Current Projects

A selection of longterm projects that involve recurring expeditions, ongoing conservation work, and photojournalism



Working toward the conservation of pristine and unprotected rainforests at the mountainous center of Borneo, Peter has worked on the island since 2009 where his studies have covered topics from butterflies to gibbons. Peter has led numerous expeditions to threatened and poorly studied jungles in order to document biodiversity, work with communities, and influence environmental policy. Along with his colleagues, Peter founded a conservation NGO to address these matters called BRINCC: Barito River Initiative for Nature Conservation & Communities.



First traveling to Madagascar to study orchids, Peter has been leading research expeditions to an isolated and previously unstudied tropical forest. To document this forest's rare and novel biodiversity, Peter has coordinated teams comprised of Malagasy scientists and members of nearby communities to work toward ensuring the future protection of this unique gem amidst a barren landscape in Madagascar. Peter's work on Madagascar has been funded by multiple grants from the National Geographic Society and support from Rainforest Trust.

Photo: Rae Wynn-Grant


Panama: Isla coiba

Isla Coiba, Central America’s largest uninhabited island (~500km2), is a unique place with many endemic and rare species of animals and plants. Until only one decade ago, Coiba was a penal colony for nearly a century. For this reason, it is still covered with lush rainforest that has long gone on the mainland. Coiba is a time capsule with high conservation value, a forested rock in the rich Pacific Ocean that offers a living example of the rich habitats that once prevailed throughout this part of the world.

Along witih National Geographic Photographers Christian Ziegler and Tim Laman, and filmmaker Ken Pelletier, Peter Houlihan has spent the last three years documenting and describing Coiba’s biodiversity and landscapes, raising awareness about Coiba’s unique ecosystems and history, to ensure the long term protection of this unique ecosystem.


florida & cuba

Peter's PhD focuses on the ecology and conservation of rare and endangered orchids. This work has a strong emphasis on the ghost orchids that are found deep in the flooded forests of south Florida and Cuba. Peter frequents these sites often to monitor the species he studies and better understand their natural history.