Biodiversity of Borneo 2007: Abstracts

7 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Lambir, CTFS, Forest Dynamic
Lecturer: Stuart Davies
Abstract: Subekti Sulistyawati

Lambir Hills National Park

Lambir derived from Iban language which means comb. The Iban, one of traditional tribe in Malaysia, gives the name to describe the place that is surrounded by head of comb-like hills or mountain ranges. For about 30 minutes south from Miri Town and along the Miri-Bintulu road, there is an outstanding place of its well preserved species rich, Lambir Hills National Park. The park was gazetted in 1975 with an area of 6.952 hectares. The vegetation of the park consists of hyperdiverse mixed dipterocarp forest, “kerangas” on white sands and mixed dipterocarp forest on coastal area which is very endangered forest formation. The soil is in very poor nutrient and heterogeneous types. Based on geological point of view, the park developed on sedimentary rocks which is bands of clay and sandstone deposited by rivers and streams in the mid-Miocene.

‘General’ flowering and ‘mast’ fruiting of natural cycle, often associated with ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) events. Lambir Hills National Park also ‘home’ of 366 species of vertebrates (not including fish); 6 species of mammals (bearded pig, langur, 9 species of squirrels and 5 species of flying squirrels), gibbons and macaques; 237 species of birds (including Bornean Bristlehead), 361 species of ants; distinctive invertebrates of Rajah’s Brooke’ Birding (butterfly) but absent of orang utans, elephants and rhinoceros. As what happen with mostly tropical forest in Southeast Asia, this park also threatened by human impacts extensively on all boundaries such as oil palm plantations, timber extractions, Iban shifting agriculture communities (no longer shifting) and hunting. Besides its natural disturbances such as landslides on friable, erodible rocks and steep slopes; wind squalls (but no cyclones or hurricanes); and ENSO events in short periodical but leave severe droughts.

Center for Tropical Forest Science and Forest Dynamics Plot
Lambir Hills National Parks has been long in study. In 1960s, The Forest Department of Malaysia did early study in describing diversity. Since then up to 1980 lots of new species had described. In 1991, Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS)/Harvard University, the Sarawak Forest Department, and Plant Ecology Laboratory of Osaka University, Japan, Ehime and Kyoto Universities (Japan) set up collaboration in initiating the Lambir Hills Forest Dynamics Plot in Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo). Up to this time, CTFS has set up 52-ha plots with approximately 1.200 species have been found and 359.600 trees tagged. This high species count at the plot is partly due to the plot’s location where it crosses an abrubt change in soil type that results in a more than 60% change of species composition within 50 meters ( The plot located in latitude 4.1865 – 114.0171 and altitude 104 – 244 m above sea level .

Figure 1. Lambir surrounded by head-comb like hills or mountain ranges. <bekti_fig1.jpg>

Figure 2. Topographical map of CTFS-Forest Dynamics Plots in Lambir Hills, Sarawak. (Source : <bekti_fig2.gif>

Date: 23 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Biodiversity of Borneo Overview
Lecturer: Cam Webb
Abstract: Charlie Ryland
One of the most fascinating and frequently asked questions in biology today is why are the tropics so diverse? In order to answer such a monumental question we must look at data gathered from a wide range of scientific fields. For example, from geological records we have learned that early conifers date as far back as 325 million years ago. In fact, some of the plants we see today are nearly identical to fossils from as far back as 80 million years ago. These plants predate many major plate movements, providing a vehicle for plants to move from all ends of the earth towards the equator.

Other key factors in tropical diversity include time and temperature. A tropical zone is by definition one that is warm and has remained near to the equator for some period of time. This does two things to augment diversity. First, it provides for a more agreeable climate for organisms to live in than the harsher, cold weather climates of the poles. Second, relative stability provided by a lack of catastrophes like freezing give ample time for species to adapt and thrive. Due to these two factors, it is true that the tropical forest habitat is one of the oldest habitats found on the earth today, giving early plant relatives plenty of time to diverge.

The island of Borneo provides a textbook example of the benefits of these circumstances, as it has been near the equator for some eighty million years. In addition, relatively recent tectonic movements have brought increasing diversity from other landmasses to the island. Finally, gaps between Borneo and the mainland have been frequently filled in the past as the shallow South China Sea recedes. It is thought that as early as eleven to thirteen million years ago dry land may have connected Borneo to the mainland over what is now the South China Sea.

All of these circumstances combined are thought to have given rise to much of the diversity found in Borneo today.

Date: 24 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Conservation of Sabah 30 Years Conservation Work
Lecturer: Junaidi Payne
Abstract: Eka

Total land in Sabah is 73.6002 km. It has a half lowlands and swaps forest, and a half hills and mountains. Sabah has permanent forest that agreed in 1984 and the main reason they did this because to keep soil suitability and Dipterocarp Forest commonest habitat. So, for that reason Sabah Government make a classification for Forest Reserve and others land. The seven class for forest reserve are Protection Forest Reserve, Commercial Forest Reserve, Domestic Forest Reserve, Amenity Forest Reserve, Mangrove Forest Reserve, Virgin Jungle Reserve, Wildlife Reserve. And the others land they used as Park, Wildlife Conservation area, Wildlife Sanctuary, Private land and State land.

Now, not much Dipterocarp Forest left because influence of El Nino drought and forest burned , forest converted to plantation., and oil palm conversion.

The challenges current conservation are information overload, nonsense information, conservation fashion, means becoming ends, hardly any taxonomic field biologist, use the press carefully sparingly, someone else will do it. And the other challenges are not to stop logging and plantation, but how to inform this issues to people.

And the conservation open opportunities for people who interested on taxonomic field biologist, forest restoration and work that correlated with business.

Place: Lambir
Lecture: Diversification and mutualisms within Macaranga
Lecturer: Stuart Davies
Abstract: Ian R. McFadden

Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) is a genus of pioneer plants found in tree-fall gaps and secondary forest in West Africa, Madagascar, the Fiji Islands and Australia. Some members of the genus have developed swollen stems to house symbiotic ant mutualists in the genus Crematogaster. These ants build their colonies within the stems and patrol the leaf surface to ward off herbivores and other plants. Their actions serve to protect the food source of their colony; lipid-rich bodies produced by the plant. Of the 260 species of Macaranga , only those occurring in Sundaland form swollen stem associations. Macaranga and the myrmecophyte clade (ant associated plants) are both monophyletic, which raises the question as to whether co-speciation occurred and if so where and when it happened. Cladistic analysis shows that myrmecophism evolved more than once and up to four times. Using phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis it can be concluded that the mutualism evolved in Borneo and spread to peninsular Malaysia.

The topics were covered in sufficient breadth and in an order that allowed an uninformed audience to grasp. The talk built well from basic taxonomy distribution and biology, through ecology, evolution and finally to large scale radiation and speciation patterns. By starting small and moving up in complexity Stuart gave good foundational informational for the next topic.

Date: 25 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Entomology
Lecturer: David Lohman
Abstract: Jesse Hiestand

Dr David Lohman opened his lecture on Entomology with the questions; what is an insect, why do we study them and how? He began by explaining that insects are the most diverse organisms on the planet, typified by a body form consisting of a head, thorax and abdomen. Their life cycles may be hemimetabulous or holometabulous, that may additionally include periods of molting since their chitin exoskeletons cannot expand. He then gave a brief introduction to the orders; Diptera (flies & mosquitoes), Hymenoptera (wasps, bees & ants), Hemiptera (Includes Homoptera, sap-sucking insects), Coleoptera (beetles), and Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths). Afterward, he mentioned that studying insects provided a replicated study of evolutionary trends, their reproductive capacity allows for multiple experiment replications and added humorously, that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals don’t care. He then explained why we might study them, due to their varied lifestyles, the fact that they’ve colonized everywhere but the sea, and developments such as aposematism, camouflage and mimicry. Insects’ role in the ecosystem as pollinators, soil turners, food sources and decomposers was also added. He built further interest in Entomology by providing a few examples of “Extreme Insect Life Histories” including, mantispidae, carnivorous caterpillars, eusocial insects, and slave-making ants. Finally, he provided methods of sampling, from aerial nets to pitfall traps.

