Understanding one of Malaysia’s Conservation Hotspots to offer Guidance on Local Conservation Objectives


Funding Unsuccessful. This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on May 17, 2021.

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Background

Through research in PNP (Penang National Park), the expedition aims to conduct data collection focusing on the biodiversity of the park; investigating the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on various species. The team hope that the results of their research could guide future management practices and more specialised research.

Within our research there will be two primary focus areas on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance: on amphibian species biodiversity and abundance; and on the effects on fish species biodiversity and abundance in coastal mangrove forests. Sources of anthropogenic disturbance within the park include the nearby town and tourism in the local area. To the north-east border and main entrance to Penang National Park, lies the town of Teluk Bahan which is growing to accommodate a recent population boom and the increasing demand of the tourism industry. There are several paths throughout the park that lead to the primary tourist hotspots: Monkey Beach, Muka Head Lighthouse, Turtle Conservation Centre and the Meromictic Lake.

The first project will be investigating the presence of amphibian species in Penang National Park, including anura and caecilian species. The team will conduct studies of amphibian species in PNP through a variety of sampling techniques in order to have as representative a sample as possible from all habitats. It is thought that a range of amphibian species will be found and that microhabitat and sampling technique will influence species observed. Through investigating anthropogenic disturbance we will also determine if there is an effect on abundance and species observed due to tourism and urbanisation. The second project will focus on coastal mangrove ecosystems in Penang National Park and the species found within them. By looking at several sites frequented by tourists and those more remote we will investigate if anthropogenic disturbances and pollution is affecting these important sites. The overall aim of these projects is to provide research data on the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the species on the park which could be used to inform future management programmes and increase the knowledge of the scientific community in Penang National Park. The availability of this data may encourage and allow further specialised studies to be carried out in this national park.

Our Goals

Overall Aims:

  • To investigate species abundance and distribution in Penang National Park.
  • To investigate the effects of anthropogenic disturbance and urbanisation in Penang National Park
  • To improve and gain skills in scientific fieldwork techniques, organisation and fundraising for each individual team member.
  • To reinforce the established connection between The University of Glasgow and Universiti Sains Malaysia, primarily at USM Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies.
  • To immerse ourselves within a new community and culture through outreach programmes both in Glasgow and in Malaysia.

Amphibian Project Aims:

  • To create a comprehensive list of amphibian species found in Penang National Park
  • To survey a large variety of habitats using different surveying techniques
  • Compare species observed in relation to survey technique
  • Compare species observed along the urbanisation gradient and anthropogenic disturbance rate.
  • Review the current species list for Penang National Park in Malaysia and update where possible.
  • Review diversity and abundance indices.

Mangrove Fish Project Aims:

  • To create a comprehensive species list of coastal marine species found in the mangrove forests in Penang National Park.
  • To determine the negative effect of increased anthropogenic disturbance on coastal mangrove fish species biodiversity and relative abundance.
  • Review the current species list for Penang National Park in Malaysia and update where possible.

Why is this project Important?

This expedition will provide the following benefits:

To the team members… As STEM near-graduates, we will hugely benefit from the knowledge and skills we will gain through this expedition, which we will be able to take forward into each of our chosen career paths. Our field skills will be challenged and put us in excellent positions to undertake future scientific work. We will make contacts at CEMACS and gain the opportunity to assist on various research outputs.

To other people… This will also benefit both the University of Glasgow and Universiti Sains Malaysia, as we will be fostering the newly built relationship between these institutions. Through this, we can benefit researchers and future students of both institutions, who will be able to collaborate on various projects. We also hope that this project will benefit the local human communities on Penang, as we will be undertaking outreach work whilst there, working with local schools, providing them with education, and doing beach cleans.

To wildlife/ the environment… The data that we collect will feed back to the University of Glasgow and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Should the Malaysia Expedition be undertaken several years consecutively, we will build up a longitudinal dataset which can be used to assess how these populations alter as factors such as number of tourists and proximity to developments changes. Immediate benefit should also be provided, as our data should indicate whether there are any local populations which require drastic intervention in the form of conservation measures. Whilst in Malaysia, we will also assist on various conservation projects with CEMACS (such as coral reef restoration) which aim to assist nature and improve our understanding of its processes. We will also be conducting local beach cleans (both around the west coast of Scotland, should COVID-19 regulations permit, and on Penang), which should greatly benefit marine and coastal organisms and their ecosystems by removing plastic (and other) waste.

Potential Outcomes

The research we are undertaking will fill a major gap in knowledge. Therefore, we will be working toward having each of our investigations published. By compiling species lists and assessing the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, the data we collect could be used to guide nature conservation bodies to protect amphibians and mangrove fish species. It will also feed back to the University of Glasgow and Universiti Sains Malaysia, which will allow for longitudinal datasets should future students choose to return to CEMACS. We will also be carrying out outreach work, so hopefully local children will learn more about their local flora and fauna, leading to an interest in environmental protection.

