Or more specifically, what does Daisy Wowor say about them? The name Wowor will be familiar to you because it was given to a small colourful fish: Oryzias woworae. Daisy Wowor significantly contributed to the discovery of this endemic ricefish, but her own research focuses on Indonesian crustaceans. Sulawesi Keepers interviewed Daisy Wowor to get a deeper insight into this topic.

Oryzias woworae.
© Hans-Georg Evers

Daisy, you are a researcher and curator of the crustacean collection at the Zoological Museum in Bogor, Java, Indonesia. To begin with, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? What was your first encounter and experience with crustaceans? How long have you been in the curatorial position?

My name and title: Dr. Ir. Daisy Wowor, MSc. (you can omit my titles and just call me as Daisy Wowor). I did undergraduate program in Aquaculture – Fishery, Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia; Master of Science in Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland in USA; and Doctor of Philosophy in Biology, National University of Singapore in Singapore. After graduated from Bogor Agricultural University in the end of 1980, I have been working for the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, Indonesian Institute of Sciences since then. During my work, I got two times scholarships from the Indonesian government to take my Master and PhD degrees. I did research on crustacean culture for my undergraduate project, and since then all of my research projects are mainly on biosystematics and ecology of crustacean. Besides doing research, I have been in charge as crustacean curator for 21 years.

Dr. Daisy Wowor.

Which group of crustaceans is your favourite?

Freshwater decapod crustaceans of Indonesia, especially Palaemonid, Atyid, Potamid and Sesarmid.

There are more than 17,000 islands and islets in Indonesia which cover three global biodiversity hotspots. Simply, the diversity of crustaceans in this largest island country in the world is awesome. Can you estimate what percentage of the entire crustacean group we know?

It is a difficult question to be answered since the crustacean data of Indonesia are scattered in many literatures. My estimation, about 10% of crustaceans is known from the total of crustaceans present in Indonesia. We are still finding new crustacean species, especially those from coastal and marine areas.

Can you briefly specify the relationship of Indonesians to aquatic biota in general and crustaceans in particular? Has this relationship changed over time?

In general, most of Indonesians will relate aquatic biota as food source, same what the people think about crustaceans. In fact, people pay attention more to fish rather than crustaceans. With new findings, people start to recognize that some crustaceans have other potency, such as aquarium trade items and source for medical industry.

Lake Poso, Sulawesi. You can find many endemic species here and in other ancient lakes of Sulawesi. Small town and villages are present along the coast of the lakes. Household waste goes to the lakes and people do also culture fish in floating cages (it can be seen in this photo). Usually people culture introduce species which are harmful for the native species.

Are the locals interested in crustaceans (except for scientists, farmers and aquarium owners)?

There are fishermen (not aquaculturists) who specialize in catching shrimps, lobsters and crabs. However, most of the people do not really pay attention to crustaceans.

What are the main environmental risks for crustaceans in Indonesia?

Land conversion, pollution, alien species, using poison(s) to catch fish which also affect the crustaceans, and overcatching especially for the commercial species.

Do you have any personal experience with shrimps and other freshwater species of Sulawesi?

Yes, I have conducted some research with freshwater shrimps and crabs in limited time and localities in Sulawesi.

Daisy Wowor during her last visit to Sulawesi – at Lake Poso in 2017.

Since the Bogor Zoology Museum is the main Indonesian authority for type material deposition, how many Sulawesi shrimps and crabs are included in the collection?

There are 57 decapod species type material of Sulawesi and its satellite islands collections in MZB (Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense – this is the correct name of my institution).

Several species of Sulawesi shrimps were discovered for ornamental trade recently. Subsequently, their numbers in the wild have declined rapidly. Is this trend reflected also in the frequency and quantity of new samples delivered to the museum?

People say that there is declining trend in ornamental shrimp populations. However, this was based on a quick glance and there has been no research on the populations up to the present. Therefore, we don’t know the real status of the shrimp populations. There is no connection between the declining Sulawesi shrimp populations and the frequency and quantity of new samples delivered to the museum. MZB only receives studied specimens and does not monitor the populations.

Lake Towuti, Sulawesi. You can see the boats for transport and for catching fish and ornamental crustaceans. 

Based on your personal experience and knowledge, can you try to predict the future of endangered Sulawesi crustaceans in general and shrimps in particular?

I visited only few localities in limited time, so my limited experiences cannot be used to reflect the general situation in Sulawesi. So I cannot give the prediction. However, if people don't take care the quality of the environment and keep overharvesting the crustaceans, one day all the crustaceans and other aquatic animals will perish.

Jiří Patoka