30 March 2019: Official inauguration of the Goffin Lab Tanimbar in Indonesia

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A new field research station, the ‘Goffin Lab Tanimbar’, was established in 2017 on Tanimbar Islands, Indonesia, by Dr. Mark O’Hara and Berenika Mioduszewska, M.Res., M.Sc. from Messerli Research Institute of the University for Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmed) in collaboration with Dr. Dewi M. Prawiradilaga and Tri Haryoko of the Center for Biology of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) and with support of Prof. Ludwig Huber and Dr. Alice Auersperg from Messerli Research Institute and funding from the Austrian science Fund (FWF). The Tanimbar Islands are part of the Moluccan province in Indonesia and are located 500km north of Australia, 680km south-west of Papua and 500km east of East Timor. The small archipelago is still largely covered by monsoon forest and local people mainly rely on traditional agriculture and fishing.

The newly established station on Yamdena, the largest of the Tanimbar Islands, is intended to provide a base for scientists investigating the ecology, behavior and cognition of the endemic Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana), to contribute to the conservation of this species, as well as to provide information for birdwatchers. The construction of the station was possible due to personal involvement of Wilhelmus Samangun, a local farmer and entrepreneur, as well as assistance of other members of the Hurlatu clan in Lorulun village. The station consists of basic living quarters, an outreach meeting area and a capture-release aviary. Scientists at Goffin Lab Tanimbar collect data by conducting daily treks into the forest and recording the behavior of free-ranging Goffin’s cockatoos, conducting population counts, as well as by observing temporarily-captive, wild-caught cockatoos in controlled empirical studies.

“From Dr. Alice Auersperg and the studies in the lab based population of Goffin’s in Austria we know that these cockatoos have astonishing problem solving skills. Unfortunately, we didn’t really know much about their ecology and behaviour in their natural habitat. Here, we try to combine observations in the natural environment with controlled experiments in the capture-release aviary. So on the one hand we will be able to say how wild individuals compare to the captive birds in Austria, but additionally we can investigate how their ecology might promote certain cognitive skills.”, says Dr. O’Hara.

A memorable event in the young history of the field station occurred during a recent first visit of Prof. Huber and Dr. Auersperg on 30th of March 2019 when the station’s information board was revealed in a small ceremony including the local team and thus the station was officially inaugurated.

 

Two scientific articles have been so far published in international journals:

O’Hara, M., Mioduszewska, B., Haryoko, T., Prawiradilaga, D. M., Huber, L., & Auersperg, A. (2018). Extraction without tooling around — The first comprehensive description of the foraging- and socio-ecology of wild Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana). Behaviour. https://doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003523 3

Mioduszewska, B., O’Hara, M., Haryoko, T., Auersperg, A. M. I., Huber, L., & Prawiradilaga, D. M. (2018). Notes on ecology of wild Goffin’s cockatoo in the late dry season with emphasis on feeding ecology. Treubia, (45), 83–100.

 

More information about the station, the project and life on Tanimbar can be found on the scientists’ blog website: www.goffinlabtanimbar.org 4

 

  

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