Overall, Dr Lohman’s lecture was very well organized, from his introduction with a set of defined goals to his inclusion of several anecdotes to maintain student interest. Each section moving towards these goals had a clear heading and bullet points; none of which were left out. His enthusiasm for the field was very evident, which kept the energy level high and maintained student interest.

Date: 25 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lab: Insect Lab
Instructors: Naomi Pierce and Dave Lohman
Abstract: Kore Tau

Insects make up more than half of the living organisms on the earth and is the most diverse group. An insect is defined as an organism that has a head, thorax, and abdomen and usually has 3 pairs of legs and 2 pairs of wings. Another characteristic of the insect is their ability to molt because their chitin exoskeleton cannot expand.

The 5 main orders of insects are diptera, hymnoptera, hemiptera, coleoptera and lepidoptera.

Insects are able to use camouflage, mimic their predators and use warning coloration to warn off predators. Compared to the temperate regions, the species diversity of insects being found in the tropics is still increasing and has not reached an asymptote yet. Insects function in the ecosystem as pollinators, soil turners, and are part of the food web.

People study insects because diversity enables replicated study of evolutionary trends. The capacity for replication means that ecological experiments can be replicated.

Different techniques are used to collect insects for the purposes of studying them. Sweep netting, malaise traps, bait traps, pit traps are few of the many techniques. Insects are first collected, pinned and sorted into Orders and later keyed down to species. The insects are then stored in temperature controlled rooms to protect against cockroaches, humidity and disintegration.

Insect collecting and analysis:

For the insect collecting, a malaise trap, two bait traps, an aspirator and sweeping nets were used to collect insects. The insects were then put in killing jars (jars with ethyl acetate) to kill them. These were brought to the office and pinned. The pins for insects come in different sized ranges for different sized insects. For very small insects a Point is used to pin them. A Point is a small triangular piece of paper. All insects are pinned in the thorax, slightly to the right. For the lepidoptera (butterflies), the wings are spread on the pinning board before transferring to the insect box. The pointed side of the Point is bended at 45 degrees and the insect glued on it’s left side while the pin is pushed through the larger side. All insects are then labeled, using two labels. One is used for the location, habitat type, latitude and longitude, collector’s name and date of collection and this goes under the insect. The other label has the identification of the insect and this label goes under the first label. It is arranged in this way to allow for the second label to be taken off easily when the insects are being studied (and/or renamed). For the insect exercise all insects were then arranged into their respective Orders and five insects were keyed down to the species level, using a Dichotomous Key.

The insect collecting, sorting and pinning, and analysis was methodological and easy to follow.

Instructions for sorting and pinning insects, especially the butterflies was very interesting to learn. I think this insect session was very hands-on and gives a feel of what people studying insects do every time. The collecting of insects could easily be turned into a hobby, especially the butterfly collecting. All the things I thought of or read about that should have been in the collecting and analysis were covered and I liked the idea of assigning students who already knew about insects, to different groups and that was very helpful.

Place: Lambir
Lecture: Global Change Biology I: Terestrial Ecosystem and Climate Change
Lecturer: Paul Moorcroft
Abstract: Marcel

Each year fossil fuel and biomass burning produced 6-7 billions tons of carbon, which release go into the atmosphere, by 2100 CO2 is expected to be between 800-1000 ppm each year. Because CO2 absorb heat, less radiation is lost from earth. CO2 absorb leaving radiation not incoming because the wavelength is different, CO2 only absorb radiation in the outgoing wavelength. H2O can absorb and block both kind of solar radiation, so anything that happens to hydrological cycle affect to global temperature change. This is the source of a lot uncertainty, how will H2O impact to global temperature? Biogeographic can be used as models to predict the effect of climate change on terrestrial ecosystem. But the limitation is it assumes ecosystem are in equilibrium at the climate and the human noise, transformation of ecosystem feedback between vegetation and climate. Vegetations changes in regions have a strong Amazon rain forest can be dramatically convert the rain forest into more drier area. Because so much of its water comes from transpiration. Feedback in South East Asia would not be as strong as in Amazon rain forest because mostly precipitation in South East Asia comes from Surrounding oceans.

Date: 27 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Herps
Lecturer: Indraniel Das
Abstract: Megan Bartlett

Amphibian and reptile diversity is high in Borneo, with a number of endemic species existent in nearly every family present in Borneo. Amphibians, containing 6,091 species, include the families Rhocophoridae (tree frogs), Ichihyophiidae (cicilians), Bufonidae (toads), Ranidae, Megrophyidae, and Microphyidae. Reptiles, comprising 8,463 species, are divided into lizards (including Gekkonidae– the geckos, Scincidae– the skinks, Varanidae– the monitor lizards, and Agamidae– the flying lizards), snakes (including Boridae– the pythons, Crotalidae– the pit vipers, Hydrophiidae– the sea snakes, and Typhlopidae– the blind snakes), turtles (such as Deermochelydae– the sea turtles), and crocodiles (Crocodylidae). These groups occupy a wide range of larval feeding and habitat diversity, which often places the larval stage in a different ecological niche than the adult, making conservation for these groups a challenge. The adult stage of these groups can vary widely in reproductive mode, diet, and voice, allowing niche differentiation to occur in their choice of reproduction locations, degree of parental investment, prey of choice, type of vocal call, and reproductive mode (whether laying eggs, live birth, or parthenogenesis.) This lecture provided a broad survey of amphibian and reptile diversity in Borneo, but only in terms of basic ecology. I think that a biogeography approach to reptile and amphibian diversity, focusing on their evolution and dispersal in Borneo and across Wallace’s Line, would also be an interesting addition to understanding their biodiversity.

Date: 28 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Cultural Diversity in Borneo
Lecturer: Jayl Langub
Abstract: Olivia Tandon

Jayl Langub lectured on the history and cultural diversity of the Sarawak, one of the four states of Borneo (Kalimantan in the South and Sarawak and Sabah to the North, with Brunei squished between these two). Sarawak was a British colony from World War II until 1963, when it became part of Malaysia. Sarawak is extremely culturally diverse, with the largest group, the Iban, making up only 29.5% of the population. They live in longhouses along major rivers, using primarily the shifting agricultural method of farming, and are mostly Christian. Other large cultural groups include the Chinese, Malay, Melanau, Indian, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. The Malay and Melanau are coastal people, traditionally farming or fishing. Both are predominantly Muslim populations, although 25% of the Melanau are Christian. The Malay are famous for their textiles and metal working, and make up a majority of the civil service in urban areas. The Indian population of Borneo came in four waves to fill certain positions in society: first, coffee plantation workers; second, police force; third, as teachers; and fourth came with the Malaysian armed forces when Sarawak became part of Malaysia. The Chinese came as explorers and traders, and are responsible for major economic development in Sarawak. The Bidayuh are similar to the Malay in using a shifting agricultural farming system. The Orang Ulu are the group that has the most stratified society, the others being primarily egalitarian. The Orang Ulu culture honors the hornbill and use hornbill feathers for traditional costumes and dances. Recently, there have been problems because they are now a protected species and it is even forbidden to pick up fallen feathers. They are now using substitute feathers which have been painted black and white to resemble the true feathers. Much of the pristine forest in Sarawak belongs to different cultural groups to maintain their traditional lifestyles, but some of it has been contracted out for development, which could lead to important forest areas being destroyed.

Although it covered a very large range of material, I thought this lecture was instrumental in giving an understanding of the magnitude of the cultural diversity that exists within Sarawak. It gave a good background general history of the region, and then went into details on each culture. Overall, I thought it was a good introduction to Sarawak’s cultures.

