Prof. Emeritus Warren Y. Brockelman

Prof. Emeritus Warren Y. Brockelman, Ph.D.

Ph.D. (Zoology), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, U.S.A., 1968
Research Interests : Conservation Genetics and Ecology

Research Projects

Ecology of the Mo Singto Forest Dynamics Plot, Khao Yai National Park

The Mo Singto (MS) plot is a 30-hectare area of forest that was established around 2001 as a forest research site, in collaboration with the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The purpose of the plot (and many others like it over the world) is to study tree community diversity and dynamics, long term change, and the effects of anthropogenic climate change on forest ecosystems. The CTFS has established a protocol for plot establishment and analysis: all trees ≥1 cm in diameter (dbh) are measured, identified, mapped, and stored in a database with a standardized Access (MS) format. A complete census is carried out every 5 years. The MS plot has about 130,000 woody trees and shrubs of about 264 species, and all these have been collected and identified. This work has been supported primarily by BIOTEC, and the Cluster Program Management Office of NSTDA. The plot has been used for research on tree dynamics, seed dispersal, gibbon diet, foraging and social behavior, bird ecology, etc. Two projects funded by NSTDA, one just ended and the other starting this year, are supporting current research:

“Study of forest dynamics on the Mo Singto Plot: Effects of phenology, gibbons’ diet, seed dispersal and climate change”

“Forest dynamics of the Mo Singto Plot: Climate and biological drivers of change”

Main collaborators in Mo Singto projects: Anuttara Nathalang (BIOTEC), Dr. Chanpen Saralamba (Mahidol U., Sai Yok Campus), Dr. Wirong Chanthorn (Kasetsart Univ.), Dr. Kim McConkey) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), Dr. Udomlux Suwannavecho (BIOTEC collaborating researcher)

Evolution of social behavior in gibbons (Hylobates lar)

Since I have been working in Khao Yai Park I and several colleagues have developed a strong interest in gibbon social behavior and its evolution, and have published several papers on group composition, size, formation, birth rates, and mate competition. This work continues and we are still following the history and changes in several study groups around the Mo Singto Plot. Our gibbon study site in Khao Yai Park has become the longest-running and most active gibbon field research site in Asia. This work is funded largely by the Mo Singto plot projects.

Collaborators: Peng-Fei Fan (Dali Univ., Yunnan, China), Thad Q. Bartlett (Univ. Texas at San Antonio), Tommaso Savini (King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi), Chanpen Saralamba (Mahidol Univ., Sai Yok campus

Ecological and evolutionary relations between the gibbons Hylobates lar and H. pileatus in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

A few km south of the Mo Singto Plot lies one of the most important and fascinating primate research sites in Asia: an area where the geographic ranges of two species of gibbons meet and overlap slightly. There is some hybridization between the species in the overlap zone. This zone is of great importance in increasing our understanding of the genetic, behavioral, and ecological similarities and relations between these well-marked and very distinct species. An account of past research and personal anecdotes by the PI published in the Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society is included with this proposal, because it gives a brief history of research on gibbons in the park, and has a near-complete bibliography of research on gibbons carried out in Khao Yai Park. Research on the relations between the species is continuing, and has recently been funded by several grants from Mahidol University. The current grant from the university is:

“Landscape ecology and spatial distribution of white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar), pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus) and their hybrids in a contact zone”

Collaborators: Norberto Asensio (Mahidol Univ. Faculty of Environment), Chalita Kongrit (Mahidol Univ. Dept. of Biology), Tomasso Savini (King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi), Chanpen Saralamba (Mahidol Univ., Sai Yok), Juan Manuel José Dominguez (Univ. of Granada, Spain, and King Mongkut’s University)

Survey and census of endangered gibbon species in Southeast Asia

The applicant has been involved with survey and census of gibbon species since the 1980s, and has published several papers on the methodology of censusing gibbons by auditory means, by listening for their duetted songs from fixed sample points, and triangulating on their locations. This has become a standard method for gibbon survey, but it is being improved and refined. Additional surveys have been, or are being carried out in the following areas:

Survey of siamang and agile gibbons in Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, Narawathiwat Province, South Thailand (funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Wildlife Conservation Society – Thailand. Collaborators: Anak Pattanavibool (WCS–Thailand), Sutthirak Nongkaew (Prince of Songkla Univ.), Sara Bumrungsri (PSU Univ.), Siriporn Thong-Ari (Dept. of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation), Tommaso Savini (KMUTT)
Survey of hoolock gibbons in northern Myannmar, Kachin State, in the contact zone between the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) and eastern hoolock (Hoolock leuconedys). Fecal specimens will be collected for non-invasive genotyping. Collaborators: U Saw Htun, Naing Lin (WCS – Myanmar), Chalita Kongrit (Mahidol Univ.)
Survey of gibbons (Hylobates lar) in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, western Thailand. Collaborators: Anak Pattanavibool (WCS–Thailand), Chanpen Saralamba (Mahidol Univ., Sai Yok). This project is funded by a grant to WCS – Thailand, from the USFWS.