A step further in the Entomodiversity of Vietnam
(part I – ongoing)
Although Vietnam is part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, its insect fauna is still extremely poorly documented, with an estimate of only 10–20% of the Vietnamese insect species being described so far. The situation is similar or even worse in neighboring countries including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. This lack of taxonomic knowledge and expertise was identified as the “taxonomic impediment” during the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This strongly hampers the work and decisions of conservationists, ecologists, biodiversity scientists, lawmakers, and many others who rely heavily on taxonomic information to manage, conserve, use, and share our biodiversity.
In general, the proposed GTI project aims to contribute to filling this gap by (i) providing taxonomic expertise in the study of several insect groups, (ii) providing training to Vietnamese colleagues in taxonomy both in the lab and in the field, (iii) providing species lists to the authorities of protected areas to help in their management, (iv) organizing symposia on taxonomy and insect diversity in Vietnam and (v) providing communication material on Vietnamese insect diversity.
More specifically, the project aims to develop knowledge and study Vietnamese entomofauna via two main axes:
(1) Collection, identification and inventory of several target groups (e.g., Hemiptera Cicadidae, Fulgoridae, Eurybrachidae, Heteroptera Pentatomidae, Phasmida, Lepidoptera Saturniidae and Coleoptera Rutelinae, Sericinae and Lucanidae) in:
Vietnamese members of the staff will receive training in some field collecting techniques and identification routines. All participants will be trained to general entomological collecting and to specific collecting of the groups studied by the other members of the staff in order to reach the best team-efficiency during fieldwork.
(2) Improvement of the entomological collections, of the collections management and of the study of the material preserved at the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR) and the Vietnam National Museum of Nature (VNMN). Environmental conditions, including insect pest management, as well as structural and staff organization, will be evaluated. If necessary, pragmatic solutions will be proposed, such as the purchase and installation of a great capacity freezer to allow preservation of unmounted material and disinfection of parasitized material (IEBR, 2011). One of the challenges will also be to curate and study the great amount of unmounted material which for sure contains a high number of new species. This issue will be evaluated and efforts will be made to rethink organization and working methods if necessary.
The objective is to develop in IEBR and VNMN a modern reference collection of national, regional and international importance, using the best international standards, and to provide material allowing state-of-the-art mounting and study of the specimens.
Video about the fieldwork and some preliminary results of the 2019 GTI project expedition to Chu Yang Sin National Park, based on footage taken by the GTI participants and posted on the RBINS Youtube channel
Policy Brief produced as a result of a GTI uptake meeting in Hanoi & Cuc Phuong National Park on the collaboration between entomologists from RBINS and VNMN (April 2017; download the report of the meeting here). The Policy Brief is aimed at promoting the cooperation between taxonomic researchers and managers of protected areas for a better integration of scientific data to improve the protection of Vietnam’s biodiversity. Besides RBINS and VNMN, international experts from Cambodia (Royal Phnom Penh University), France (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), and Italy (Natural History Museum) participated in the elaboration of the document.
Presentation about the Policy Brief
“ER WAS EENS/ONCE UPON A TIME”, a six-episode documentary series about RBINS and its scientists that was broadcasted by Canvas (VRT) in 2018 (this GTI project was promoted in one of the episodes)
Poster prepared to be sent to relevant authorities/National Parks illustrating, amongst others, the entomofauna that has been described based on material previously sampled in the park/reserve; this poster, as well as others, is aimed to be presented at the visitors centres to raise awareness about biodiversity and the importance of the protected areas for the conservation of local, unique species
Presentation about the origin and progress of this Vietnam GTI project
Slide show of an expedition to the Ba Vi National Park
Presentation on taxonomic and entomological research that was used as teaching material
Short film from the field showing a female stick insect laying an ootheca (i.e., a complex egg case)