Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Upcoming Summer Research in Fiji

Reef fish for sale in the Suva Fishmarket, Fiji (Photo by S. Jones).

This summer I will continue research in Fiji's Lau Group. This work is supported by the National Geographic Society and involves a team of researchers including U.S.-, Canadian-, Australian-, and Fiji-based collaborators. Our work focuses on understanding marine biodiversity and resource use in the past and present.

Current scientific studies are increasingly taking into account the ecological complexity of the past to identify causes of change and demonstrate achievable goals for resource management and restoration. Adding an archaeological dimension significantly expands the concept of biodiversity by generating long-term perspectives on human-environmental interactions.

Sepesa Colati scaling a jack on Aiwa (Photo by S. Jones).

Our project will contribute to the understanding and conservation of biodiversity by: (1) documenting living marine faunas through detailed biological surveys on four diverse islands in the Lau Group, Fiji; (2) ethnographic recording of modern marine collection patterns by Lauan communities; and (3) generating long-term data on marine diversity and exploitation through archaeological work. Together this information will characterize the causes and rates of ecological change in this marine setting. Moreover, long-term temporal data will facilitate the development of programs for sustainable use of marine resources in the study area and beyond. We plan to gain additional important insights into the conservation of marine resources through our interactions with the Lauan communities and fisherpeople. Fijians have a long history of applying their rich traditional ecological knowledge to manage and conserve important natural resources.

Crabs served at a picnic on Lakeba (Photo by J. Franklin).

Check out the post (below/ October) on my Summer 2007 Fiji Study Abroad Course offered through the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This class is open to students all over the US regardless of major.