Date: 30 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: Global Change Biology II
Lecturer: Paul Moorcroft
Abstract: Ross McFarland

Prof. Moorcroft’s second lecture addressed the topic of using biogeographic models to predict the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. To begin, he reviewed the Whittaker model which is a simple plot of average temp in a region plotted against average annual precipitation. It is a predictive chart that can be used to show how the ecosystem composition changes as the temperature increases. Moorcroft addressed the limitations of this type of predictive model by explaining the principle of Biosphere-Atmosphere feedbacks which are ignored by the early simple models like the Whittaker. As an example of biofeedbacks, he explained the consequences of complete deforestation of the Amazon Basin. According to the literature from Shukla, a simulation of deforestation in that environment would cause a 2.5C rise in temperature and an average of 800mm less rain each year. The prediction included an analysis of the feedback mechanisms that would result from the loss of rain forest. Without the high rains and moderated temperatures of the forest environment, the predicted result was that a total reforestation of the Amazon Basin could not occur because the Hadley Cell cycles that create the rain forest weather would be stripped of their moisture.
As a extension of the idea of ecosystems feeding back into the larger climate cycles, Moorcroft discussed the work of Cox et al. in 2000. This analysis showed that for the next few decades, the lands and oceans would both act as sinks for the rising CO2 levels. However, as rising temperatures and deforestation lead to the collapse of the Amazon rain forest, Earth’s land masses would become a net contributor to atmospheric CO2. Another feedback mechanism that was discussed was the change in soil carbon accumulation in the Northern environments as the permafrost melts and more plant species are able to place organic carbon into the soils there. Also, Moorcroft discussed the impacts humans make on the carbon situation beyond fossil fuel emissions. Specifically, the case of the 1997 peat fires in Borneo. Those fires accounted for an enormous spike in land originated CO2 here in SE Asia. The lecture finished with a discussion of Prof. Moorcroft’s latest project. It is a predictive model used to determine the likely impacts of global climate change on the world’s ecosystems. The model accounts for most of the proven sources of ecosystem feedback, which separates it from earlier predictive models. It also starts from plot models that account for individual plants and their various impacts on the ecosystem.

My own reaction to this lecture was a pretty certain sense of doom regarding climate change. Every time I hear an expert speak about the possible effects of this global experiment that we are conducting, I learn a new reason to lose hope for the planet. Even the ‘best case’ scenario that Prof. Moorcroft described did not raise my spirits as it seemed exceedingly unlikely and far less substantiated than the other possibilities, including the future collapse of the Amazon.

Date: 31 July 2007
Place: Lambir
Lecture: The Neutral Theory in Ecology
Lecturer: Shirley Xiaobi Dong
Abstract: Ruchira Somaweera

Community ecology is focused on understanding the forces that maintain species diversity within communities and finding synthetic explanations for the observed patterns of species abundance in space and time, and across scales. Though the widely accepted Niche theory explains most of these phenomena, it fails to explain species rich communities such as rain forests and coral reef fish communities where the number of coexisting species far exceeds the number of niche axes. In an attempt to produce a better explanation, in 2001 Stephen P. Hubbell introduced the Neutral theory of ecology which assumes that 1) all individuals of all species in a trophically defined community are ecologically equivalent, with identical per capita rates of birth, death, migration, and speciation, 2) communities of trophically similar, competing species saturate all limiting resources (community dynamics are a stochastic, zero-sum game), and 3) population and community changes arises only through ecological drift, stochastic but limited dispersal, and random speciation. Hubbell himself and some subsequent authors used the concept of meta and local communities differently in explaining the theory, and derived several mathematical equations. Hubbell’s neutral theory predicts two important statistical distributions, i.e. The log series distribution and the “zero-sum multinomial” (ZSM) distribution. Despite contradicting the principle of “survival of the fittest”, the theory has been applied successfully to many groups of species, including forest tree species, bacterial populations, moths and British birds, but the theory is known to have drawbacks such as that it do not fit much into tropical and non-sessile communities and its inability to explain beta-diversity patterns. Another major criticisms is that the assumptions used in the theory are very unrealistic. The Neutral theory is relatively very young, and by introducing it Hubbell has being able to “stir the scientific pot vigorously” as he expected. As it took Kimora’s genetic neutral theory more than 20 years to get accepted, may be the neutral theory of ecology will also be widely accepted in future.

Date: 3 Aug 2007
Place: UMS: BMRI
Lecture: Marine Mammals
Lecturer: Saifullah Jaaman
Abstract: Tim Treuer

The waters around Malaysian Borneo have long been home to three types of marine mammals: whales, dolphins and dugongs. Research on these organisms in the region did not begin in earnest until 1996 when the University of Malaysia, Sabah with help from the World Wildlife Fund Malaysia, formed a research group that went on to become the UMS Center for Marine Mammal Studies. The center has conducted censuses and done research on all of Borneo’s 22 marine mammal species, made up of 19 Odontoceti (toothed whales and dolphins), 2 Mysticeti (baleen whales) and 1 species of Sirenian (dugong). Legally all these organisms are protected under multiple national agencies and by the provincial governments of Sarawak and Malaysia. The center has also categorized the major threats to Borneo’s marine mammals, all the greatest of which are anthropogenic in nature. The most prominent of these threats include direct hunting by certain cultural groups (primarily the Bajau of Sabah) of dolphins and porpoises, unintentional killing as by-catch of fishing operations as well as general degradation of marine habitat primarily due to expanding coastal developments. Professor Jaaman listed several public policy measures that could aid in the protection of marine mammals, the most important of which seemed to be increased public education, greater enforcement of existing laws and promotion of eco-tourism. The most promising areas of future research would be to probe the effects of acoustic disturbance, further documentation of distribution and composition and into the extent of marine mammal by-catch.

Date: 4 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Marine ecosystems
Lecturer: Muhammad Ali Bin Syed Hussein
Abstract: Wayne Hsu

Coastal ecosystems comprise of habitats around estuaries and coastal waters where streams and rivers meet the sea and are mixed by tides and currents. The ecosystems include saline, brackish, and freshwaters as well as coastlines and the adjacent lands. Coastal ecosystems are among the most productive of all ecosystems, but are also among the most threatened by development; human societies tend to be located on the river and ocean shores, and development has replaced much of the original coastal ecosystems. Human activities also threaten coastal ecosystems through sewage, pollution, and fishing.

Coastal ecosystems comprise of sandy, rocky, and muddy shores; mangroves and mudflats; sea grass and algae beds; and coral reefs. Sandy beaches are important for tourism, whereas rocky and muddy shorelines provide habitat for animals. Mangroves are viviparous plants that form tropical intertidal forest communities. Mangroves function as biofilters that improve water quality, act as carbon sinks, protect coastlines from erosion, and provide food and protection to juvenile fishes and prawns, bivalves, crabs, and other marine animals. Humans harvest animals from mangrove forests and cut the trees for firewood and charcoal. Sea grasses are true plants that form meadows in estuaries and shallow coastal waters with sandy or muddy bottoms. They are important sources of food for herbivores such as dugongs. Coral reefs are living systems of symbiosis between the animal (polyp) and plant (zooxanthellae). Many polyps aggregate to form colonies that secrete calcium carbonate, which creates a collective skeleton. Coral reefs are particularly threatened by coastal development, land clearing and sedimentation, sewage, and fishing.

Date: 04 Aug 2007
Place: Malohom Bay, Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Global coral reef decline
Lecturer: Paul Moorcroft
Abstrct: Ben

