Paraecologists

  Who are the paraecologists?
  Expertise of paraecologists
  Paraecologists assisting research projects


Who are the paraecologists?
  Top
The encyclopaedic knowledge of the natural world by Papua New Guineans is
well known. Villagers relying mostly on forest resources often posses exceptionally 
detailed knowledge of forest animals and plants, only a portion of which has been 
recorded in writing. This traditional knowledge of grassroots Papua New Guineans can 
be developed into skills, which are crucial to biological research and nature 
conservation. Gifted and dedicated young people with often little formal education can 
thus become paraecologists and lead locally based grassroots education and 
conservation efforts. They receive a general, introductory training (scientific method of 
inquiry, biology, ecology, computing), complemented by training for particular research 
and education activities as needed. 
 
The expertise of paraecologists is well suited for conducting biodiversity surveys as 
they can collect biological specimens, preserve them and perform their preliminary 
sorting to species, as well as perform field and laboratory experiments and 
observations. Their work results in first rate material, which can be deposited in 
national collections and available for taxonomic studies, as well as in new, valuable 
ecological data on the specimens. Further, the paraecologists record the field-
collected information to computer databases and document plant and animal 
specimens by taking both conventional and digital pictures, creating thus information 
sources on PNG plants and animals which are otherwise rarely available.
 
The number of paraecologist projects in the world is rather limited. Besides our
Center in PNG, similar programs have been developed in Guyana and particularly 
Costa Rica (see Links ).
 
Additional information: 
Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S. E. & Pyle, R. (2000) Quantifying Biodiversity: 
           Experience with paraecologists and Digital Photography in Papua New Guinea 
           and Guyana. BioScience 50, 899-908.
           [ pdf file 0.8 MB ]
Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S.E., Weiblen, G.D., Missa, O. & Stewart, A.J.A. (2004) 
           Conservation and biological monitoring of tropical forests: the role 
           of paraecologists. Journal of Applied Ecology 41, 163-174. [ pdf file 0.8 MB ]
Miller, S. E. (2001) Building Expertise at Research Locations: Relying upon 
           Paraecologists. National Museum of Natural History (Washington) 
           Research Highlights. 
           http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/parataxonomy/
 
Expertise of paraecologists
  Top
The expertise of the paraecologists includes: 
           (i) basics of general biology and other science-related fields, 
           (ii) insect and plant collecting and field study, using a wide range 
                of techniques, 
           (iii) insect and plant mounting and their preparation for taxonomic 
                study, 
           (iv) microscopy and digital macro photography,
           (v) computing, particularly data input and management of databases, 
                word editors, spreadsheets, internet www pages, and image editing 
                software, 
           (iv) principles of nature conservation and design of educational materials 
                on environmental issues, and 
           (v) practical skills such as scuba diving, tree climbing, or off-road driving. 

These skills are particularly relevant for documenting and the protection 
of the richness of the flora and fauna of PNG. The paraecologists are able 
to take part in a variety of biological research and conservation projects.

Photo gallery: Pictures
Publications by the Center: Research & Educational
 
Test your knowledge! Here is the "Christmas test" designed to assess 
the knowledge of our parataxanomists. Time limit for completion is 8 hours.
[ pdf file 9 MB ] 
Paraecologists assisting research projects
  Top
Examples of past projects assisted by The Center:
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic: Field Course of Tropical Ecology 
           for 11 undergraduate and postgraduate students, 3 weeks in September 2006. 
           Our Center hosted a group of overseas biology students and assisted them 
           in their varied field programme, including one-week stay in a lowland rainforest, 
           day trips to coral reefs and a trip to climb the PNG's highest peak, Mt. Wilhelm 
           (4,517 m). [ details ]
Princeton University, USA: Biodiversity survey of rain forests in West New Britain 
           (Papua New Guinea); lead by Dr. Johannes Foufopoulos, 1999 (click here 
           for comments)
Griffith University, Australia: Insect and plant diversity survey in lowland rain 
           forests around Madang, Papua New Guinea, lead by Prof. Roger Kitching 
           (AusAid-sponsored project), 1999
WWF: Biodiversity survey of Lepidoptera in Kikori (Papua New Guinea), 1997-2001.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, USA & Panama: Collecting material for 
           survey of Wolbachia parasites in insects, 1999 (comments). 
La Trobe University, Australia: Colonization of a young volcanic island (Long 
           Island, Papua New Guinea); lead by Prof. Ian Thorton, 2000 (comments).
Griffith University, Australia: Species richness and host specificity of rainforest 
           fruitflies in Papua New Guinea, lead by Prof. R. Drew (AusAid-sponsored project), 
           2000 - 2002 (details in our Research section)
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Rhode Island, USA: Biodiversity survey of the 
           Finnisterre Mts. (Papua New Guinea), lead by Dr. L. Dabek, 2001 - 2002. [ details ]
Indo-Pacific Conservation Alliance, USA: Biodiversity survey of the 
           Bintuni Bay (New Guinea - Indonesia), 2002
SUNY Stonybrook, USA: Decomposition in Tropical Forests, lead by J. Powers (the 
           site in Madang area, Papua New Guinea, managed by our Center is one of  
           a global network of sites), 2002.