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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Connecting science and management through biodiversity research and collaboration

PI: Made Pharmawati (Universitas Udayana)
U.S. Partners: Forest Rohwer (San Diego State University) and Paul H. Barber (University of California, Los Angeles)
Project Dates: August 2013 to March 2018
 

Indonesian Picture A
Eka Fibayani Imaniar, a fourth-year undergraduate student, harvests seagrasses at Sindhu Beach, Bali, under the supervision of I Made Pharmawati, left (Photo courtesy Dr. Pharmawati).

Indonesia has almost 80,000 km of coastline surrounded by human development; almost 50 percent of Indonesia’s 240 million inhabitants rely heavily on coastal areas for their livelihood and as source of protein. More than 60 percent of the population’s protein intake is derived from fish and other ocean-related products. Despite an increasing conservation focus throughout Indonesia, coastal environmental degradation is still growing exponentially and fisheries are still not properly managed. Addressing degradation of key coastal habitats and achieving proper fisheries management are essential in reducing pressures on marine ecosystems and threats to coral reef fish. This project has two primary focus areas. The first is coastal sea grass, a coastal ecosystem that receives little attention but is a critical nursery ground for economically important coastal fisheries. The second is humphead wrasse fisheries, the habitats of an extremely valuable reef fish that is being rapidly depleted throughout Indonesia and the Coral Triangle.
Using genetic methods, the researchers will describe sea grass genetic diversity throughout Indonesia and identify those regions of the country most susceptible to environmental threats, including climate change. The result will be useful in helping marine managers determine which areas need to be prioritized for conservation efforts. The scientists will also investigate humphead wrasse fisheries in western Indonesia, supplementing fisheries data with information on habitat community connectivity and parentage analysis that could aid the Indonesian government in effectively managing these fisheries. This information is particularly important in assuring that the fisheries activities sustainable while at the same time assuring a reliable basis for livelihoods in this area. While many universities and research institutions have started using genetics techniques, Indonesian research capacity in genetics is still relatively small. A key goal of this project is to promote genetic methods, which will provide significant training opportunities to the broader Indonesian scientific community by involving more than 10 universities across the country. By increasing their technical capabilities, Indonesian scientists will be able to increase their involvement in the global scientific community. Thus, this project should help to advance the Indonesian science community while producing scientifically reliable data that will promote the better management of marine environments by conservationists. 
Summary of Recent Activities
Two seagrass monitoring activities took place as part of this PEER project during the last quarter of 2017. The PI Dr. Pharmawati and her team conducted the first activity at Dowora Beach, Tidore, Ambon, October 19-21. Working in collaboration with academic staff from the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science at Universitas Khairun, Ternate, they found that Dowora Beach, Tidore has low seagrass species diversity. From five transects, there were only six seagrass species recorded. The second monitoring campaign was conducted at Serangan Beach, Bali, November 3-5, and it involved students from the Biology Department of Udayana University. This activity featured two components: (1) seagrass introduction, including seagrass species, identification, and function, and (2) seagrass monitoring techniques. In the five transects at this site, the team found eight seagrass species.

Dr. Pharmawati reports that a jointly authored manuscript entitled “Strong Genetic Differentiation in Tropical Seagrass Enhalus acoroides (Hydrocharitaceae) at the Indo-Malay Archipelago Revealed by Microsatellite DNA” has been accepted for publication in PEER J, a scientific journal indexed in Scopus with impact factor 2.2. Another manuscript on DNA barcoding of seagrass species is in preparation for submission to a different journal. Meanwhile, the team has been working to analyze DNA sequence data of Enhalus acoroides from the Lesser Sunda region (Bali, Lombok, Flores, Kupang) and eastern Indonesia. As the project moves towards its currently scheduled completion date at the end of March 2018, the PI is planning to conduct two more seagrass monitoring exercises in February, one in Kupang and the other in East Java. The data collected will then be compared with that from Bali and Tidore. She also expects to receive 2bRAD data that has been processed in the lab of U.S. partner Dr. Paul Barber at UCLA. A final workshop on genetic analysis will be carried out in March.
 
 

Undergrad team members conducting electrophoresis

Dr. Pharmawati explains how to prepare reaction mixture for PCR reaction

Dr. Made Pharmawati explains how to prepare reaction mixture for PCR reaction (Photo courtesy of Dr. Pharmawati)Yunita and Maliza, undergraduate students of Udayana University, doing agarose gel electrophoresis of Enhalus acoroides PCR products of microsatellite DNA (Photo courtesy of Dr. Pharmawati).
 
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