"We strive to understand, conserve, and protect primates and their behavioural diversity in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem in Western Tanzania"
The GMERC is a research team focused on the behaviour, ecology, and conservation of the wildlife and especially primates that live across the Greater Mahale Ecosystem. Formerly known as the Ugalla Primate Project, in 2017 our group incorporated in Tanzania as GMERC, LTD.
To help answer questions about Issa chimpanzees, sympatric wildlife, and the threats facing western Tanzania forests, we collaborate closely with researchers across the world, local and national government institutions, as well as non-governmental conservation organisations working in western Tanzania.
The Issa Valley is characterised by extreme seasonal variation. Specifically, in the dry season, grass fires sweep the landscape, burning undergrowth across 75% of the region, the miombo trees lose their leaves, and most rivers dry. In the wet season, grasses can reach 8ft and those same rivers can be uncrossable.
Where We Work
Western Tanzania comprises one of the driest, most open and seasonal habitats where chimpanzees live: a mosaic landscape dominated by miombo woodland and interspersed with thin strips of gallery forest, swamps, and wooded grasslands.
Our long-term research site is based within this western region, in the Issa Valley. Other study populations of chimpanzees in the region include those in Gombe and also Mahale Mountains National Park, both along Lake Tanganyika. Since 2011, we also monitor chimpanzee sub-populations and their habitat in numerous other areas within the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME), hence the name for our project, reflecting this larger geographical area that we monitor.