After 2 lectures regarding global climate change and terrestrial ecosystem, Paul Moorcroft lectured us about the decrease in coral reef around the world. Found only in the tropics, coral reef, as an equivalent to tropical rain forest in terrestrial ecosystem, holds enormous species diversity, productivity and species interaction. Coral reef has a similar productivity as tropical rain forest, which has 19 times more biomass. Such production is balanced by high respiration rate and regulated by tight nutrient recycling. Scleractinian anthozoans, the hard corals, rely on the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthallae for survival. The calcium-skeleton-laying corals then form coral reef, which is home to many marine life, ranging from molluscs, echinoderms, crustaceans to fishes. Such important habitat however, is increasingly threatened. Study reveals that the coral cover in Great Barrier Reef decreased from about 40% to 20% from 1960 to 2000, perhaps due to diseases, high terrestrial nutrient output, overfishing and more recently, global warming. The coral predator, crown-of-thorn starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreak is found to be one of the main reason of the decreasing coral cover since early 1960s. Coral bleaching event, which the coral expels its symbiotic zooxanthallae due to high water temperature, started to occur during 1980s and rapidly overtook COTS outbreak to become the main killer of the corals. The relationship of sea surface temperature and bleaching events was well-studied in Carribean sea, which shown that more coral bleaching events occurred during El Nino year. Some scientists suggest that with the expel of low-temperature-optimum zooxanthallae, the corals thereafter get to recruit “fitter” (i.e. zooxanthallae working in high temperature) zooxanthallae. Such hypothesis however is not proven yet. A study of historical ecology of coral reef decline shown that the coral reef around the world (without SEA data) was facing degradation ever since 1500. It was found that the decrease of reef life happened since centuries ago, with large herbivores facing the highest extinction rate, and lowest for the suspension feeders. Apart from global warming and historical decrease, a group of prominent marine ecologists such as Terry Hughes, Jeremy Jackson and John Pandolfi suggests that overfishing is the main reason for coral reef decline. 2 solid examples were presented to support such idea: 1) Northwestern Hawaiian islands which is less disturbed and less accessible were found to hold almost 3 times more coral reef (2.44 tons/ha) than Hawaii island. 2) After the banning of fishing in Exumas Cays land & sea park in Bathamas since 1986, the grazing intensity was found to increase more than 100% while the algal cover was ¼ to 1/5 of the pre-banning value, which favors coral reef growth. Hughes pointed out that parrotfishes, as main herbivores in reef ecosystem, help removing epilithic algae and sediments and thus maintaining the health and growth of corals. Parrotfish also feeds on coral rubble, providing more space for coral growth. 95% of GBR was allowed for fishing, thanks to the GBR park management, 1/3 of GBR was announced to be gazetted as “no fishing zone” since 2004. It is up to everyone’s guess whether our next generation can still see a patch of healthy coral reef. This lecture could be arranged after an introductory lecture on coral reef such that Paul could invest more time in talking about global coral reef decline event.

Date: 5 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Coral Ecology
Lecturer: Prof. Rizwan, Universiti Malaysia Sabah
Abstract: Ruchira Somaweera

Coral reefs are certainly one of our planet’s greatest natural attractions. They comprise corals and other marine organisms such as coralline algae that build solid structures, expanding in size as they grow. Reef building corals or hermatypic corals are found in the photic zone of shallow tropical marine waters with little to no nutrients. The coral polyps do not photosynthesize, but have a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooxanthellae and get up to 90% of their nutrients from their symbionts. As the coral head grows, it lays down a skeletal structure encasing each polyp. Coral reefs cover approximately 284,300 sq kilometers of the Earth’s surface and over 90% of these are found in Indo-Pacific oceans. Factors that effect coral growth and distribution include temperature, depth, salinity, water clarity, wave action and substrate. Coral reefs support an extraordinary biodiversity . This is mainly attributed to tight and efficient nutrient cycling between corals, zooxanthellae, and other reef organisms. They have a very high primary production and are home to a large variety of invertebrates and vertebrates, which form complex food webs . Corals reproduce both asexually (fragmentation and budding ) and sexually. Sexually reproducing corals with separate sexes release clouds of sperms and eggs while hermaphroditic corals release bundles of eggs and sperm . With over 500 species, some of the world’s most diversed corals are found in Wallacea. One of the largest threats faced by these reefs are the outbreak of the Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci). Studies in Bornean waters have showed that their outbreaks happen at three year intervals and Acropora species recover faster than others after outbreaks.

Date: 5 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Evolution of Coral Reef
Lecturer: Zarinah
Absract: Dewi

7,500 sp of coral are known . 5,000 sp are extinct (group Rugosa and Tabulata). Rugosa are solitary or colonial. Broad, horizontal ribs (rugae) on the exterior of their skeleton. Appeared in the Ordovician, peaked in the Silurian and vanished by the end of the Permian/early Triassic. Lacked zooxanthellae (presumably). Polyps lived in tubes with prominent horizontal plates (tabulae) and rudimentary vertical septa (unlike other corals). Presence of zooxanthellae in the Silurian-Devonian Tabulata. Found in the Late Cambrian deposits, and disappeared towards the end of the Permian.

Scleractinia (Madreporaria)

Main group of present reef-building organism. First appeared in the Middle Triassic (found in rocks of the western Thetys in southern Europe and Mediterranean) – not true reefs. Diversified in the Upper Jurassic, Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary. Reef-building corals recorded from the Late Triassic onwards
For ancestry of modern coral, fossil records and DNA studies agree that two most major families today, Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae have their origins with the Astroconiidae as far back as the Triassic and have remained separate from other corals ever since.

Ancestors of Siderasteridae may also have a Triassic origin as the extinct Thamnasteriidae. Extensive reef development occurred in the late Jurassic .

Theory: Opening of the Protoatlantic Ocean (the beginning of Atlantic of today)
The evolutionary history of modern corals is divided to 3 geological intervals:
1.Paleogene (67-24 mya), few survivors of the end-Cretaceous extinction
2.Miocene (24 – 5.2 mya), fauna became subdivided into broad biogeographic provinces we have today
3.Plio-Pleistocene to present, when the world went into full glacial mode and modern distribution patterns emerge

Sea level changes in Indo-Pacific

Over the past 18,000 years the coastline of the central Indo-Pacific has changed. Over time the sea level changes have repeated and combined with substantial tectonic upheavals. These have caused major repeated changes to the pathways of currents and hence pathways of larval dispersal. Species that are alive today are only those small fragments that have not gone extinct. At this present point, the earth’s history, sea levels have been approximately constant for many thousand of years.

If currents remain constant throughout evolutionary time, the ocean would be divisible into sources areas (where larvae come from) and destination areas (where larvae go to) and there would be general uniformity in species and their distribution. But this is not so. Currents are not constant, sea level fluctuates, earth goes through cyclical climate changes due to variation in the tilt of its axis and variation in the shape of it’s orbital motion around the sun


Complications of coral diversity. Corals are morphologically versatile. High level of phenotypic variability, form many ecomorphs on different reefs or even on the same reef of different zones. Morphs are diverse in form, colouration and sizes of corallites. Often described as different sp. Hence no. of nominal sp. exceed the no. of real sp (Veron and Wallace, 1984)

E.g. Acropora includes 365 nominal and 90 real spp., Montipora includes 211 nominal and 50 real spp.

Structure of a coral

Coral polyp: Skeleton of polyp is called corallite (tube containing vertical plates from the center). Tube is corallite wall & plates are septo-costae. Septa: inside the wall. Costae: outside the wall. Tubes joined together by vertical plates called coenosteum (joins one corallite to the next)
Inner margin of corallite wall have inward projecting teeth, forming complex tangle called columella

Polyp growth forms

Plocoid/Phaceloid – corallites of colony have own walls (depend on elongate shape). Meandroid/Ceriod – corallites of colony share common walls (depend on presense/absense of valley). Flabello-meandroid – corallites that form valleys with no common walls

Some corals (sp.) may have more than 1 type of colony formation

Coral growth form

Most common terms to describe coral growth form are:
1) massive – similar in all dimensions
2) columnar – forming columns
3) encrusting – on substrate
4) branching – tree-like or finger-like
5) foliaceous – leaf-like
6) laminar – plate-like

1. Family Acroporidae


Montipora; Colonies are submassive, laminar, encrusting or branching. Corallites are small. Septa are in two cycles projecting teeth. Tentacles are usually extended only at night.
Acropora; Colonies usually branching, bushy or plat-like, rarely encrusting or submassive.

2. Family Poritidae


Porites; Colonies are flat (laminar or encrusting), massive or branching. Massive colonies are spherical or hemisperical when small and helmet
Stylarea (not in Malaysia)
Poritipora (not in Indo-Pacific)
Goniopora; Colonies are usually branching, columnar or massive but may be encrusting. Polyps are long and fleshy and tentacles are normally extended day and night. Polyps have 24 tentacles.
Alveopora; Colonies are massive or branching, often with irregular shapes.

3. Family Favia

Characters: Colonies are usually massive, either flat or dome-shaped. Corallites are mostly plocoid. Tentacles are extended only at night and are tapered, often with pigmented tips.

4. Family Fungiidae

13 genera, most common: Heliofungia, Fungia, Ctenactis, Herpolitha, Polyphylia
Heliofungia; Polyps are solitary, free livingand flat with a central mouth. Septa have large lobed teeth. Tentacles are extended day and night and are long, similar to those of giant anemone.
Fungia; Corals are solitary, generally free-living, flat, domed-shaped and circular or elongate in outline with a central mouth.
Herpolitha; Colonies are flat, narrow and elongate, usually with pointed ends.

