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Research Program ~ Research Team ~ Census Team

The Gunung Palung Orangutan Project is a large multi-faceted research project which is investigating orangutan reproduction, behavior, social organization and physiology within an ecological context. Detailed behavioral data is collected in addition to urine samples from which hormones can be measured. All orangutan foods are collected and processed to analyze the caloric and nutrient composition of the orangutan diet. The project is also investigating broader issues related to great ape and human evolution. It has relevance for understanding the limits on the reproductive potential of orangutan populations and is important for conserving this endangered species.


Since 1994, the project has collected almost 50,000 hours of direct observation of wild orangutans, one of the most extensive data sets on a wild great ape ever collected. To date, over 140 food samples have been analyzed for their nutritional content and over 2500 urine samples have been collected for hormonal and health analysis. The research project is currently collecting data for a wide variety of projects, including:

  • Orangutan interbirth intervals and female hormonal functioning

  • Hormonal, behavioral and energetic differences between males: bi-maturism and intra-sexual dimorphism in males

  • Juvenile development, dependency and learning

  • Sex differences in feeding behavior, nutritional intake and foraging

  • Inter-population comparison of cultural behaviors and tool use

  • Ranging patterns, habitat use and energetics

  • Socio-sexual behavior and hormonal correlates

  • Orangutan social organization

  • Genetic studies of paternity and relatedness

  • Skeletal evidence of male-male competition

  • Digestion and fecal analysis of juveniles vs. adults

  • Infection, parasite load and medicinal plant use

  • Habitat quality and orangutan densities

  • Canopy locomotion and positional behavior

  • Maternal behavior and energetics.


    The Gunung Palung Orangutan Project operates with local support from the Gunung Palung National Park Office (BTN-GP), Indonesian Institute for Sciences (LIPI), Center for Research in Development and Biology (PPPB), Universitas Tanjungpura (UNTAN) - Pontianak, and the Directorate of Nature Conservation (PHKA).The Gunung Palung Orangutan Project has been supported by the National Geographic Society, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, National Science Foundation, Great Ape Conservation Fund (U.S. Fish and Wildlife), Wenner-Gren Foundation, Harvard University's Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, Milton Fund of Harvard University, Conservation, Food and Health Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation.

Much of our research focuses on the feeding ecology of orangutans and the nutritional composition of their diets .

Urine collection is a part of daily data collection at GP.

GIS techniques are incorporated into all-day orangutan follows to understand orangutan ranging behavior.


* Volunteer Project Managers are sometimes needed to assist with the project. Those interested in volunteering for the project, or conducting research at the site should contact Dr. Knott at the address below.

 

 

Contact: Dr. Cheryl Knott, Boston University Department of Anthropology, 232 Bay State Rd, Boston, MA 02215
knott@bu.edu


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0936199. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


 

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