This month began the new Biodiversity Assessment Surveys. The purpose of these surveys is to gain a better understanding of what wildlife exists in our forest, especially as the surrounding area hasn’t yet been studied. The forests in Northern Thailand were once rich in biodiversity; unfortunately, due to the human impact on the environment, this has decreased mainly due to settlement, agriculture and hunting. Northern Thailand is still very much an under researched region, giving us an ideal opportunity to perhaps either discover new and rare species, or animal behaviors. A long-term aim is to educate the villagers and volunteers on the area’s biodiversity in order to help preserve forest ecosystems.
In December this initially involved selecting two different habitats for assessment. The first habitat selected is situated along side a river that flows through multiple habitats including secondary forest, bog land and a corn field. The second habitat is situated behind the village temple and travels uphill through a dry forest.
Our 6 surveys completed throughout January collected 14,622 observations comprising of 36 species across both trails including 17 species of bird, 17 species of insect and 2 species of mammal. The large majority of observations being that of Harvestmen, a species of arachnid belonging to the order Opiliones that are commonly mistaken for spiders. Only 6 of these observations occurred on the temple trail, the remaining 14,454 observations all being observed at the river. These arachnids are often found congregating in large groups hundreds to thousands strong, interestingly, harvestmen were recorded in all areas of the river trail except between 600 and 800 meters which makes up the open bog land section of the transect indicating that these insects may not thrive in such an environment perhaps due to exposure to the environment or predators.
Further surveys of both trails hope to identify many more species in the coming months. In addition we hope to mark further trails in the near future, including a trail along a road to measure the effects of disturbed areas compared to those not disturbed and an area of the dense forest in close proximity to a large cave.
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All the best
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