Serge Wich

Serge Wich
Liverpool John Moores University | LJMU · School of Natural Sciences and Psychology

PhD

About

354
Publications
209,813
Reads
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11,428
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - present
University of Amsterdam
Position
  • Honorary Professor in Great Ape Conservation
August 2012 - present
Liverpool John Moores University
Position
  • Professor in Primate Biology
January 2010 - August 2012
University of Zurich

Publications

Publications (354)
Article
In recent years, drones are increasingly used for fauna monitoring and wildlife tracking; however, the application of drones for tracking wildlife is restricted to those users with the technical capacity to develop such systems. We explore the potential of wildlife tracking with drones by using a system consisting of a multirotor drone, smartphones...
Article
Conservation strategies are rarely systematically evaluated, which reduces transparency, hinders the cost-effective deployment of resources, and hides what works best in different contexts. Using data on the iconic and critically endangered orangutan (Pongo spp.), we developed a novel spatiotemporal framework for evaluating conservation investments...
Article
Full-text available
Observing and quantifying primate behavior in the wild is challenging. Human presence affects primate behavior and habituation of new, especially terrestrial, individuals is a time-intensive process that carries with it ethical and health concerns, especially during the recent pandemic when primates are at even greater risk than usual. As a result,...
Article
Full-text available
Commercial, off-the-shelf, multirotor drones are increasingly employed to survey wildlife due to their relative ease of use and ability to cover areas quicker than traditional methods. Such drones fitted with high-resolution visual spectrum (RGB) cameras are an appealing tool for wildlife biologists. However, evaluations of the application of drone...
Article
Full-text available
Critically Endangered orangutans are translocated in several situations: reintroduced into historic range where no wild populations exist, released to reinforce existing wild populations, and wild-to-wild translocated to remove individuals from potentially risky situations. Translocated orangutans exposed to human diseases, including Coronavirus Di...
Chapter
Full-text available
For decades, conservation has lagged behind the rate and scale of some of the world’s primary environmental challenges, with scientists unable to collect, monitor, and incorporate sufficient data necessary to support addressing global threats to wildlife and their habitat. However, with innovative technology, we are rapidly improving the way that s...
Preprint
Full-text available
Assessing where wildlife populations are at risk from future habitat loss is particularly important for land-use planning and avoiding biodiversity declines. Combining projections of future deforestation with species density information provides an improved way to anticipate such declines. Using the endemic and critically endangered Bornean orangut...
Article
Full-text available
Drones are being increasingly used in conservation to tackle the illegal poaching of animals. An important aspect of using drones for this purpose is establishing the technological and the environmental factors that increase the chances of success when detecting poachers. Recent studies focused on investigating these factors, and this research buil...
Chapter
Full-text available
This annex presents ape abundance estimates at the site level. The term "site" refers to a protected area and/or its buffer zone, a logging concession or group of concessions, or any discrete area where a survey has taken place in the past two decades. This annex also lists a few sites that were last surveyed in the 1970s and 1980s.
Article
Full-text available
Oil seed crops, especially oil palm, are among the most rapidly expanding agricultural land uses, and their expansion is known to cause significant environmental damage. Accordingly, these crops often feature in public and policy debates which are hampered or biased by a lack of accurate information on environmental impacts. In particular, the lack...
Article
Objectives Although fermented food use is ubiquitous in humans, the ecological and evolutionary factors contributing to its emergence are unclear. Here we investigated the ecological contexts surrounding the consumption of fruits in the late stages of fermentation by wild primates to provide insight into its adaptive function. We hypothesized that...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the ecological factors that drive animal density patterns in time and space is key to devising effective conservation strategies. In Tanzania, most chimpanzees (~75%) live outside national parks where human activities threaten their habitat’s integrity and connectivity. Mahale Mountains National Park (MMNP), therefore, is a critical a...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, orangutans ( Pongo spp.) lived in large contiguous areas of intact rainforest. Today, they are also found in highly modified and fragmented landscapes dominated by oil palm or industrial timber plantations; a situation that calls for new conservation approaches. Here we report signs of orangutan presence in more than 120 small forest...
Article
Full-text available
Logging and conversion of tropical forests in Southeast Asia have resulted in the expansion of landscapes containing a mosaic of habitats that may vary in their ability to sustain local biodiversity. However, the complexity of these landscapes makes it difficult to assess abundance and distribution of some species using ground-based surveys alone....
Article
Full-text available
The Tapanuli Orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) is the most threatened great ape species in the world. It is restricted to an area of about 1,000 km 2 of upland forest where fewer than 800 animals survive in three declining subpopulations. Through a historical ecology approach involving analysis of newspaper, journals, books and museum records from th...
