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Borneo biodiversity blog

3 Posts tagged with the sabah tag

Who is in Borneo and why?

Posted by Dan Carpenter Sep 18, 2012

Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, BorneoThere are three different teams of scientists from across the Life Sciences department of the Museum who have travelled to work in Sabah on our current trip to Borneo. The first team is collecting parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera). The second is sampling freshwater invertebrates. The third (known as the Quantitative Inventory - i.e. QI - team), of which I am a member, is sampling soil and leaf litter invertebrates and lichens.


The teams are visiting a number of different areas in Sabah. We will spend the first week in Danum Valley Conservation Area in the east of Sabah. Teams will also visit Maliau Basin Conservation Area, the SAFE project area, the area around Sandakan and the freshwater team will also be visiting ponds and lakes near to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital.


The total length of the trip is 6 weeks, but only the QI team will be in Sabah for the entire period.


This is an extraordinary opportunity to document the diversity of tropical rainforests and tropical freshwaters.  We will almost certainly discover new species and in some cases as much as 50% of or samples will be species new to science.


In later posts I will explain a bit more about what the QI team is doing, the techniques we are using and the sorts of invertebrates we are collecting. So come back soon to find out more.


Dan Carpenter


First days in Borneo

Posted by Dan Carpenter Sep 12, 2012

We made it! It's taken a lot of planning but we finally made it. We have arrived in Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, Malaysia after a 17 hour flight, a couple of days in Kota Kinabalu (KK - see it on Google maps) and another flight and a long bus ride, we made it to Danum Valley. It is good to finally be so close to (and almost in) the forest to get started on our field work.



The team with all of the equipment, 23 bags in all (click images to see them full size)


We brought a lot of equipment with us but we also had to stock up on a few bits in KK, like string, a spade and machetes(!) - all essential tools that we will need to do our field work. We also found time to relax and discuss our plans for the coming weeks.


KKimage1.jpgRelaxing in Kota Kinabalu and discussing the field work we're due to perform


We will be staying at Danum a little less than two weeks, until 24 September. While we are here we have an awful lot of sampling to do and I will be explaining all about the different methods we are using to sample insects as the days go on, but here's a sneak preview of one of them:



Our Winkler bags hanging up outside the labs


The Danum Valley field centre is very nice indeed. The food is excellent, banana fritters being my favourtie so far. There are also lots of other scientists here from all over the world doing field work so there is a real buzz in the dining hall at meal times. There are also lots of people here for the special visitors that arrived here on Saturday, 15 September (more on that in our next blog post)!


bridgeintoforest.jpgThe bridge into the forest

Welcome to Borneo 2012

Posted by Andrew Polaszek Sep 9, 2012

Borneo-rainforest-700x463.jpgOver the course of late September and October many of the Museum's researchers will be in Borneo to study the flora and fauna on the island. The Museum has a history of leading several successful Borneo-based science projects and this time, we will be documenting the effort in this blog.


As the 3rd largest island in the world, Borneo is well-known as a centre of extreme faunistic and floristic diversity, and endemism (i.e. uniqueness to a defined location, such as an island). It is certain that the majority of that diversity and endemism remains to be discovered and documented, in particular the "microfauna", especially in the soils, the forest canopy and freshwater systems. Vast areas of the island are currently being irreversibly altered due mainly to timber extraction and cultivation of oil palm, these two activities often being connected.


A team of 15 biologists from the Museum are traveling to Sabah, Malaysian North Borneo, in September and October this year, to carry out field work in this major biodiversity hotspot. We will be studying and collecting insects, other invertebrates and plant samples using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. The qualitative sampling is designed to complement an ongoing 10-year study of soil biodiversity in the New Forest in England, and the Borneo work will provide valuable comparative data on the distribution and abundance of key organisms in tropical and temperate forest systems. In Sabah we will be sampling in the Danum Valley and Maliau Basin, as well as working with the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project which is examining the effects of deforestation, extraction and palm oil (and other) cultivation on biodiversity.


Taxa collected will be a combination of relatively well-known species that can be identified, and less well-known groups that will require a combined morphology/barcoding/molecular probe approach to characterise. The data resulting will support all Museum quantitative inventory projects, in particular the aforementioned New Forest QI project, enabling direct comparison of landscape level biodiversity between tropical and temperate areas.


This trip is multidisciplinary, involving researchers from across the Museum’s Life Sciences departments and local collaborators, particularly from the University of Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu. We are especially concentrating on public engagement, with the Museum’s Nature Live team involved in several live link-up events, including ones to UK schools in the Museum’s Attenborough Studio. In particular, Dan Carpenter’s team will be accompanied by members of Nature Live in October for broadcasts back to the Museum from the field.


We hope you enjoy following our trip to Borneo and you can also keep in touch with the Nature Live coverage (and read about their previous trips to the Bahamas and Costa Rica) in the Field work with Nature Live blog.


Andy Polaszek and Dan Carpenter