6. Family Euphyllidae

Euphyllia; Colonies are flabelloid, phaceloid or flabello-meandroid.
Plerogyra; Colonies are phaceloid or flabello-meandroid. Septa are large, smooth-edges, solid exsert and widely spaced.
Physogyra; Colonies are massive or form thick plates, meandroid with short, widely separated valleys.

7. Family Pocilloporidae

Pocillopora; Colonies are submassive to branching with branches either extending to be flattened or fine and irregular.
Seriatopora; Colonies are compact bushes with thin branches. Corallites are arranged in neat rows along the branches.

Line Intercept Transect

Used to access sessile benthic community of coral reefs. Community characterized using lifeform categories i.e. morphological description. If observer can identify to coral species, the taxonomic data can be addition to lifeform categories. Monitoring should be repeated every year, or at least every 2 years

Site selection

Conduct general survey of reef to select suitable sites that are representative of the reef (Manta tow is useful for this). At least 2 sites should be selected (windward & leeward if these zones exist)
Record precise location of site, i.e. GPS, aerial photo/chart, note landforms, unique reef features e.g. Bays, channels. Mark transect site of reef using metal stakes (angle iron/star-pickets), hammered deep into substratum (at least 0.5m). Attachment of surface buoys would be helpful of finding site markers.

General procedure

At each site, 5 transects of 20m length are located at each 2 depths; shallow 3m & deep 10m. If typical reef flat, crest & slope present, shallow transects located on the reef slope 3m below crest, deeper transects located 9-10m below crest. If there is little/no corals at 10m, transect should be laid at 6-8m deep. No. of observers should be kept minimum. 2 observers recording data from transect, & a third diver rolling out & rolling up the tapes. Each 20m transect should be completed by 1 observer. Beginning of tape should be attached firmly to coral/suitable ‘anchor’, then roll tape out parallel to the crest/shore, following constant depth contour (use depth gauge). Tape must remain close to substratum (0-15cm) & secured (prevent excessive movement). Try to minimize area where tape is suspended > 50cm above substratum. Divers must start at deeper transect & proceed to shallower transects. Always be aware of dive time & depth. After transects completed, mark the site by stakes &/or surface buoys.

Date: 5 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Marine Invertebrates
Lecturer: Min Sheng Khoo
Abstract: Eka

Marine invertebrates including Cnidarian Group. For examples there are Anemones,including Sea anemones and tube anemones. Sea anemones have tentacles hundreds of microscopic stinging cells or nematocyst. Close related to coral can develop carbon. Co in habitat anemones,clownfish, crabs. Since,Tube anemones (peacock anemone) mostly broad in substrat . They have tubes for protect them from danger and drying out at low tide.

And others group of Cnidarian are soft coral which ave 8 tentacles and call as octocoral , compared six tentacles or multiples (hard coral), call as hexacoral. We can find sea fans, whipalmost colorfull and usually live in stream. Jellyfish , hydroids the examples of Cnidarian group, which hydroids have characteristic fernlike, stinging, nudibranch food.

Sponges are one of Porifera that can find in marine. They are important in ecosystem and have many different form and colour. Have spores and spines to take filter a lot of particles frm water. Simple organisms without differentiation. They have protected system by spicula and toxic (chemical defense).

Plathyhelminthes is other taxon of marine invertebrates and call as flatworms , each species have different colour, they don’t have gills, hermaprodhit and when they close each other they will mate, also have pneumatocyst.

Segmented worm or annelida. Christmas treeworm is one of polychaeta member they have long tongue for catch something from water.

Mallacostraca group including crabs (mallacostraca; decapoda;pleocymata) have modified somelike pedla so they can swim or climb, some of them poisonos. Spider crab for example live in hard coral. Lobster , indicator of the reef. The other member of Mallacostraca are shrimps (mallacostraca; decapoda; caridea) they have lamellar gills, usually hanging tight in seaweed, or camuflage for protect themselves.

Barnacles group (maxillapoda; thecostraca; cirripedia) have feeding behaviour catch something in water. Settle on to substrate and have a gluelike to attach their body to the substrate. For example one of barnacles have structure like volcano (dome shaped) with opened organ in the top (operculum).

One of gastropod group are bivalves. For example clams (oyisters, mussels). They are unable to search food so they have simbiotic relation with others animal or plant. For example Giant clams, they have relation with zooxanthella for produce food. Others example are snails, slug and nudibranch. Slug and nudibranchs without schlereton (shell), their gills out of body. Nudibranchs utilize comuflage colors to escape detection. Reproduction of nudibranchs present in a single sex nudibranch, but never self fertilization. They will come close together when they mate.

Cephalods group includes squids, cuttlefish, octopus. Octopus have cuttle bone and they have ink for comuflage or for their escape.

Two of examples for Echinodermata are sea star. They have radial symmetry body, most have five arms. Mouth on central of bottom body. Sexes are seperated and external fertilization. And the other example of echinodermata is feather sea .

Others marine invertebrates are sea cucumbers (pentaradial body) and sea urchin

Date: 6 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lab: Fish Families and Taxonomy
Instructor: Cam Webb
Abstract: Ian

Perciformes are the largest order of vertebrates. Their phylogeny is a polytomy, which means that people do not know which groups arose out of which other groups and who is sister to who.

Many fishes change sex throughout life.

Drawing Assignment:

Sketch the outline, main bands of color, fin shapes, and fin numbers of a species from each of the following groups.

Puffer fish: Puffer-fish can use their inflation to lodge themselves into crevices to escape predator extraction.

Mackerel / Tuna

Surgeon fish: Including the blue tang, planktovores. They have a pair of spines on either side of the tail that are very sharp.

Butterfly fish

Angelfish: Their heads taper toward the mouth, they feed on coral, and are indicators of good coral condition. They also posses a spine on operculum which distinguishes them from damselfish

Damselfish: Many live in anemones. The family is highly territorial, typical fish stay in a single patch of reef their entire lives.

Parrotfish: They rasp coral and algae off substrates with their fused teeth.

Wrasses: They represent an incredible reef feeding ecology radiation. Cleaner wrasses (blue and yellow) pick parasites off fish in mutualistic partnerships.

Goatfish: Bottom-feeders, they use chin barbs and whiskers to feel for prey on the bottom.

Gobys: Largest fish family

Snappers / Groupers: Snappers have sloping foreheads, found off the edge of reef, deeper down.

Date: 6 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Land Snails on Limestone: Evolution, Diversity, and Conservation
Lecturer: Menno Schilthuizen
Abstract: Sarah Federman

Limestone is sedimentary rock made entirely of composites (usually of marine organisms); it dissolves easily under the influence of water with a low pH and contains high calcium availability, calcium carbonate deposits as well as a high pH. Typical limestone formations in the tropics include: tower karsts (small and very small hills bounded by cliffs due to rapid fragmentation), and lenticular hills (that have never been connected, originated from chunks of coral reefs).

Schilthuizen performed a study on different limestone endemic populations of the Opisthostoma snail, examining their evolutionary and genetic differentiation. In Malaysia, limestone formations do not occur frequently, and are fragmented and very scattered. Most limestone formations are lenticular, separated by kilometers of acidic non-calcareous soils creating a high barrier to dispersal for organisms dependent on Limestone as a habitat. Snails have a low acidity tolerance and high calcium requirements, they occur in higher densities on limestone. Endemism amond snails does occur on limestone, an example being ‘Prosobranchia’ (Caenogastropoda and Neritopsina); seventy five percent of limestone restricted prosobranchs are endemic to a single hill, their narrow range of niche tolerance making them more vulnerable to extinction.

Allopatric differentiation was submitted as an explanation for genetic differentiation between geographically isolated populations. The Opisthostoma, abundant, diverse, and obligate limestone dwelling snails were examined for allopatric differentiation across populations. Shell morphology across populations was measured using principal components analysis: PC1, general shell architecture; PC2, radial ribbing; PC3, aperture ornamentation. The three principal components were enough to separate 13 different populations of Opisthostoma.

