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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
During the first half of 2017, IBRC staff lead by Aji Wahyu Anggoro, along with students from Diponegoro and Hasanuddin universities made field visits to collect samples of two marine species of interest. Siganus (a genus that includes species such as rabbitfishes and spinefoots) has high economic value as a primary source of protein for many coastal communities, while members of the genus Manta have attracted a booming diving tourism industry in many parts in Indonesia and are currently threatened due to habitat change and fragmentation. Siganus sampling was conducted off the Karimunjawa Islands (Central Java) and Makassar (South Sulawesi), with about 30 samples of different species being collected. In addition to Manta sampling, the team also held field identification training in Solor (East Nusa Tenggara). This sampling and training activity was a collaborative effort between the PEER team and Misool Baseftin, a charity arm of the private island resort, Misool Eco Resort. During sample collection, the team also conducted Manta Watch, a visual identification and recording of Manta species roaming the waters off Solor. The team successfully collected 32 samples from both live and dead stranded Mantas, and sampling is still ongoing until the number of samples collected is sufficient for population genetic study purposes. On this collaborative Manta project, Aji and his team also conducted training on Manta identification using morphological and genetic identification. The training was held on May 4 – 11, 2017 and included 21 participants from seven universities around East Nusa Tenggara, including Nusa Cendana University, Muhammadiyah University Kupang, Artha Wacana University, Politani Kupang, IKTL Larantuka, Tri Buana University Alor, and Nusa Nipa University Maumere. The training also involved collaboration with Diponegoro University regarding the use of genetic and barcoding methods for species and population identification.

From July to October 2017, seagrass-related activities on this project focused on analyzing sequence data for Enhalus acoroides from Bali and Lombok, as well as continued work on Syringodium diversity. On September 3, 2017, PI Dr. Pharmawati organized a seagrass introduction workshop for high school students in Denpasar, Bali. This activity covered seagrass species introduction, as well as identification and monitoring of seagrass species at Sindhu Beach. This activity attracted 34 participants, including students from four local high schools (SMAN 1, SMAN3, SMAN5, SMAN6), three Universitas Udayana students, and three high school teachers. The facilitators were three lecturers from the Biology Department, Udayana University, plus two alumni from that department who had done their senior thesis projects on seagrass diversity as members of the PEER project team.

On September 15-16, 2017, Dr. Pharmawati presented some results on trnS-trnfM sequences of Enhalus acoroides from Bali and Lombok at a national seminar of BIOETI and PTTI (Seminar Nasional Biologi : Biodiversitas dan Ekologi Tropika Indonesia [BioETI] and Penggalang Taksonomi Tumbuhan Indonesia [PTTI]) at Andalas University, Padang. During the event she received some helpful feedback from the audience on best practices for the detection of biodiversity. She and her colleagues are still working on the analysis of the sequences and plan to publish a paper in an academic journal. On September 23, the PI was an invited keynote speaker at the Seminar Nasional Pendidikan Sain Biologi at Universitas Muhamadyah, Kupang. She spoke on the use of molecular markers for the assessment of biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial, and provided information on activities under her PEER project. As the project moves into its final six months, she and her team will focus on writing up papers for publication, continuing seagrass monitoring at Serangan Beach with involvement of university students, and conducting a workshop on genetics.
 
 

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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