Bournemouth University students will be joined by Malagasy scientists and members of the Bournemouth Natural Science Society (BNSS) for a research project led by Dr Anita Diaz from BU that will examine the effect of invasive species on wildlife and whether newly planted forests are surviving and attracting forest wildlife.
The team have also been granted a permit to work with National Park guides to bring some species of spiders and insects back for further identification in the UK, documenting these in an ongoing inventory. Previous expeditions have unearthed several new discoveries, including a new species of frog and more than 20 new species of moth. The team will then explore along the east coast of the island, camping as they head towards the Masoala National Park.
BU students will examine whether newly planted forests are surviving and attracting forest wildlife, on an island where deforestation has occurred across 80 per cent of the island since the 1950’s. Among their endeavours to document new species, the team will aim to encounter many of Madagascar’s unique wildlife, including lemurs, chameleons and giant millipedes, some of which can grow to lengths of around 30cm, and intend to create a moth identification guide which could be used by researchers and visitors to the Island.
BNSS Expedition Leader, Ashley Leftwich, said: “The team’s work will also be highlighted at an exhibition at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society Museum in Bournemouth, in early 2017. The museum houses large entomology and zoological collections which visitors can view and study upon request or at the museum’s dedicated Open Weekends.”
BU Lecturer, and Associate Professor in Ecology, Dr Anita Diaz, who will be leading the research project, said: “"This work enables us to better understand what factors most affect the wildlife conservation value of surviving and restored forests so we can inform conservation management decisions taken by our Malagasy collaborators. It is also a fabulous way for BU students to learn through direct experience about the complex ecological and sociological world that wildlife conservation in practice in one of the most precious and threatened forests on earth.
“Students will work as a Student Environment Research Team (SERT) to lead aspects of the data collection, analysis and presentation in scientific reports and to a range of different audiences. As part of this communication of our science we hope to hold a BU Festival of Learning event where people of different ages can learn about all our findings from Madagascar using interactive tools ranging from painting, jigsaw puzzles, quizzes and on-line citizen science examination of our camera trap footage.”
Any businesses that would like to help sponsor the team should e-mail Expedition Leader, Ashley Leftwich, at [email protected].