The Biodiversity and Development Institute exists to create opportunities to do fundamental and applied biodiversity and development research, incorporating both science & humanities perspectives
Research themes and questions
- Art & practice of science
Human dimensions of science
Research field methods
How and why do people vary in the ways in which they engage with science, particularly their understanding of the human and natural systems in which they live? How can we improve this engagement?
How and why do communities, populations, and individual organisms vary in space and time in their behaviour, distributions, demography, and physiology?
- Sustainable development
How do we develop robust societies in ways that are inclusive, socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable?
How we operate
The Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI) is a non-profit company designed to foster research and community action in the fields of biodiversity conservation and social development. The Biodiversity and Development Institute is composed of three departments which operate under six independent models that have overlapping missions. The Citizen Science Department seeks to connect people with conservation- and development-related research projects and seeks to help orchestrate that research, disseminate the results, and support community action. The Research Consulting Department seeks to promote rigorous research in conservation and development by providing technical and logistical support to the existing research community. The Research Training Department seeks to train and build the capacity of research professionals across several rungs of the research ladder, including under-graduate students, post-graduate students, field assistants, and early-career scientists.
The Citizen Science Department of the Biodiversity and Development Institute seeks to link citizens who have an existing interest in biodiversity and development research with opportunities where they can volunteer on and contribute to long-term research projects. In the process of training and assisting students, providing immersive opportunities for informal researchers, and collaborating with local communities, the Biodiversity and Development Institute’s mission is to transform all stakeholders into citizen scientists.
As part of this department, the Biodiversity and Development Institute runs bird ringing expeditions in Africa, in which bird ringing enthusiasts can contribute valuable data to long-term ringing projects, whilst having an immersive bird ringing experience with African bird species. These expeditions are led by expert ringers at sites specially-selected in key African habitats. These expeditions combine citizen science with opportunities to explore some of Africa’s iconic bird species and habitats.
The Science Consulting Department assists the broader research community by providing technical and logistical support. Some of these services include statistical and quantitative consulting, manuscript editing, student mentoring and supervision, and field extension services. This Biodiversity and Development Institute department also provides logistical support to local or international researchers seeking to conduct projects in South Africa. This service includes finding suitable field sites, negotiating research access, sourcing field assistants, providing accommodation, transportation, and field equipment, and providing research collaboration through our aforementioned technical support services.
The Research Training Department provides training and continuing education opportunities in the fields of quantitative analysis, citizen science, database management, academic writing and workflow, and ecological field research. This department creates these opportunities in the form of tutoring, workshops, traditional in-class courses, and distributed or online courses. This Biodiversity and Development Institute department also provides fundamental training in conducting field research. This department establishes field sites by drawing on a considerable network of landowners and communities who want research to be done in their areas. This department sources local and international under-graduate students, post-graduate students, volunteers, and interns, to conduct research projects at those sites.