In order determine the impetus driving genetic differentiation between populations, the snails were sequenced genetically. Analysis showed that there was no significant correlation between geographical and genetic distance, meaning that populations exist in strict isolation with no gene flow. Principal components analysis showed that if differentiation between populations could not be due solely to random genetic drift. Genetic studies were preformed in order to determine if shell shape was an adapted defense to predator behavior or if predators adjust behavior to the shape of the prey. Results determined that predator behavior was partly genetic. In summary: predator behavior is fixed locally, and modified by prey shape; modification of snail shape affects predation efficiency, meaning that there is the possibility of an arms race between predator and prey.

Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecure: Rain forest trees vs. corals and fish
Lecturer: Cam Webb
Abstract: Megan Bartlett

Rain forests and coral reefs are comparable ecosystems, both in terms of their high biodiversity and their ecological structures, which consist of levels of sessile primary producers (trees and corals) and mobile consumers (fish and insects). In both ecosystems, the mechanism that maintains their high biodiversity is unknown. There are two main types of theories proposed to explain this, either equilibrium or non-equilibrium. Non-equilibrium models include the neutral theory, which says that species are ecologically neutral and do not force each other into extinction because the ecosystem is prevented from ever reaching equilibrium by stochastic events, and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which says that medium levels of disturbance maintain diversity by creating space for new species to live but not driving present ones to extinction. The main equilibrium model is habitat partitioning, which states that each species occupies a different ecological niche, so that they are not actually competing for identical resource bases. These theories apply better to some organisms than others, although none is a perfect answer. Tree diversity is most convincingly explained by a combination of habitat partitioning, and within similar ecological groups, the neutral theory, as well as density-dependent effects like pathogen abundance. Corals also have a lot of niche specialization in their growth forms, especially in terms of their height/durability trade-offs. Most insect diversity can be linked to specialization with the diverse range of possible host plants. Fish diversity is well explained by niche specialization.

I thought the most interesting part of this lecture was about speciation in trees, especially that both neutral and equilibrium models may apply to their diversity. I would be very interested to see a model that combines both theories, and to know what defines an ecological group within which all species are ecologically identical.

Date 7 Aug 2007
Place: Pulau Gaya
Lecture: Small Mammals of Borneo
Lecturer: Henry Tiandun
Abstract: Ross McFarland

Henry Tiandun, a researcher of mammalian biology at UMS, came to give us a lecture about small mammals in Borneo. He cited the cause of mammal diversity in SE Asia as the fact that the forests here have had a canopy structure for a long time. The diversity of habitats within a single ecosystem lead to diversification of species. Now, Tiandun cites the increase of oil palm plantation area as the biggest threat to the diversity of small mammals in Borneo.

To prove this hypothesis about the collapse of diversity as a result of oil palm land conversion, Tiandun created a sampling experiment to determine the functional diversity within three separate land vegetation types. The three sample plots were in a virgin forest area, secondary logged forest, and an oil palm plantation. Each one consisted of many hundreds of bated traps set out in a line over several months. The animals captured each night were recorded and then categorized by species. As predicted, there were a much greater number of native species caught in the virgin forests than in the oil palm areas. The one interesting thing that came from the experiment was that, while the oil palms were dominated by rats, which thrive on the wastage fruit from the palms, those rats were all native species. Typically agricultural areas in developing countries are dominated by European Brown Rats which are far better suited to the developed land structure and urban areas. The fact that the native species can still out compete in Borneo is a positive sign for the small mammal diversity here.

My own reaction to Henry Tiandun’s talk was that I found the evidence about decreasing mammal diversity as oil palm increases to be pretty logical. However, his study, at least as he explained it, was rather obfuscatory. The evidence did not necessarily seem to be strong in support of the diversity argument.

Date 10 Aug 2007
Place: Mount Kinabalu
Lecture: Forest zonation and adaptations to high elevation
Lecturer: Cam Webb
Abstract: Pui
Mount Kinabalu has various type of forest vegetations zone: lowland dipterocarp forest, lower montane oak-chestnut forest, upper montane forest, and sub-alpine zone. These diverse vegetations are effected by differences in altitude toward the montane, and within the vegetation zones, there are differences in the slope, soil type, water and sunlight availability. These factors influence plant to evolve particular characteristics adapted for various climates and elevations. Plants become shorter and have smaller leaves toward higher altitudes, and these specialized plants dominate the vegetation. The lowland montane forest is dominated by family Dipterocarpaceae with forest canopy approximately above 50 m. Lower montane oak-chestnut forest can be found approximately above 1,200 meters; here trees become smaller and shorter with forest canopy reaching 25-30 m. This forest is dominated by conifer (Agathis, Dacrycarpus, Dacrydium, Phyllocladus, and Podocarpus) and oak (family Fagaceae). Other plants that common along this trip are the members of eucalyptus, myrtle (Myrtaceae), and tea (Theaceae) family. Upper montane forest is above 2,200 meters, here most of the trees and ground floor are thickly surrounded by mosses and liverworts. This forest type is abundance with orchids, family Rhododendron and conifer. A part of forest areas are covered by ultramafic soils that low in phosphates, high in iron and silica, and metals poisonous to plants. These poor soils prevent many species of plants to grow and these make it abundance with pitcher plants (Nepenthes villosa and N. rajah) which able to adapt well in poor and high toxic soil condition. Sub-alpine zone is about 3,300 meters with stunted trees. This forest was dominated by shrub communities, such as conifer, Rhododendrons (R. ericoides and R. buxifollium) and raspberries.

Beaman, J. H. and Beaman, R. S. Plants of Mount Kinabalu. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Malaysia, 1998
Beaman, R. S., Beaman, J. H. and Wood, J. J. The Plants of Mount Kinabalu 2: Orchids. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew., 1994
Kitayama, K. Vegetation of Mount Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Malaysia: Map of physiognomically classified vegetation, scale 1:100,000. East-West Center, 1991

Date: 13 Aug 2007
Place: Deramakot Forest Reserve HQ
Lecture: Forest Management and Certification of Deramakot Forest Reserve FMU 19A
Lecturer: Janu
Abstract: Sarah Federman

Attaining independent Malay management in the year 2000, Deramakot sustainable forest reserve is a 55,083 ha plot divided into 135 compartments assigned to different uses: production, protection, and community. Deramakot is a heterogeneous area made up of slopes, ridges, and flat or undulating terrain. The plot contains 5 villages (20 to 50 households) on the fringe of the forest reserve. Deramakot administers the land focusing on: harvesting timber sustainably, silviculture, road maintenance, protection of the plot against illegal logging and poaching, and monitoring wildlife. The organization employs 64 managerial workers and about 150 contractors many of whom are from the Sabah Forestry Department although the reserve does attempt to employ locals as much as possible.

Deramakot’s forest management plan states that: no more than 17,600 meters cubed of lumber may be harvested each year; there will be 1,000 ha silviculturally treated each year; community vocational and environmental awareness training will be implemented; all harvesting much follow the reduced impact logging guidelines. Pre-harvest plans include: tree marking, road alignment, and a comprehensive harvesting plan with a map. Harvesting practices are comprised of: monitoring the plot being used, directional felling, a daily record, grading and measurement, and an auction. Post harvest planning focuses on mitigating soil erosion by constructing cross drains and water bumps, and the removal of culverts that may impede the flow of water. Deramakot’s harvesting and other protocols are under the supervision of the SFD (Sabah Forestry department).

Harvesting focuses on reduced impact logging which utilizes an airborne system for difficult terrain and slopes over 17 degrees, as well as crawler tractors for easy terrain and slopes below 17 degrees. Lots are cycled through in 40 year time periods allowing for forest rehabilitation. Deramakot is an SGS certified logging endeavor undergoing constant reassessment and improvement in both logging and community involvement. Although sustainable forestry does not provide loggers with immediate monetary compensation, the long-run benefits are apparent. Forests last longer providing a much more reliable source of income as well as protecting against habitat loss and fragmentation.

