Java’s many volcanic mountains hold a wealth of endemic birds. Very few surveys have ever been done on most of these mountains, a knowledge gap that needs to be filled, especially as the island’s montane birds are under threat from forest clearance and capture of birds for the cage bird trade. Heavy trapping for the cagebird trade has brought about reportedly precipitous declines in species such as Javan Green Magpie and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush. Our recent review of ‘the state’ of West Java’s mountains including analysis of forest cover change (Higginbottom et al. 2018) highlighted a series of around 20 mountains/blocks, all needing biological and socio-economic surveys fast. Coupled with this was a need and a desire by Indonesia’s Environment Ministry to consider expanding their protected area network in upland Java to better protect the country’s key species.
This is a four year project coordinated by Burung Indonesia, the BirdLife partner in Indonesia in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, which aims to identify priority areas for conservation in the Javan uplands – ones which have important populations of key species and habitats and the conditions under which these can be protected into the future – and to take one or more of these areas right through to designation as official protected areas.
One of the first steps in this pipeline to protection is to conduct socio-economic studies in and around the candidate mountains, and to survey as well as we can the wildlife they contain. The project intends to find out how local communities use the forest and perceive its value and how this might change under protection. We also want to know about patterns of bird trapping and which areas might serve as sanctuaries or release sites for threatened birds in the future. Not least, we need to know which species from a range of taxonomic groups survive on which mountains, where they occur and in what kind of numbers in which habitats.
The project uses a system of week-long surveys at multiple sites within mountains. It employs a mix of controlled and relatively high tech surveys using remote cameras and acoustic recorders arranged along transects, and more extensive ‘quick and dirty’ encounter rate searches for key species. Records from the latter may feed into spatial distributional analyses (such as ENFAs) which will help to identify hotspots for protection at the local level. Data will also yield encounter rates of key songbirds, to assess their current status, to identify strongholds for them, and to form a baseline against which future changes can be gauged.
People: Stuart Marsden, Nigel Collar, Ria Saryanthi, Ridha Junaid, Andrew Owen
Contact: s.marsden [at] mmu.ac.uk
Funder/s: Rainforest Trust, Chester Zoo, EAZA Silent Forest campaign
Further information on this project can be found at https://stuartmarsden.blogspot.com/2018/10/biodiversity-surveys-on-gunung-slamet.html