Article
Full-text available
The Tapanuli Orangutan ( Pongo tapanuliensis ) is the most threatened great ape species in the world. It is restricted to an area of about 1,000 km ² of upland forest where fewer than 800 animals survive in three declining subpopulations. Through a historical ecology approach involving analysis of newspaper, journals, books and museum records from...
Article
Using data on the iconic orangutan (Pongo spp.), we developed a novel spatiotemporal framework for evaluating conservation investments. We show that around USD 1 billion was invested between 1999 and 2019 into orangutan conservation by governments, non-governmental organizations, companies and communities. Broken down by allocation to different con...
Article
Full-text available
Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires balancing demands on land between agriculture (SDG 2) and biodiversity (SDG 15). The production of vegetable oils and, in particular, palm oil, illustrates these competing demands and trade-offs. Palm oil accounts for ~40% of the current global annual demand for vegetable oil as food, ani...
Article
Chimpanzees, like all great ape species, have experienced a dramatic decline in global numbers during the past decades. The degradation, fragmentation and loss of suitable habitat impede chimpanzee movements, reducing the potential for dispersal and thus population viability. In Tanzania, 90% of the 2000-3000 remaining chimpanzees are found within...
Article
Full-text available
Threats to biodiversity are well documented. However, to effectively conserve species and their habitats, we need to know which conservation interventions do (or do not) work. Evidence-based conservation evaluates interventions within a scientific framework. The Conservation Evidence project has summarized thousands of studies testing conservation...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Tapanuli orangutan ( Pongo tapanuliensis ) is the most threatened great ape species in the world. It is restricted to an area of about 1,000 km 2 of mostly hill forest where fewer than 800 animals survive in three declining subpopulations. Through a historical ecology approach involving analysis of colonial-era and other literature, we demonstr...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing body of research indicating that drones can disturb animals. However, it is usually unclear whether the disturbance is due to visual or auditory cues. Here, we examined the effect of drone flights on the behaviour of great dusky swifts Cypseloides senex and white-collared swifts Streptoprocne zonaris in two breeding sites where d...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aim Modelling African great ape distribution has until now focused on current or past conditions, whilst future scenarios remain scarcely explored. Using an ensemble forecasting approach, we predicted changes in taxon-specific distribution under future scenarios of climate, land-use and human population changes. Location Sub-Saharan Africa Method...
Article
Full-text available
In contrast to the African great apes, orangutans (Pongo spp.) are semisolitary: Individuals are often on their own, but form aggregations more often than expected by chance. These temporary aggregations provide social benefits such as mating opportunities. When fruit availability is high, costs of aggregating should be lower, because competition i...
Article
Full-text available
Populations of the Critically Endangered Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) are declining despite more than 10 years of conservation action plan implementation. Here we analyzed the impacts on species' population and habitat from orangutan conservation strategies implemented between 2007 and 2017. We also assessed data on investments into orangutan...
Preprint
Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires balancing demands on land between agriculture (SDG 2) and biodiversity (SDG 15). The production of vegetable oils in general, and palm oil in particular, is perhaps the most controversial illustration of these trade-offs. Global annual demand for vegetable oil for food, animal feed and fu...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests and peatlands provide important ecological, climate and socio‐economic benefits from the local to the global scale. However, these ecosystems and their associated benefits are threatened by anthropogenic activities, including agricultural conversion, timber harvesting, peatland drainage and associated fire. Here, we identify key ch...
Article
Full-text available
Oil palm is rapidly expanding in Southeast Asia and represents one of the major drivers of deforestation in the region. This includes both industrial-scale and smallholder plantations, the management of which entails specific challenges, with either operational scale having its own particular social and environmental challenges. Although, past stud...
Article
Full-text available
Quantifying the abundance of species is essential for their management and conservation. Much effort has been invested in surveys of freshwater dolphins in the Amazon basin but river dimensions and complex logistics limit replication of such studies across the region. We evaluated the effectiveness of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surve...
Article
Full-text available
Search and rescue (SAR) is a vital line of defense against unnecessary loss of life. However, in a potentially hazardous environment, it is important to balance the risks associated with SAR action. Drones have the potential to help with the efficiency, success rate and safety of SAR operations as they can cover large or hard to access areas quickl...
Article
Full-text available
