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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tasik Chini Fieldwork - Biodiversity

ARGH I MISSED OUT HER PHOTO DURING THIS TRIP!!! HOW COULD I???? It was the last session of the whole fieldwork so I kinda forgot, feeling that this series is lacked of something (boohoo). It was Assoc. Prof. Dr. Latifah (the birthday girl during the trip, hehehe) who is also the ex-head of Department of Environmental Management. It was unbelievable that she got a degree in Zoology while a master in Civil Engineering, that was really amazing!

Secretly took this photo during lecture as substitution, haha.
This was the session that I was reluctant to do. I know it is for research, for gaining knowledge, for obtaining experience by hands-on activity but still, I could not convince myself to do it without self-blaming. Maybe you will think that I overreact over this small stuff, but it actually mean a lot to me. I can produce another post about what I think on the preserving of insect specimens. So let's just focus on this fieldwork about biodiversity.

The sweeping net.
The pitfall trap.
The yellow tray.
Our main task for this fieldwork was to collect insect specimens, as many as we can. There were three methods that we used: The sweeping net, the pitfall trap and the yellow tray. The active part of the insect collecting is the sweeping net. Just like what we have seen before on TV, we carried a large white net which was made of fine materials to catch butterflies, i mean, insects, any insects would do. For the butterflies, after catching them, we crush their head with fingers then put them in paper envelope with their wings folded to protect their wings from being damaged. For other insects, they are put into a bottle with cotton wet with ethyl acetate to put them into forever sleep. On the other hand, pitfall trap and yellow tray are more passive as we just wait for careless insects to drop into the soap solution and drown. Pitfall trap consists of a container filled with some soap solution. The container is then being buries at ground level. The brightly-coloured yellow tray is placed at sunlit area to attract insects such as moths which tend to follow lights (for this fieldwork we got nothing in the yellow tray).
Looking up and down for insects.
Showing off the results of our hardwork.
To catch an insect especially those flying ones is a difficult job (even to spot one is hard). We have to be careful so that we do not harm the body of the insects as they are small and fragile. After we kill the insects, they should be pinned onto the polystyrene in a wooden specimen box using pin. The pin should pierce through the right thorax of the insect on a wooden crate first to make sure that the insect is fixed at the middle of the pin before transferring it onto the polystyrene. For insects which are too small to be pin, they are glued to a small piece of paper which is then pinned. The pinned insects are left to dry. So before that, we should adjust the poses of the insects so that they look alive instead of crooked.
Many species of grasshoppers from the order of Orthoptera.

A variety of bugs.
Bugs again. (I use the word 'bugs' because I am not sure about the species, even the common names)
Some butterflies from the order of Lepidoptera.
Surprisingly although we collected the insects at lake site, there were not many dragonflies (order of Odonata). And that indicated that the water quality was not very good. However we found quite a lot of skipper butterflies which flew low on the ground.
I was regretted for not identifying the names of the insects as soon as we collected them. We left the specimens for a few days and when I got back to the specimens I found that the colour of the butterfly wings was faded! They were brown and tattered that it was impossible to identify their species. The body of dragonflies is basically empty, maybe the flesh rotted or something else happened. The grasshoppers humped their back. All the insects were in terrible state. So terrible that I felt sorry for them that we did not really take them seriously.

Hope that I will not have to do it anymore. I prefer to use the capture and release technique. Insects are beautiful, with life inside their body.

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