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KOTA KINABALU, June 19 — Overshadowed by majestic elephants and charismatic orangutans, the insects of Borneo do not often get the credit they deserve.
But Jack Devlin, an entomologist studying the critters in the heart of Sabah, knows that they are just as vital as the megafauna and he is doing his part to ensure that they get the proper recognition.
“Insects are super important to any ecosystem. Without them, the forests cannot evolve and Borneo is a hotspot for insects. You can find 1,000 species on just one tree,” said the Cardiff University researcher.
Devlin is featured in the latest episode of a new webseries — Borneo Jungle Diaries — about Sabah’s wildlife and the people who are invested in it.
A specialist in arthropods, invertebrates with jointed legs that make up about 75 per cent of all creatures on Earth, Devlin said that mammals, birds and larger reptiles have dominated studies but more interest was needed for invertebrates and plants.
From bugs that glow in the dark, to moths with a two-week lifespan and scary-looking tarantulas, Devlin takes the show’s host — Aaron “Bertie” Gekoski — on a tour of Sabah’s bug kingdom.
“There are so many unique species here like lantern bugs and giant stick insects. My most wonderful experience was finding one of the world’s largest insects — Phobaeticus serraptis, a giant stick insect species found at the Danau Girang Field Centre,” he said.
Devlin’s next project is to see whether his subject has adapted to the logging in their habitat of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Other studies have shown forest fragmentation to have a negative effect on arthropod populations, but more work is needed, because of the sheer diversity found here and across Sabah.
“This project will identify any arthropods that are thriving in this modified habitat, creating a catalogue of arthropod diversity and density, from which conclusions can be drawn as to the health and suitability of the forest for higher taxonomic groups,” he said.
All episodes of Borneo Jungle Diaries are available online and will have Bahasa Malaysia subtitles.
Viewers stand the chance to win a four day / three night stay the Danau Girang Field Centre to see the wildlife diversity up close and personal. For more information, check out http://www.scubazoo.tv/borneo-jungle-diaries/