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The facility

The project is building an infrastructure in a new entomology department at the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden (QSBG) near Chiangmai, based on collections of insects from Doi Inthanon National Park (DINP) and QSBG, accumulation of relevant literature, formation of databases, training of local staff and implementation of research programmes in collaboration with two universities. The project will, therefore, fulfil three of the four areas of the second five-year plan (2003-2007) of the National Policy, Strategies and Action Plan (NPSAP). It will provide the cornerstone for national biodiversity and conservation research on insects by creating a national state-of-the art depository.

UK expertise on taxonomic research methods and collection maintenance and development is being used to develop the facility, train local staff and link collection-based research to current and future entomological research based at universities.

It was decided that setting up general insect collections would require unrealistic funding because of the huge diversity of habitats, the necessity to employ a broad range of UK entomologists and the lack of expertise in Thailand, and would not guarantee a fully functional end product. Consequently, the families Culicidae (mosquitoes) and Simuliidae (blackflies) were selected to initiate the project because of their small size (3,200 and 1780 species world-wide, respectively), the comprehensive taxonomic studies already completed (morphological, enzymatic, cytological and molecular), their use of all freshwater habitats as breeding sites (hence they can serve as monitors of environmental pollution), and ongoing research projects with Thai specialists. In the third year, a general insect collection at QSBG will begin using the infrastructure developed during the first two years.

Work programme

Year 1: Acquisition of equipment, museum storage units, satellite images, and relevant taxonomic literature; training in field collection of Culicidae and Simuliidae in Doi Inthanon National Park; training in insect preservation, curatorial methods and GIS; initiate monthly collecting programme; establish taxonomic database for Thai culicids and simuliids.

Year 2: Complete field collection, preservation, identification and curation of culicid and simuliid specimens; integrate ecological, physiogeographic and specimen information into the database; establish links with specialists on other insect groups which include endangered species.

Year 3: Collection of mainly Diptera, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera from QSBG and links with national and international research teams working on the biodiversity of insects of Thailand.

Collecting mosquito larvae from an urn in DINP
Collecting mosquito larvae from an urn in DINP
State-of-the-art insect cabinets in climate-controlled room at QSBG
State-of-the-art insect cabinets in
climate-controlled room at QSBG