OOS 9-3 - Community engagement in amphibian and reptile research as a path for the new century

Tuesday, August 9, 2016: 8:40 AM
Grand Floridian Blrm G, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Maureen A. Donnelly, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Background/Question/Methods: The majority of amphibian species are found in the developing countries of the tropics. These species-rich regions of the world are home to increasing human populations and I propose that we can engage communities that live adjacent to amphibians and reptiles in the tropics using Citizen Science approaches.  Target species should be easy to identify but should inform us of aspects of ecosystem function. I will draw on two examples of Integrated Conservation and Development programs that stand as models for the future:  Wildlife Clubs and Ranger Training programs in central Guyana and parabiologists working in a field station in Papua New Guinea.

Results/Conclusions: In Guyana, the community elders asked the Iwokrama Centre to form Wildlife Clubs to introduce young people to the natural heritage that surrounds the villages so they would grow to care for the ecosystem. The Wildlife Clubs employed an adult to supervise activities and young village members are excited to engage in biological explorations of their backyards.  The Ranger Training program provided employment and built capacity for villagers surrounding the Iwokrama Forest. In Papua New Guinea, a doctoral student trained residents from two local towns in amphibian sampling methods. The payment for research services helped promote the sustained use of forest resources and built capacity for villagers. Citizen science monitoring programs in the tropics could provide a wealth of information regarding the state of forests and could be a viable approach for the future as interest in organismal biology continues to decline in the developed world.