PhD project: Understanding orang-utan habitat use and connectivity across human-modified landscapes to inform effective land-use planning
Malaysia and Indonesia are the world’s leading producers of palm oil, which has led to rapid rates of deforestation and habitat fragmentation across much of the range where orang-utans live. In spite of the high profile of these creatures and large amounts of conservation funding, all three orang-utan species are considered critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Currently, 75% of orang-utans live outside protected areas and, therefore, an understanding of how the species are utilising human-modified landscapes will be vital to ensure their conservation.
Current methods for surveying orang-utans are costly in both time and money and require site-specific parameters to produce meaningful population estimates. These site-specific parameters are often unavailable for heavily degraded landscapes, making standard survey methods ineffectual. David aims to apply innovative analytical approaches to existing data sets of both transect nest survey and camera data, and investigate their potential as alternative methods for surveying orang-utans in highly degraded landscapes. He will then apply these methods to model connectivity across human-modified landscapes, to gain a better understanding on how orang-utans are using these habitats.
David Seaman is a member of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.
Vice Chancellor's Scholarship, University of Kent