For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

S.A. (Serge) Wich

Special Chair Conservation of the Great Apes
Faculty of Science
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics
Photographer: Jeroen Oerlemans

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
  • Room number:
Postal address
  • Postbus 94240
    1090 GE Amsterdam
  • Biography and Research Interests

    I started my biology study at the University of Amsterdam, but moved to Utrecht University for my MSc on Sumatran orangutan feeding ecology, which I finished in 1995. After a brief study of bonobos in DRC, I returned to Sumatra to do a PhD on Thomas langur male long-distance calls, which I completed in 2002. A subsequent post-doc position at Utrecht University brought me to the island of Borneo where he continued to study orangutans. In 2005 I joined Great Ape Trust of Iowa where I worked as a scientist until 2009 when he joined the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program and the University of Zurich. In 2012 I joined Liverpool John Moores University (Liverpool, UK). In 2014 I joined the UvA as a honorary professor for the conservation of the great apes.

    My research interests are focused on primate behavioral ecology, tropical rain forest ecology and conservation of primates and their habitats. Research is strongly focused on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, but also on the island of Borneo. As part of my position at the UvA I am going to focus on fundamental and applied research on African apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas) and Asian apes (orang-utans). At present the key species I study with my collaborators are the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan. Another field of study that I focus on is primate communication and especially what the meaning and function of calls is, whether they are learned and what the geographic variation of calls is. This has the ultimate aim of informing theories on how human speech evolved. In addition, I am collaborating (with Prof. Lian Pin Koh) to develop and use unmanned aerial vehicles (Conservation Drones) for conservation and ecological research. This project has drones flying at several locations around the world (Africa, Asia, and Europe).

  • Opportuntities for students

    Students with an interest in studying primates are welcome to contact me for potential MSc projects. Projects can range from desktop studies on existing datasets to fieldwork in Southeast Asia or Africa. There are also opportunities to study great apes in some of the zoos in the Netherlands. For projects abroad see:

  • Publications


    • Meijaard, E., Sherman, J., Ancrenaz, M., Wich, S. A., Santika, T., & Voigt, M. (2018). Orangutan populations are certainly not increasing in the wild. Current Biology, 28(21), R1241-R1242. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.052 [details]
    • Strona, G., Stringer, S. D., Vieilledent, G., Szantoi, Z., Garcia-Ulloa, J., & Wich, S. A. (2018). Small room for compromise between oil palm cultivation and primate conservation in Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(35), 8811-8816. [details]
    • Buchanan, G. M., Beresford, A. E., Hebblewhite, M., Escobedo, F. J., De Klerk, H. M., Donald, P. F., ... Wich, S. (2018). Free satellite data key to conservation. Science, 361(6398), 139-140.
    • Ancrenaz, M., Barton, C., Riger, P., & Wich, S. (2018). Building relationships: how zoos and other partners can contribute to the conservation of wild orangutans Pongo spp. International Zoo Yearbook, 52(1), 164-172. DOI: 10.1111/izy.12184 [details]
    • Spehar, S. N., Sheil, D., Harrison, T., Louys, J., Ancrenaz, M., Marshall, A. J., ... Meijaard, E. (2018). Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene. Science Advances, 4(6), [e1701422]. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701422 [details]
    • Voigt, M., Wich, S. A., Ancrenaz, M., Meijaard, E., Abram, N., Banes, G. L., ... Kühl, H. S. (2018). Global Demand for Natural Resources Eliminated More Than 100,000 Bornean Orangutans. Current Biology, 28(5), 761-769. [e5]. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.053 [details]
    • Slik, J. W. F., Franklin, J., Arroyo-Rodríguez, V., Field, R., Aguilar, S., Aguirre, N., ... Zang, R. (2018). Phylogenetic classification of the world's tropical forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(8), 1837-1842.
    • Wich, S. A., Koh, L. P., & Szantoi, Z. (2018). Classifying land cover on very high resolution drone-acquired orthomosaics. In New Geospatial Approaches to the Anthropological Sciences (pp. 121-135). The University of New Mexico Press.
    • Burke, C., Rashman, M. F., McAree, O., Hambrecht, L., Longmore, S. N., Piel, A. K., & Wich, S. A. (2018). Addressing environmental and atmospheric challenges for capturing high-precision thermal infrared data in the field of astro-ecology. Proceedings of SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering, 10709, [107091O]. DOI: 10.1117/12.2311673 [details]



