Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates

Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

One Fits All: developing decapods biodiversity research for education, conservation and research benefits

PI: Ambariyanto (,, Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center and Diponegoro University
U.S. Partner: Christopher Meyer, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Project Dates: January 2016 - December 2020

Project Overview

4-260 _pic2
Photos courtesy of Andrianus Sembiring

Biodiversity is defined as the variety of organisms within a given area. The Convention on Biological Diversity indicates that the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for economic growth. However, despite having the highest marine biodiversity in the world, Indonesia frequently faces significant economic challenges and poor development due to unsustainable exploitation of their natural resources. Efforts to quantify biodiversity have traditionally relied on easily observed parameters like coral cover and fish biomass, while smaller invertebrates that significantly contribute to reef diversity are often ignored due to difficulties in identification, potentially resulting in inaccurate assessment of biodiversity and reef health. Although Indonesia is home to seas featuring more than half of all known marine species, not all taxa of these species have been assessed and quantified, and local expertise to support biodiversity research is small in relation to Indonesia’s size and biodiversity. This project focuses on quantifying the biodiversity of decapods (an order of crustaceans that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns, and shrimp) across the Indonesia while also nurturing international collaboration and improving local taxonomic expertise. The research team will implement an integrated research and education program using autonomous reef monitoring structure (ARMS) and dead coral heads (DCH) as artificial and natural collection platforms for reef-associated decapods. Decapod diversity will then be assessed using both traditional taxonomy and cutting-edge genetic approaches. The results of this project will provide the first insights into the magnitude of marine biodiversity in one of the most diverse groups of marine metazoans in Indonesia, while also assessing how this diversity is distributed throughout the archipelago. Results will help inform local researchers and managers regarding health of reef ecosystems across Indonesia, facilitating the development of conservation strategies based on current biodiversity assessments.

The data collected will be helpful in designing management strategies to preserve biodiversity hotspots within Indonesia and in focusing conservation efforts on particularly threatened areas. Trainings and workshops organized through this project will increase local capacity to develop high quality biodiversity research and nurture the growth of local taxonomists. In addition, smartphone applications ( and online database produced through this project will, for the first time, make biodiversity research accessible to people beyond the scientific community, which is critical for mobilizing grassroots support for marine conservation. Through joint research and educational programs with the Smithsonian Institution, the team will train dozens of Indonesian students and researchers through experiential learning in research-intensive courses. By using research as a platform for education, the project will simultaneously improve understanding of Indonesian marine biodiversity and develop the next generation of biodiversity scientists.

Summary of Recent Activities

The PI Dr. Ambariyanto and his colleagues held a writing clinic at Diponegoro University March 12-14, 2020, with the aim of increasing the participants’ capacity to develop and write scientific papers while also boosting the university’s ability to produce international-level publications. The 64 participants (half male, half female) included students, faculty, and researchers, and the event was organized in collaboration with the Centre of Research Unit of Diponegoro University and the NGO Yayasan Biodiversitas Indonesia (Bionesia). During the three-day program, participants were divided into small groups, each assisted by an instructor, to discuss and propose solutions to common problems encountered during writing. As of mid-April, the participants had already drafted at least 63 papers on a wide range of themes and submitted them to the local peer-reviewed publication Biodiversitas.

On the research side of the project, although they were limited from mid-March to working from home due to pandemic-related orders from the local government in Semarang, the PI and his team continued intensive communications with their U.S. partners. The focus now is on writing up the project results for publication. Lab and field activities will resume once the public health situation in Indonesia improves and the associated restrictions are lifted. The project is being extended through December 31, 2020, to allow additional time in view of the delays imposed by the coronavirus situation.

Links to Publications

The researchers on this PEER team published three joint papers with their U.S. partner during 2018, which may be downloaded from the website of the open access IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (EES) through the links below:  

Community Structure of Decapod Inhabit Dead Coral Pocillopora sp. in Pemuteran, Bali

Biodiversity of Cryptofauna (Decapods) and Their Correlation with Dead Coral Pocillopora sp. Volume at Bunaken Island, North Sulawesi

Conditions of Decapods Infraorders in Dead Coral Pocillopora sp. at Pemuteran, Bali: Study Case 2011 and 2016