Archive for January, 2014

PFS’s 7th paper “Shifting Baselines on a Tropical Forest Frontier…” published in PLOS ONE

January 28th, 2014 Comments off

Shifting Baselines on a Tropical Forest Frontier: Extirpations Drive Declines in Local Ecological Knowledge

Zhang Kai, Teoh Shu Woan, Li Jie, Eben Goodale, Kaoru Kitajima, Robert Bagchi, Rhett D. Harrison

“The Advanced Field Course for Ecology and Conservation is proud to announce the publication of research in PLOS ONE by three students from the 2012 course. Zhang Kai, Teoh Shu Woan and Li Jie conducted a project on the indigenous names of animals near the Bulong Reserve in western Xishuangbanna, where the field component of the course was held. Lie Jie, who works for the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserves, is native to the township of Mengsong, and helped the team talk to the people in Akha language. The team was interested in trends in the local knowledge about animals, and they used earlier research by Zhang Kai to prepare pictures of common, rare or extirpated (locally extinct) birds and mammals to the local people. They found that the abundance of animals was the largest determinant of whether people could assign a name: very few people were able to name rare or extirpated animals (except for some large mammals, known about through TV). In addition, older people were better able to assign specific names to animals, equivalent to giving both a genus and species name in Akha. The research underscores that the extirpation of animals, whether driven by habitat loss, fragmentation or hunting, will result in the loss of cultural knowledge about animals. This loss of knowledge potentially produces a vicious cycle, because cultural knowledge about animals can be helpful in building support in the community for conservation. The students’ research, entitled “Shifting baselines on a tropical forest frontier: extirpations drive declines in local ecological knowledge”, was published January 21, 2014 in PLOS ONE.

PLoS ONE is an open access journal, thus the full paper can be freely downloaded from

More publications of PFS office see

Categories: Development Notes

XTBG-OTS Climate Change Fieldcourse is open for registration

January 21st, 2014 Comments off

Title: The Ecology of Climate Change in the Tropics and SubtropicsIMG_2066

Type: Field course

Venue: Yunnan province, China

Dates: 16 June – 16 July 2014 (one month)

Organiser: Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences

& Organisation for Tropical Studies

Sponsors: Program for Field Studies in Tropical Asia Office, Center for Integrative Conservation, Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden

Eligibility:  participants will be graduate students and early-career researchers from the New and Old-World tropics, with students from Latin America, the USA and Southeast Asia, brought together for the first course of its kind.  The language of instruction will be English for which the students must demonstrate proficiency.

How to apply: Students from China and SE Asia should apply to XTBG directly, via instructions available at the PFS website; Students from the United States and Latin America should apply to OTS, via instructions available at

Deadlines:  Complete applications must be received by February 25, 2014.  Final acceptance decision will be made by March 10, 2014.

Costs:  Funding from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Science Foundation will cover the cost of airfare, visas and the course expenses except for personal incidental expenses.

Course description:  South East Asian forests have already been greatly impacted by rapid deforestation as a result of development and population growth. The growing risks to these threatened ecosystems from the impacts of climate change will be the focus of this new program bringing together participants and experts from five continents.

In June to July, 2014 Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences (XTBG-CAS), will host an entirely new training course, on “The Ecology of Climate Change in the Tropics and Sub-Tropics”. This course has been developed as collaboration between XTBG-CAS and the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS-Duke).

The course will bring together experts from around the world to teach different aspects of climate change ecology, from the practical, theoretical and social perspectives. It will use a mix of lectures on theory with practical field experiences on methods in a range of very different ecosystems across Yunnan Province, Southwest China. The course will encompass cutting-edge techniques and research technologies, and multiple perspectives on the interaction between climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem function. Topics will range from prediction (model-based approaches) to empirical research on species physiologies, and a timeframe from the Eocene to the future. Participants will be given the tools and insights to understand, interpret, evaluate and develop studies which integrate interdisciplinary forms of data to gain new insights into the ecology of climate change. Students will also develop and carry out their own independent research projects.

The course will take place at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, the premier tropical research centre in China on the northern margins of the Southeast-Asian tropics, and will include field-trips to tropical and subtropical forests, savanna, and a variety of agro-ecosystems. The steep climatic gradients in Yunnan make this the ideal place for the study of climate change ecology. XTBG (and nearby CTFS Plot Bubeng) represents the Northern edge of the Southeast Asian tropics as well as largest Botanic garden in China (in both collection size and extent). Ailaoshan is covered in extensive montane subtropical forest, and associated vegetation types, whereas Yuenjiang is one of the few hot-savannah areas in Southern China, and represents the newest XTBG Field-site. All three sites are part of the ASIAFLUX network, and have long-term climatic records.

Map of study areas:  XTBG (Red): Main site; Hot Dry Valley (Yellow)-YuanJiang; Sub-Tropics-Ailaoshan (Turquoise).

Map of study areas