Efforts to designate priority areas for conservation have had a long history, with most modern initiatives focused on either designating areas important for biodiversity or those least impacted by direct human disturbance. Ecologically intact ecosystems are becoming increasingly limited on the planet, making their identification and conservation an...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the efficacy of a drone equipped with a thermal camera as a potential survey tool to detect wild Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and other tropical primates. Using the thermal camera we successfully detected 41 orangutans and a troop of proboscis monkeys, all of which were confirmed by ground observers. We discuss the potential...
Article
Full-text available
Primates are facing an impending extinction crisis, driven by extensive habitat loss, land use change, and hunting. Climate change is an additional threat, which alone or in combination with other drivers, may severely impact those taxa unable to track suitable environmental conditions. Here, we investigate the extent of climate and land use/cover...
Article
Full-text available
Accurate and precise population estimates form the basis of conservation action but are lacking for many arboreal species due to the high costs and difficulty in surveying these species. Recently, researchers have started to use drones to obtain data on animal distribution and density. In this study, we compared ground and drone counts for spider m...
Article
Conservation biologists increasingly employ drones to reduce poaching of animals. However, there are no published studies on the probability of detecting poachers and the factors influencing detection. In an experimental setting with voluntary subjects, we evaluated the influence of various factors on poacher detection probability: camera (visual s...
Article
Full-text available
Underground peat fires are a major hazard to health and livelihoods in Indonesia, and are a major contributor to carbon emissions globally. Being subterranean, these fires can be difficult to detect and track, especially during periods of thick haze and in areas with limited accessibility. Thermal infrared detectors mounted on drones present a pote...
Preprint
Full-text available
Underground peat fires are a major hazard to health and livelihoods in Indonesia, and are a major contributor to carbon emissions globally. Being subterranean, these fires can be difficult to detect and track, especially during periods of thick haze and in areas with limited accessibility. Thermal infrared detectors mounted on drones present a pote...
Article
Full-text available
The proliferation of relatively affordable off-the-shelf drones offers great opportunities for wildlife monitoring and conservation. Similarly the recent reduction in cost of thermal infrared cameras also offers new promise in this field, as they have the advantage over conventional RGB cameras of being able to distinguish animals based on their bo...
Preprint
Full-text available
The proliferation of relatively affordable off-the-shelf drones offers great opportunities for wildlife monitoring and conservation. Similarly the recent reduction in cost of thermal infrared cameras also offers new promise in this field, as they have the advantage over conventional RGB cameras of being able to distinguish animals based on their bo...
Article
A recent report, published by the Government of Indonesia with support from the Food and Agricultural Organization and Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative, states that orangutan populations (Pongo spp.) have increased by more than 10% in Indonesia from 2015 to 2017, exceeding the government target of an annual 2% population increas...
Book
In this book, we introduce the use of drones for wildlife conservation. We provide a broad overview of when drone technology can be useful for wildlife conservation before going into the different types of drones that are available and the basic configuration of such systems. After this we discuss the various types of sensors that are being used to...
Article
Full-text available
Despite growing awareness about its detrimental effects on tropical biodiversity, land conversion to oil palm continues to increase rapidly as a consequence of global demand, profitability, and the income opportunity it offers to producing countries. Although most industrial oil palm plantations are located in Southeast Asia, it is argued that much...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Report on the Status of Great Apes to the CITES Standing Committee by United Nations Environment Programme Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Using thermal infrared detectors mounted on drones, and applying techniques from astrophysics, we hope to support the field of conservation ecology by creating an automated pipeline for the detection and identification of certain endangered species and poachers from thermal infrared data. We test part of our system by attempting to detect simulated...
Preprint
Full-text available
Using thermal infrared detectors mounted on drones, and applying techniques from astrophysics, we hope to support the field of conservation ecology by creating an automated pipeline for the detection and identification of certain endangered species and poachers from thermal infrared data. We test part of our system by attempting to detect simulated...
Chapter
Spatial analysis reaches across all the subdisciplines of anthropology. A cultural anthropologist, for example, can use such analysis to trace the extent of distinctive cultural practices; an archaeologist can use it to understand the organization of ancient irrigation systems; a primatologist to quantify the density of primate nesting sites; a pal...
Chapter
Full-text available
This annex presents ape abundance estimates at the site level. The term "site" refers to a protected area and its buffer zone, a logging concession or group of concessions, or any discrete area where a survey has taken place in the past two decades, although this annex also lists a few sites that were last surveyed in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of t...