Vietnam – Cambodia cooperation in insect taxonomy & A step further in the Entomodiversity of Cambodia (part I & II)
The 2016 project aims to start a new collaboration between the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) and the Vietnam National Museum of Nature (VNMN). It originates from the GTI project “A step further in the Entomodiversity of Vietnam”, started in 2010, and from the 2015 mission to Cambodia by Jérôme Constant to sample different typical habitats and train RUPP students to field collecting techniques, as well as giving a 2 day workshop on taxonomy, entomological collections, insect mounting techniques and identification at RUPP. A MoU was signed between RUPP and RBINS in 2015 as a result of this cooperation. Inside RUPP, Mr. Sophany Phauk has launched in 2014, with the help of colleagues and motivated students, the “Cambodian Entomology Initiatives” (CEI). The CEI collections were examined during the 2015 expedition and, even if still rather small-sized, it is done and managed very professionally. Finally, the Cicada specimens collected in Cambodia in 2015 are currently studied by H.T. Pham.
The colleagues of both VNMN and RUPP expressed the desire to work together under the auspices of a Belgian GTI project. It is believed that this could be an opportunity for all three institutions involved to better collaborate and provide better documented scientific results, especially in the distribution of the species as, at the moment, the Cambodian fauna is very poorly documented. It is also a great opportunity to promote South-South cooperation which will hopefully result into emulation and collaboration rather than competition. The collaboration with scientists from both Cambodia and Vietnam, if it gets supported further, is aimed at resulting into collaborative study in areas of transnational importance like the Mekong valley and the National Parks situated on both sides of the border.
As for the research/training in Cambodia, RBINS scientists along with their Cambodian partners (and VNMN in 2016) plan to develop the projects through two main components:
(1) Collecting, identifying and inventory of 7 target groups (i.e. Homoptera Cicadidae, Fulgoridae, Eurybrachidae, Heteroptera Pentatomidae, Phasmida, Lepidoptera Saturniidae and Coleoptera Rutelinae, Sericinae and Lucanidae) in:
All sites represent areas of high biodiversity potential and of high interest for understanding zoogeography and estimate species richness in two of the focus groups: stick insects and cicadas.
The training of the Cambodian staff members to some field collection techniques and to some identification routine (field taxonomy) will be given by Jérôme Constant, Joachim Bresseel and Pol Limbourg (with the help of H.T. Pham in 2016). 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. This will be of great importance for the further work of the RUPP colleagues.
(2) Improvement of the entomological collections, of the collections management and of the study of the material preserved in RUPP-CEI. Environmental conditions of the collections at RUPP-CEI will be assessed. One of the challenges will certainly be to curate and study the great amount of unmounted material which for sure contains a high number of new species.
The objective is to develop in RUPP 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. Exchange of voucher specimens between RBINS and RUPP (and VNMN) will accelerate the building of vast and useful reference collections in each institute.
Video about the Cambodian Entomology Initiatives (CEI) at the Department of Biology, Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Cambodia, founded in 2015 by a passionate group of researchers and students in Entomology
Poster illustrating different Rutelinae beetles from Cambodia (together with their male genitalia), prepared by Pol Limbourg and Jérôme Constant for the 2018 workshop at RUPP, entitled “Introduction to Insect Taxonomy: Hemiptera Fulgoroidea and Coleoptera Rutelinae from Cambodia”
Presentation on the origin, preliminary outputs and perspectives of the Cambodia GTI project (Jérôme Constant)
Presentation on the Lanternflies (Fulgoridae) of Cambodia (Jérôme Constant)