• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

Often exhibiting high levels of biodiversity and endemism, mangrove forests demonstrate a remarkable interdependence between local flora and fauna such that a loss of diversity or density in one group has marked adverse effects on the other. Declines in burrowing crustacean populations, for example, have been shown to result in reduced organic turnover, decreased nutrient and energy cycling, and diminished primary productivity in mangrove species. Fiddler crabs, Uca species, are one of several semi-terrestrial, burrowing, mangrove decapods making up a keystone group commonly referred to as engineers. Indonesia boasts the highest diversity of fiddler crab species of any country in the world with 14 total species, seven of which can be found within an area of 4-square meters within the Ambeua mangrove near Hoga Island. Previous research at the Hoga marine laboratory has shown that local fiddler crab populations are relatively tolerant of high temperatures; however, with environmental temperatures across the Malay Archipelago expected to increase by up to 4°C in coming decades, it is unclear how fiddler crab populations and ultimately mangrove ecosystems, may be affected. Potential dissertation projects could evaluate differences in thermal adaptations of Uca spp. occupying different intertidal regions or may look at acclimation responses of a single Uca species. All studies would include a field observation component, though most of the empirical work would take place in the Hoga Island research laboratory. Students are strongly encouraged to contact their project field supervisor early in the proposal development process.

Extended Dissertation Summary

Indonesia - Wallacea Marine Research Objectives

There is a triangle of reefs in Eastern Indonesia that have the highest diversity of hard coral genera, the proxy commonly used to assess overall diversity of coral reefs anywhere in the world. Both the marine research stations being used by the Opwall teams are in the centre of this triangle. The South Buton Marine Training and Research Centre has established a series of standard monitoring sites on reefs south of Bau Bau and around the surrounding small islands, with the objective being to use the data to develop plans for conserving these reefs. The Hoga Island Marine Research Station is located in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park. Over the last 20 years, a series of scientists have been based
at this site during the Opwall survey seasons and as a result, this is now the most published site in the Coral Triangle. For the last 14 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for macroinvertebrates, fish communities, coral cover and community structure. The 2019 season will complete this monitoring plus some additional research projects.

The South Buton marine research centre opened in 2013 and has established a series of standard monitoring sites on reefs south of Bau Bau and around the adjacent islands. These are being monitored annually and it is hoped to use the data to demonstrate that a number of the reefs in this area are of high conservation value. Preliminary social studies have commenced as of 2017, involving interviewing fishermen and other local stakeholders to gauge areas of high fishing pressure and the preferred catch methods. The next step is then to begin implementing some conservation management strategies involving all of the local stakeholders in the near future. There is also a small team at this site working in collaboration with the Global Fin Print Project, which monitors shark and ray populations through the use of baited remote underwater video systems.

The Hoga Island marine research station is located in the heart of the Wakatobi Marine National Park. Over the last 20 years a series of scientists have been based at this site during the Opwall survey seasons and have built up the publications emanating from the site to a level which is unsurpassed by any other marine research site in the Coral Triangle. These data and publications have been used to promote the biodiversity value of the Wakatobi, raise its profile internationally and in particular enable it to be designated as a Biosphere Reserve. For the last 12 years a series of constant monitoring sites around Hoga and eastern Kaledupa have been monitored for fish communities, coral cover and community structure and macro-invertebrates. In addition annual fisheries monitoring is being completed to assess changes in the fisheries particularly as some of the management initiatives developed by Opwall (e.g. buy outs of fishing licences and carrageenan extraction) begin to hopefully have an impact. Alongside these long-term monitoring projects there are also newer projects such as a coral restoration program and seagrass monitoring to provide a wide range of opportunities to all.

  • Develop an independent research project and write a formal proposal
  • Complete a week-long training course on reef survey techniques
  • Learn common field laboratory techniques
  • Help manage a small field-based aquarium facility
  • Collect data from physiological observations under controlled conditions
  • Learn how to organise and analyse large data sets
  • Opwall fee
  • Cost of international flights into and out of Makassar
  • Cost of internal travel to and from the start and end point of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. This costs around £220 or $300 on average. Extra nights’ accommodation in Makassar costs around £25 or $36.
  • Visa costs of $35 for a VOA (31-60 days, with extension), £50 for a social visa (60+ days, with extension) plus £45(VOA) or £60 (Social Visa) for the extension. Please get in touch with someone from Opwall for more detailed advice.
  • Dive equipment rental – £60 or $90 per week for a full dive kit. If you only wish to snorkel and want to hire snorkel equipment, the cost is £30 or $45 per week. Please note that wetsuits cannot be provided – you should bring your own.
  • Park entrance fees – £20 or $29
  • PADI manual and PIC card (if you are completing your Open Water qualification) – £69 or $87 approx.
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
  • Spending money for snacks/drinks/laundry – Indonesian rupiah only.
  • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified

Climate

At the marine sites during the day, the weather is normally sunny and warm (around 30 degrees Celsius), and the night temperatures drop to around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Being on the coast means there is often a pleasant breeze so it does not always feel this hot. It rains rarely, but when it does it tends to be very heavy for short periods of time.

Fitness level required

Low-Moderate. Some fitness is required for in water activities, but conditions are relatively easy.

Creature comforts

Facilities on Hoga are comfortable, but very basic – the site has shared huts with beds and mattresses and a mandi style bathroom (squat toilet and bucket shower) attached. There is very limited cell phone signal which can usually only be used with an Indonesian SIM card and no Wifi access.

Locations

  • Indonesia
  • Hoga

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Preparation

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