    • Marvin, D. C., Koh, L. P., Lynam, A. J., Wich, S., Davies, A. B., Krishnamurthy, R., ... Asner, G. P. (2016). Integrating technologies for scalable ecology and conservation. Global Ecology and Conservation, 7, 262-275. DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2016.07.002 [details]
    • Wich, S. A., Singleton, I., Nowak, M. G., Utami Atmoko, S. S., Nisam, G., Arif, S. M., ... Kühl, H. S. (2016). Land-cover changes predict steep declines for the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Sciences advances, 2(3), [e1500789]. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500789 [details]


    • Van Andel, A. C., Wich, S. A., Boesch, C., Koh, L. P., Robbins, M. M., Kelly, J., & Kuehl, H. S. (2015). Locating chimpanzee nests and identifying fruiting trees with an unmanned aerial vehicle. American Journal of Primatology, 77(10), 1122-1134. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22446 [details]
    • de Boer, B., Wich, S. A., Hardus, M. E., & Lameira, A. R. (2015). Acoustic models of orangutan hand-assisted alarm calls. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(6), 907-914. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.110577 [details]
    • Hardus, M. E., Lameira, A. R., Wich, S. A., de Vries, H., Wahyudi, R., Shumaker, R. W., & Menken, S. B. J. (2015). Effect of repeated exposures and sociality on novel food acceptance and consumption by orangutans. Primates, 56(1), 21-27. DOI: 10.1007/s10329-014-0441-3 [details]
    • van Gemert, J. C., Verschoor, C. R., Mettes, P., Epema, K., Koh, L. P., & Wich, S. (2015). Nature Conservation Drones for Automatic Localization and Counting of Animals. In L. Agapito, M. M. Bronstein, & C. Rother (Eds.), Computer Vision - ECCV 2014 Workshops: Zurich, Switzerland, September 6-7 and 12, 2014: proceedings (Vol. 1, pp. 255-270). (Lecture Notes in Computer Science ; Vol. 8925). Cham: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16178-5_17 [details]
    • Lameira, A. R., Hardus, M. E., Bartlett, A. M., Shumaker, R. W., Wich, S. A., & Menken, S. B. J. (2015). Speech-like rhythm in a voiced and voiceless orangutan call. PLoS ONE. [details]


    • Hardus, M. E., de Vries, H., Dellatore, D. F., Lameira, A. R., Menken, S. B. J., & Wich, S. A. (2013). Socioecological correlates of inter-individual variation in orangutan diets at Ketambe, Sumatra. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67(3), 429-437. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1463-8 [details]
    • Lameira, A. R., de Vries, H., Hardus, M. E., Hall, C. P. A., Mitra-Setia, T., Spruijt, B. M., ... Wich, S. A. (2013). Predator guild does not influence orangutan alarm call rates and combinations. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67(3), 519-528. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1471-8 [details]
    • Lameira, A. R., Hardus, M. E., Nouwen, K. J. J. M., Topelberg, E., Delgado, R. A., Spruijt, B. M., ... Wich, S. A. (2013). Population-Specific Use of the Same Tool-Assisted Alarm Call between Two Wild Orangutan Populations (Pongopygmaeus wurmbii) Indicates Functional Arbitrariness. PLoS ONE, 8(7), [e69749]. [details]


    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • Liverpool John Moores University
      Professor in Primate Biology