Conservation ecology - Science for a sustainable future
Our work ranges from defining conservation priorities of individual endangered species to investigating the impacts of global change on entire habitats. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms that generate and maintain species diversity in the world's biodiversity hotspots and human impact on these processes.
Within the field of conservation ecology our research methods include the use of remote sensing to identify the rates and causes of deforestation, the development of innovative wildlife survey and monitoring techniques and development of new sound-based methods to monitor 'health' of tropical forests.
We currently work in Papua New Guinea and in South America. In the lowlands of Ecuador we are focusing on the conservation of the critically endangered species such as the brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps).
Having identified one of the last healthy populations of the brown-headed spider monkey in the Chocoan forests of NW Ecuador we are now in the process of establishing a protected area to conserve one of the top 25 most endangered primates globally. At this site we also work with the local community to identify sustainable livelihood alternatives and are working on a 'conservation chocolate project' with local farmers. We have established a field station at the site to generate further scientific information to underpin conservation action and investigate effectiveness of alternative conservation livelihood initiatives. For more details on how to get involved see our website www.tesororeserve.org. In the Andes we already work closely with the Santa Lucia Cloudforest Research station in NW Ecuador where we have a field station in the reserve to study this mountain forest environment as part of a sustainable livelihoods project that aims to conserve the forest through 'scientific tourism' and research. The site hosts the Sussex University Ecuadorian Andes Fieldcourse and is set to expand as we create links with Ecuadorian and International Universities.
Our work is not restricted to NW Ecuador - we are also working to identify priority conservation sites in the Ecuadorian Amazon in the face of ongoing oil expolitation, developing sustainable livelihoods to support forest conservation in Papua New Guinea (Darwin Initiative Project) and investigating illegal trade in wildlife in the Amazonia triborder area (Peru/Brazil/Colombia).