Project properties

Title Frankincense Tree Distribution: Mapping and Modelling
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 39
Supervisor(s) FEM group: Frans Bongers (maybe in combination with specialist in other field, see below)
Examiner(s) Prof.Dr. F.J.J.M (Frans) Bongers
Contact info Frans.Bongers@wur.nl
Begin date 2018/10/01
End date
Description The general problem:
The iconic frankincense is a resin from Boswellia trees (a genus with ca 19 species) that grow in dry areas in the Sahel, Horn of Africa, Southern Arabian peninsula and India. The resin is used as incense, for perfumes, in essential oils and as part of medicines. Most of the Boswellia species are under threat: distributions shrink, population quality is diminishing, and sustainable management and use is still beyond reach. This put severe pressure on the long term availability of the resource and its precious resin.

The project:
This study is part of FRAME, a research program focusing on sustainable use and management of frankincense.

MSc Thesis:
This MSc project uses available location data to determine distributions of all the species, connects these distributions to available climatic, soil, and elevation data, compares these relationships to locally available climate and soil data, and possibly predicts changes in distributions based on projected climate change.
Available data are from herbarium records, and botanical and forestry inventories. Distribution maps and environmental envelopes of these species are highly needed, not in the least to predict possible future changes in their distributions.

Data and Methods:
Much data on Boswellia distributions (locations or herbarium records, inventory points) are available already in the project. You will determine environmental (climate, soil, elevation) envelopes of all species, using available data (eg internet open sources). You will produce maps with actual distributions and most probable distribution ranges. Additionally you may predict changes in distributions based on projected climate change scenarios. You will use GIS and may use distribution modelling techniques such as Maxent.
The work will be done in Wageningen.

Who are you?
You are an MSc student interested in forest ecology, forest use, forest management, and likes using GIS and data bases to help solving problems. Alternatively you are highly skilled in GIS and database use and likes to apply your knowledge to environmental issues.
Depending on your background and personal goals we may look for an additional supervisor (eg GIS specialist, Distribution modeling specialist)

Population and forest dynamics/ Sustainable forest management/tropical zone/Africa/Asia
Used skills Database handling, GIS, modelling, statistical analyses using eg R
Requirements FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I; GIS courses. Alternatives are discussable