Dr. Wendy Erb is a Biological Anthropologist based at Rutgers University in the US. She studies the ecological bases of primate behaviour and the influence of environmental change, while leading initiatives to support biological conservation through community partnerships in Indonesia. With UK collaborators at the University of Exeter, Dr. Erb aims to establish a long-term ecological and ethnographic research programme to underpin conservation of the threatened Rungan River landscape.
One of the largest relatively intact lowland forests in Borneo with no formal protection, Rungan comprises diverse habitats and houses a rich fauna, including large populations of endangered orangutans and gibbons. Yet, most of the area is designated for conversion to plantation or as timber concessions. Significant conservation challenges for this area are to develop cost-effective methods to monitor ecological responses to anthropogenic change and to understand how and why stakeholder decisions are made.
During the British Academy Visiting Fellowship, Dr. Erb will develop multidisciplinary research plans with colleagues at the University of Exeter and kick-start the programme using novel methods to determine the distribution of flagship orangutans and gibbons in the landscape and how this is affected by human activity.