservation management research topics are available in Indonesian coastal communities, mountain communities in Honduras, and rural communities in Madagascar.The Opwall Trust has been working in the cloud forests of Honduras and lowland forests of Indonesia getting local communities to commit to protecting their own adjacent forests. Contracts were agreed with communities to ensure there was no logging or hunting on a specified area around their village in exchange for investment in developing businesses in those communities. Funding came from the World Bank to get these contracts in position at the Indonesian site and the effect on reduced logging was striking. From a background rate of 2% of the forest cleared every year the clearance rate dropped to zero once these contracts were in position. The main difficulty though was finding business opportunities for small rural communities and at first the concept of getting Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certification for products from these villages was investigated. However, these schemes deal with producers co-operatives and can only influence only how the members (who normally form less than 10% of the overall community) within the co-operatives behave. At the Operation Wallacea site in the cloud forest Cusuco National Park in Honduras, there is a Rainforest Alliance approved coffee co-operative, but this co-operative is within a village, which is continuing with large scale illegal hunting and logging. As long as members of the co-operative are not involved in these illegal activities there is nothing the Rainforest Alliance scheme can do to remove certification. The Operation Wallacea Trust, has tried to take this concept of ethical pricing relating to forest conservation one step further. They trade marked a new scheme called Wildlife Conservation Products. This scheme offers Fair Trade or higher prices to village co-operatives which have as close to 90%+ membership. The co-operative is therefore not just a producers association but an organisation that benefits the whole village. This certification scheme is now being developed as a PhD at the University of Nottingham with EU funding and one topic is working with this researcher in the Honduran mountains looking at the effectiveness of this proposed scheme
56 Dates and Prices Expeditions run over the summer Itinerary advice at next meeting or edPrices weeks - $1,7504 weeks - $3,200 6 weeks - $4,350 8 weeks - $5,500Fundraising support with information about grant opportunitiesThe Opwall expeditions are run during the summer vacations. If these projects are of interest can you please fill in the Expression of Interest form you were given when you came in. There is NO commitment in completing the form but it enables me to send you an about the project selection meeting. At that meeting one of the academic staff working with Opwall will visit and run a seminar to discuss research assistant options of particular dissertation topics of interest to you. I’ll also give you a full programme when you give me the form. Please have a look at this and if you are interested come to the project selection meeting on ????? If you are interested after that stage then we will be sending a professional fundraiser to explain how to access the various grants that are available to fund this sort of field research. We do need to concentrate all our efforts though on those students who are really going to try and raise the funds so at that stage we ask for a 10% deposit. However, that deposit is refundable up to 185 days before your proposed departure date (around early January for most expeditions) except for a £50 admin charge. So this arrangement gives you the opportunity to join the project and get started on the grant application and only risk £50 – if you can’t raise £50 by early January then it will be amazing so in effect joining the project is risk free. However, I don’t want anyone to sign up at this stage – you need to look at the brochure and website that has a lot more information, come to the project selection meeting or ring the Opwall office and talk to one of the expedition advisers and then if you are interested please discuss it with parents and academic staff. Note if you are using the expedition to gather data for a dissertation then you cannot decide which topic is of most appropriate over the next week or so and we wouldn’t want you to try! You can sign up for any of the topics that are of interest to you at this stage and as you go through the project preparation phase you can change topics (assuming there are still spaces) with no cost and can even cancel up to 1 April 2013 if your university won’t let you do a dissertation on your selected topic and in these cases you don’t even lose your £50 handling charge!The costs quoted include all the expedition costs but do not include flights. There are students who join the projects each year and most of them raise a good percentage of the funds needed. You need to get started on the fundraising though as soon as possible. If you do manage to join the research programs you will have the experience of your life and for many people it changes their aspirations and career paths.
57 After Your Op Wall Expedition Masters FieldPlacementsAvailable for 6 months from January 2014PhD Grants AvailableStaff PositionsAfter Your Op Wall ExpeditionSo what happens after you have done one of these expeditions? For many people the expedition is a life changing experience and for some they want to carry on with this type of field research and for thsoe students who have performed well in the field and have a desire for this sort of work there are three opportunities:Doing a Masters by Research. Operation Wallacea is offering a limited range of field based placements for students to collect data for their Masters theses. These placements are for 6 months (January to June) and are at one of three Operation Wallacea research sites (South Africa reserve, Amazonia or Indonesian reefs). Each of these sites has a portfolio of background papers, data sets and research questions that have been developed by the Opwall academic teams and the reserve managers as research topics available for those completing a Masters by Research. In order to qualify for one of these placements the student has to apply first to Operation Wallacea and the first intake of students, will be in January In approving applications for acceptance of one of these placements, preference will be given to those students who have completed their undergraduate dissertations with Operation Wallacea or have worked as Research Assistants on one of the field projects, preferably at the site they are choosing to carry out their Masters research. The reason for this is that if you are doing one of these projects you will be living in the bush, on a remote desert island or on a research ship/station in the Amazon so we need to be sure that you are suited to this sort of independent living and research. In addition a condition of acceptance is that you need to be registered at a University for a Masters by Research. Prior to going into the field we will need to see a rigorous literature review and a detailed research proposal from you, that has been accepted by the University at which you are registered and which has to be accepted by the relevant Opwall academic providing supervisory assistance for projects in those countries. This will normally require you to be registered for the Masters by September of the year before you start in the field so you have at least 4 months to complete this literature review and research proposal.Supporting PhD studies. Operation Wallacea runs a yearly grant program for PhD students. The grants are available to PhD students registered at an academic institution. It is intended to allow that student to come to our sites and conduct their own research projects for 4 to 8 weeks each summer for multiple years if required. The research project must fit within the themed research programme for the site and be between June and August each year. To date we have supported or are currently supporting 40 PhD students.Staff positions. Opwall now has offices in the UK, US, Canada, China, Australia, South Africa and Malta and each year as the programme is expanding is taking on additional full time staff that work on the field programme during the survey season and then in the offices for the rest of the year. We are on the look out for the best volunteers to join the ever growing Opwall teams working in these countries. In addition there are some field placements available for high performing volunteers normally at Masters level or above.
59 Feedback From the 2012 Expeditions You come for one reason, but want to stay for another. I was most profoundly affected by the knowledge I learnt outside the traditional learning environments. Natalia Paine, Harvard University, USA; Research Assistant, Indonesia Expeditions ExpeditionMy Op Wall experience opened my eyes to a world of research and my heart to a level of love for nature that I didn’t know was possible. Kayla Mann, University of New Brunswick, Canada; Research Assistant, South Africa ExpeditionAmazing experience! A lot of knowledgeable staff that you could learn from. Love the hands-on stuff!! Christine Munro, McMaster University, Canada; Dissertation Student, Honduras ExpeditionClose encounters of the elephant kind are amazing and will keep me coming back to South Africa. Anna Ree, Concordia University College of Alberta; Dissertation Student, South Africa Expedition