A Jungle Study

By Sharon de Loryn

In November last year I was fortunate enough to head to Borneo, Malaysia to complete one the subject Studies in the Equatorial Tropics for my Zoology/Ecology degree with James Cook University. Under the supervision of world class JCU researchers such as Conrad Hoskin, Tasmin Rymer and Susan Laurance we headed into the depths of the Borneo jungle to put three years of project design and theory into practice. My project is on Microbats, incredibly important little insect terminators. I answered the question “Does artificial light affect the species composition of Microbats at Danum Valley?“

Sharon on her birthday in Borneo

Sharon on her birthday in Borneo

Microbats use echolocation, a sophisticated technique that uses echo’s and soundwaves to determine the location, size, distance and speed to locate their prey, which apart from the high-flying forest bats is inaudible to humans. We used a device called an Anabat which detected the bat calls for us. From this device we were able to hear and see the shape of the bat echolocation activity. We analysed over 3500 files from which we classified 7 morphospecies based on the shape and frequency of their calls. We then counted the calls from each morphospecies at each of our sites. After some in-depth statistical analysis, we concluded that Artificial light does not affect the species composition of Microbats at Danum Valley.

Malay Civet - Viverra tangalunga

Malay Civet – Viverra tangalunga

Did you know one particular Genus of Microbats, Motes eats one third of its body weight in insects every night? Now that’s a lot of mosquitos! We were very grateful for this as you can imagine, Borneo in Monsoon season is a heaven for insects and mosquitos, so these little guys were doing us a huge favour by eating approximately 1200 insects per Microbat per hour keeping us safe from mosquito borne disease.

We saw so many animals during our surveys, it was common to walk down a track and encounter Samba Deer, Malay Civets, Slow Loris, Long tailed Macaques…the list goes on. Click here to read my paper on Wallace’s Line if you would like some further reading.

I’m now so close to completing my degree, 4 months to go! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank AVCAT and DVA for supporting me throughout my degree. I could not have completed it without the assistance I have received. I’m so appreciative! I can’t wait to start working in my field and contribute to conserving our amazing wildlife.Sharon was awarded a Long Tan Bursary in 2017. She will complete her degree in 2019.

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