Date: 13 Aug 2007
Place: Deramakot Forest Reserve
Lab: Deramakot’s Forest Management Trail
Guide: Janu Arius
Abstract: Tim Treuer

The Forest Management Trail at Deramakot is a short path through the forest designed to educate visitors about the Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) techniques as well as other forestry practices that has allowed Deramakot to become an Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified operation. Inter-spaced throughout the trail were eight informational panels, each of which illustrated and described a different required component for sustainable forest management. Beginning with an example of two sides of the trail, one cut in the past, the other untouched, our guide, Janu, described some of the ecological impacts of logging in the years following the collection of timber. To remedy much of this impact, FSC certification requires the appropriate use of silviculture, which includes the planting of desirable timber species and cutting of climbing vines and bamboos, in addition to other post-cutting care of the forest. In the following stop Janu showed us replanting lines, areas where important timber species had been planted in an evenly spaced row on heavily disturbed area, where it would otherwise be unlikely for the forest to grow back sufficiently for the next cycle of cutting (about 40 years after the first cut).

In addition to the descriptions of different methods for ameliorating damage done to the forest, Janu described the methods to reduce damage to the forest during the logging process. After showing us a decade old logging road that was only beginning to sprout small woody plants, Janu explained the limitations on ‘blading’, and other parts of road construction required for FSC certification. At a later stop we saw the much less severe damage done by removing logs using the Skyline method, used in certain situations on steep slopes. The final major component for sustainable forest management that Janu emphasized was the reduced number of trees taken. For proper forest regeneration enough ‘mother’ trees must be left to recruit the next generation. In addition there are many important fruit and other types of trees that are used by local individuals, and for that reason many are left standing.

While the Forest Management Trail and Janu presented a strong case why RIL and FSC standards are good forest management practices, it does gloss over one important fact, namely that while ecologically sound, it is not necessarily economically sound. Sustainable forestry at Deramakot will have taken about 20 years to begin turning a net profit (in the first 10 years expenditures outweighed profits). Though many of the inefficiencies in getting Deramakot up and running could be smoothed over and a higher premium could be payed for sustainable timber in the future, it is still likely that the main drive for sustainable forest management must come from the governmental end, where the state or nation mandates that for the long term good of the forest and the people, RIL or FSC standards must be met.

Date: 13 Aug 2007
Place: Deramakot Forest Reserve HQ
Discussion: Sustainable forestry and certification
Abstract: Wayne Hsu

Students divided into two groups to debate whether Borneo’s forests are best conserved by protected areas or sustainable forestry. The pro-park group argued that sustainable logging is an uneconomical, a high-risk investment with large upfront costs and no promises of profit. Furthermore, parks receive far greater priority and funding from national and international governing bodies, whereas there are strong disagreements over if and how sustainable forestry should be practiced. Protected areas have been relatively successful in conserving biodiversity, but standards for sustainable forestry and certification are still debated (e.g., FSC vs. ISO). The pro-forestry group argued that requesting governments to set aside all forests as parks is impractical and difficult to enforce. Governments need a source of income for economic growth, and sustainable logging might be a more stable source of income than an unpredictable tourism market. However, the pro-park group countered that there is a large potential for carbon trading and ecosystem services to play a role in generating significant economic benefits to nations protecting their forests. The consensus was that a combination of parks and sustainable extraction initiatives may be the best means of conserving Borneo’s forests; both are tools of conservation that can be utilized to ensure the continued existence of biodiversity while fulfilling other national interests.

I felt the debate was useful for students to think critically of the benefits of the two conservation strategies. However, the argument against parks appeared far weaker than the argument against sustainable logging. Debates that require participants to take an extreme standpoint are thus limited in practical value. Perhaps a more creative discussion might be how a nation (or nations, in the case of Borneo) can best allocate natural resources to balance the needs of conservation and economic development.

Date: 14 Aug 2007
Place: Sepilok Rain Forest Discovery Center
Lecture: Conservation Genetics of Orang Utans in The Lower Kinabatangan Sanctuary, Sabah Malaysia
Lecturer : Benoit Goossens
Abstract: Subekti Sulistyawati

Genetic diversity is really important for populations to survive and reproduce under new conditions and in allowing the populations to adapt changing environment. Small and isolated populations are subject to rapid decline in numbers and local extinction for three main reasons : 1. genetic problems caused by loss of genetic variations, interbreeding and genetic drift; 2. demographic fluctuations; and 3. environmental fluctuations. A loss of genetic diversity is often associated with interbreeding (mating between related individuals) and genetic drift. Reduction of reproduction fitness, low in individual survival and individual longevity are some of interbreeding consequences.

Orang utan’s of Sumatra and Borneo (Pongo abelli and P. pygmaeus) populations, the only great ape’s of Asia, tend to decline dramatically. In Sumatra, the number of orang utan may have dropped from c. 35.000 in 1900 to 27.000 in 1997 (Rijksen & Meijaard. 1999) in Goossens et al. 2005). The number in 2003 has recently been estimated to be as low as 3500 (Which et al. 2003 in Goossens et al. 2005). While in Borneo, the populations also in critical where in 1996 the populations estimated to be 23.000 and dropped to 15.000 individuals in 1997. The rapid decline threatening orang utan caused by hunting, habitat loss, habitat degradation and forest fragmentation. But anthropogenic forest fragmentation is the major issue affecting orang utan’s survival in Malaysia and Borneo (Laidlaw 2000; Kinnaird et al. 2003 in Goossens et al. 2005).

Conservation planning to safe orang utan from its increasingly fragmented habitat is critical and have some challenges to think about in determining viable population size, assessing the potential for and importance of dispersal among populations (Travis & Dytham 1999 in Goossens et al. 2005) and estimating the relative importance of different ecological and life history parameters in predicting extinction risk (Brashares 2003 in Goossens et al.2005). And through genetic diversity study of this large-bodiedspecies and slow-reproducing species that have been shown to be more prone to extinction, possible to infer dispersal and immigration events which can have profound consequences for population viability, allow the assignment of sexed individuals to their natal populations, and permit the development of a better understanding of how geographical features in different landscapes correlate with dispersal and genetic differentiation among local populations.

Based on the context, Benoit did investigation of the remaining orang utan populations in Sabah, found in the forests of the Lower Kinabatangan flood plain ( c . 1100 individuals, Ancrenaz et al . 2004). The 27.000 ha area was gazetted by the state government of Sabah in August 11st 2002 as a wildlife sanctuary. Deforestation and illegal logging, surrounded by oil palm plantation and people’s traditional land are major threats in the sanctuary. Examining genetic structure within and among orang utan in the remaining sampled forest fragments and determining the effect of natural barriers such as the Kinabatangan river on isolation regarding orang utan’s population were two main objectives of the research. Benoit research results showed that the orang utans sampled in the Lower Kinabatangan flood plain exhibited a high level of genetic variability suggesting that orang utans are not in mutations or in drift-equilibrium (Goossens et al. 2005). Furthermore, Goossens et al. (2005) explained three reasons caused the high level of genetic diversity of orang utan in Lower Kinabatangan area were : 1. the presence of very large numbers of orang utans throughout the Kinabatangan area over long periods of time, 2. the very recent habitat loss and degradation which may have led to the concentration of the surviving individuals in the remaining forest patches along the river, and 3. the long generation time and lifespan of the species which allowed populations to retain diversity for long periods after habitat loss.

Refferences :

Ancrenaz et al. 2004. Determination of ape distribution and population size using ground and aerial surveys: a case-study in orang-utans in Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah Malaysia. Animal Conservations 7 : 375-385

Goossens et al. 2005. Patterns of genetic diversity and migrations in increasingly fragmented and declining orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) populations from Sabah, Malaysia. Molecular Ecology 14 : 441-456

Primack et al. 1998. Biologi Konservasi. Edisi pertama. Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Jakarta. Indonesia

Date: 15 Aug 2007
Place: Sepilok FRC
Lecture: The Vegetation of Sabah
Lecturer: Reuben Nilus
Abstract: Dewi

Forest formation in Sabah are correlate with; climate, edaphic condition, elevation and water table. Soil heterogeneity and broad altitudinal zonation around Sabah also play roles in forming vegetation in Sabah.

Major wildlife habitat types


Tropical forests are the home of the greatest biological diversity on the planet, supporting well over half the globe’s species of plants and animals on only a little over five percent of the total land area.

Sabah’s forest is divided into four broad categories of vegetation type of habitat:

1. Coastal and Mangrove Forest.

Coastal forest includes mangrove forest, freshwater swamp forest, riverine forest and beach vegetation. These types of habitats are found from zero to 100 feet above sea level. The distribution is all along the coast and on major rivers in Sabah.
Mangrove forests and swamp forests are important breeding grounds for fish and provide nesting and roosting sites for wetland birds such as egrets and herons.  They are critical for the survival of Borneo’s famous Proboscis Monkey.

