A Fruitful Week at ITBC-UMS BORNEENSIS Dung Beetle Collection in Sabah
Updated: Jul 6
On the last week of May 2022, Tropical Ecology and Entomology (TEE) Lab members, Dr. Eleanor Slade (PI), Marx Yim (Project officer), Ong Xin Rui (PhD student) travelled to Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ITBC) at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu. This visit is in connection with the GBIF project "Mobilising data on ecologically important insects in Malaysia and Singapore" funded by Biodiversity Information Fund for Asia (BIFA) and its objectives were twofold - to hold meetings with our GBIF collaborators and to examine the BORNEENSIS dung beetle collection.
Accompanied by TEE's postdoc researcher Dr. Chiew Li Yuen, who recently completed her PhD with ITBC-UMS, we met up with Dr. Monica Suleiman (Director of ITBC) before visiting the BORNEENSIS collection with Mdm Puan Petherine Jimbau (Senior curator of BORNEENSIS collection).
Throughout the week, we endeavored to determine the efforts necessary to integrate their dung beetle collection. This involved examining the type of data that is available for each specimen, creating a simple catalogue of their collection and also obtaining datasets both online and offline. We also had the exciting opportunity to examine several key type specimens and morphospecies which will serve as important reference to our work in the future.
In conjunction with the Sabah Biodiversity Week, we were invited to speak to the staff and students of ITBC in a knowledge sharing seminar. Marx Yim spoke about our GBIF project "Mobilising data on ecologically important insects in Malaysia and Singapore" where he shared more about the objectives, function and application of GBIF and also about our project in-depth. Following that, Xin Rui shared about "Identifying data and knowledge gaps for insect conservation in Southeast Asia". This is one of the chapters in her PhD that she is currently undertaking.
This was followed by a closed-door meeting with the staff of ITBC where we discussed progress and ongoing processes of the project and shared our findings on how best to integrate the BORNEENSIS dung beetle collections into the project. The meeting also involved understanding the resources available at ITBC and how it can be utilised effectively for the project. We also discussed best practices in digitisation workflows following the examination of their collection. Among those present were Mdm Puan Petherine Jambau, Dr. Liew Thor Seng, Dr. Evan Quah Seng Huat and Dr. Ng Ting Hui.
We are extremely grateful for our collaborators at ITBC-UMS for granting us access to the BORNEENSIS collection and for kindly hosting our visit.