2. Dipterocarp Forest.

This type of habitat is sub-divided into three categories: The Lowland Dipterocarp Forest (100 – 500 feet above sea level), Upland Dipterocarp Forest (500 – 1,500 feet above sea level) and Highland Dipterocarp Forest (1,500 – 3,000 feet above sea level).  Dipterocarp Forests are among the most diverse ecosystems on earth, and are home to most of Sabah’s unique and famous wildlife species, such as orangutan and rhinoceros.  Most commercial logging is carried out in these forests.  are special lowland forest types.  These special forests may be low in stature, but are rich in unique plant species.

3. Heath forests and limestone forests.

These are special lowland forest types.  Although these forests may be low in stature, they are rich in unique plant species.

4. Montane Forest.

Montane forest is sub-divided into Lower Montane Forest (3,000 – 4,500 feet above sea level) and Upper Montane Forest (4,500 – 11,000) feet above sea level). Upper montane habitat type in Sabah is basically restricted to Kinabalu and Trus Madi mountains.  Many rare and restricted range species occur in these unique habitats.

Sabah has a rich variety of wetland habitats besides mangrove forest, including swamp forests, peat swamp forest (found on the Klias Peninsula), marshes, rivers and lakes.  In addition to many fishes and aquatic organisms, these wetlands are habitat for numerous species of wetland birds, including long distance migrants that may travel from as far as Australia or Siberia.  They are also home to Crocodiles and the rare False Gharial.

Marine Habitats

Among the most important marine habitats are seagrass beds and coral reefs.  Seagrass beds are important as breeding grounds for many ocean fish, and are feeding grounds for Green Turtles and the rare Dugong (or sea cow).  Like tropical forests, coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on earth and Sabah’s reefs are famous the world over.  The open ocean is also rich in life, and is the home of many valuable fish and invertebrates, as well as marine mammals such as porpoises and whales.

Date: 20 Aug 2007
Place: Maliau Basin study center
Lecture: Plant Animal Interaction
Leturer: Brad Ruhfel
Abstract: Ben

Brad Ruhfel gave us a brief introduction of plant animal interaction, focusing on the pollination and seed dispersal of angiosperms. As we know, angiosperms are the dominating plants on earth, what makes them such successful? Perhaps the co-evolution of angiosperms and pollinators is part of the answer. Co-evolution can be explained as the interaction between 2 clades that resulted in the development of certain adaptation to the interdependency. The only ways for plants to “move” on land are through pollination and seed dispersal; Animals, wind and waters grant the angiosperms such great mobility. It is believed that the employment of animal brought the “birth” of angiosperms and hence plant and animal interaction in pollination and seed di

spersal attracts huge interest. In such relationship, plants benefit from pollination while animals benefit from the food provided by plants. Angiosperms start to develop nectaries which produce nectar that contains sugar. The pollen itself also serve as great protein source for animals. Interestingly plants from different clades developed similar adaptation and strategy to employ the pollinators; Such morphologically convergent is called pollination syndromes. The pollination syndromes of the plants also cause the animal to develop certain adaptation which speed up the co-speciation of plants and animals. A number of pollination syndromes were introduced, starting from the most primitive form of animal pollination, beetle. Beetle pollination is thought to be the most primitive as it was found in the pollination of conifer. The droplet exudate from the cone which is originally designed for wind pollination is fed by beetle and subsequently pollinating another cone as the beetle move on. Other animals that pollinate plants include butterflies, moths, birds, and bats while bees and wasps are the biggest group of animals that pollinate flowers

Seed dispersal is also very important for plants. Seeds are usually dispersed as far as possible in order to avoid competition, predators, pathogen and inbreeding. However, there may not have suitable habitat far from mother plant. Animals therefore are useful in finding suitable place as animals usually live in similar habitats. Similar to pollination, fruits and seeds developed dispersal syndromes. However, unlike pollination syndrome where the modification usually comes from the same part of the flower (yellow or red petals for bird pollinating flowers), different plants may obtain similar dispersal characteristics in different part of their fruits. Brad also discussed the theory of general flowering and masting. Knowledge about these events is limited as it takes long time for them to occur (5 ~ 7 years for a mast!). In fact the knowledge about pollination and seed dispersal are not comprehensive enough. For example, oil palm and vanilla orchid were hand pollinated for years because no one knows what is the exact pollinators! A lot of the pollinations are not observed though we can speculate the pollinators according to the pollination syndrome but there are always exceptions!

Date: 20 Aug 2007
Place: Maliau Basin Center
Lecture: Plant Phylogenetics
Lecturer: Charles Davis
Abstract: Jesse Hiestand

Professor Charles Davis introduced the subject of plant phylogenetics by focusing his talk on studies of the flowering plant clade Malpighiales. He explained that Malpighiales had originally been divided into as many as 14 orders based on morphology. As a demonstration of the clade’s diversity, he showed several fruits, from smooth nuts to fleshy, winged laterally or dorsally, and some even bristly. Despite these differences, genetic studies showed that all of these variants were in fact closely related. Furthermore from these studies, biogeographic conclusions could be made, with the evidence supporting a Laurasian migration most strongly. He covered the other possibilities in depth, as well as gave a detailed segment on the evolution of the tropical rainforest biome, before moving on to Rafflesiaceae as a specific example within the clade.

After providing a background and character analysis of parasitic angiosperms, he explained how Rafflesiaceae‘s loss of genetic material coding for photosynthesis and fast molecular evolution made it an interesting case for phylogenetic analysis. Interestingly, it was then found that Rafflesiaceae was more closely related to its host Vitaceae than Malpighiales via horizontal gene transfer.

Professor Davis’ lecture provided the most thorough coverage of biogeographical concepts, as well as provided an interesting vignette into the evolution of tropical rainforests in addition to a detailed demonstration of phylogenetic concepts. However, I was disappointed that he skipped a slide in his presentation that provided technical information regarding the methods used in the study of Rafflesiaceae. Even so, his lecture was one of the most information-intensive, yet fascinating lectures of the course.

Date: 23 Aug 2007
Place: Maliau Basin Center
Lecture: Conservation and Human Health
Lecturer: Kinari Webb
Abstract: Kore Tau

The lecture was started with a moving story that is a typical scene in many developing countries.
A young family: mother is 20 and pregnant with their 3rd child, father is working in a stone quarry where be breaks stone, and earns $3 a fortnight. Father succumbs to Hepatitides and is sick for 2 months, mother is worried, they do not have money for food etc. She than has a miscarriage, the baby dies and the placenta won’t come out, (town is two hours away) and the doctor only visits the local clinic one day in the whole year. Miraculously that particular day was his visiting day. Had it been otherwise the young mother would have died, as the only qualified US doctor (Dr. Kinari Webbin that area is not allowed to practice. The hospital bill for the father is ten dollars, which they do not have. He borrows the money that has a 150% interest rate. This family has now gotten deeper into the cycle of poverty, which is very hard to come out of. It is a typical event as to how the poor get poorer and the richer get richer.
Why do we think conservation is important?
Some reasons proposed were to reduce poverty and sickness and to introduce a way of sustainable living in places where the need for a healthy environment is sacrificed for the basic human need, like shelter, food and clean water. In the process of providing these basic needs the poor people are suffering because of the greed of other human beings. But the need to protect our environment and at the same time provide for the basic human human need is a challenge.
Conservation is important because it contributes to the overall health of the human on a large scale because healthy environments have clean water and air, grounds free of pesticides etc.

The Health in Harmony project was set up by Dr. Cam Webb and his wife Dr. Kinari Webb to help the community in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, near the Gulung Palu National Park. The problems mentioned above in the story were what they had to tackle and they identified 5 ways in which they could help the community
1. Providing high quality health care
2. Creative payment solutions for the health care
manure, charcoal, bamboo, roofing, wood, and labor. Labor is the main form of payment, they work on the ground that is going to be reforested.
3. Promoting conservation
Reforestation of an area that had been logged,
4. Community education and training
5. Preventative care and education
The project is combining human health and conservation because having a healthy environment goes a long way in preserving the human life.