Our budget

Use of facilities (laboratories etc.) and equipment (diving gear, fishing boats etc.), Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS): £1500

Our estimated total expenditure is £10 400, but we hope to raise it in many ways, not solely through Crowd.Science.

Our team

Amelie Frommel

I am co-leading the Malaysia Expedition 2021 along with my colleage Caitlin Lamb. I will be graduating from the University of Glasgow with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology summer 2021, and have been involved with the affiliated ‘Exploration Society’ for three years. Initially, I joined a research expedition to the Isle of Harris, where we lived remotely for a summer, collecting data on microplastics in otters, egg quality of waders, and abundance and flower preference of bumblebees. Having attended various field station stays based in marine ecology, I have gained a plethora of field skills. Additionally, I am currently completing my Honour’s research project investigating carbon cycling by herbivorous fish in the Mesoamerican Reef, using data collected by the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA).

Caitlin Lamb

I am one of the expedition’s co-leaders and in my final year at the University of Glasgow. Currently, I am on track to graduate in May 2021 with a BSc (Hons) in Marine and Freshwater Biology. I have been involved within Glasgow Universities Exploration society for two years now, helping in the planning and preparation for the 2021 Malaysia expedition specifically. I have volunteered for many charitable and environmental organisations such as the RSPB, participated in multiple research projects through my studies and previously spent two consecutive summers on different projects, promoting the importance of education in disadvantaged communities throughout Eastern Africa. I am currently looking into mapping the seabed of an MPA on the west coast of Scotland for my individual Honour’s research Project.

Anastasia Niemann

I am a B.S. and M.S.  marine and freshwater biology student at the University of Glasgow who is particularly interested in ecological processes within different ecosystems which have been heavily impacted by anthropogenic activity. I am a strong believer in gaining a diverse collection of experience within the marine sciences as it is important to be able to apply in depth and unique approaches to studying human ecological impact.  This has led me to volunteer for numerous seasons with the United States Geological Survey and to have taken part in a similarly run expedition to Trinidad last year.  My role on this research expedition to Malaysia is to coordinate part of the fundraising and to organise the part of the project involving data collection of Mangrove ecosystems on the island.

Jasmine Brown

I am a Marine and Freshwater biology student at the University of Glasgow, and I am the project leader for the Amphibian project on the Malaysia expedition. I am highly interested in anthropogenic disturbance and processes as these can affect all levels of ecology biology. Urbanisation is increasing all around the world, so I am interested in finding out the effects of this on ecosystems, focusing primarily on amphibians, as over 40% are now endangered. I have a particular interest in animals that function as ecosystem engineers; amphibians are an important link between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems so I think the research is incredibly interesting and important as anthropogenic activities affecting amphibians can affect the whole ecosystem through changes in nutrient cycling, invertebrate abundance, and predator dynamics.

Monica Tate

I study Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Glasgow but have always been passionate about Biology. I am in second year and I take Biology as my elective – so far focussing on cellular systems and specialisation and variation across organisms. Two years ago I conducted a field study in Akamas, Cyprus looking at primary and secondary succession. I carried out random sampling in a non-burned forest and a burned down forest and compared the two. I also carried out systematic sampling; spanning a transect line from the shore to the base of the cliffs inland. Our team’s trip to Malaysia focusses on two main projects; Amphibian Distribution and Coastal Mangrove Ecosystem and Anthropogenic Disturbance. One of our overall main aims of the trip is to investigate species abundance and distribution in the Penang National Park and I cannot wait to do so.

To thank you for your support

Pledge £5: our eternal gratitude.

Pledge £10: the above + your name will be included in our acknowledgements; everyone will know that you helped us get this project underway.

Pledge £20: the above + a copy of our report back (includes our studies’ findings and photographs) to allow you to fully visualise see what your donation has done for us.

Pledge £50: the above + the opportunity to join a zoom meeting to discuss our research, findings, and next steps.

Pledge £100: the above + weekly e-mail updates (when Wi-Fi allows!) whilst on expedition to include information on how the projects are coming along and photographs.

Pledge £200: the above + one of our team T-shirts!

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  • Backers

    Thank you so much for your support! You have our eternal gratitude + e-mail updates (when Wi-Fi allows!) whilst on expedition to include information on how the projects are coming along. 🙂

  • Backers

    the above + your name will be included in our acknowledgements; everyone will know that you helped us get this project underway.

  • 1 Backer

    the above + a copy of our report back (includes our studies’ findings and photographs) to allow you to fully visualise see what your donation has done for us.

  • Backers

    the above + the opportunity to join a zoom meeting to discuss our research, findings, and next steps.

  • Backers

    the above + a high quality photograph from the expedition that can be printed and framed alongside a personalised thank you note.

  • Backers

    the above + one of our team T-shirts!

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  1. Graeme Hewson
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General Overview

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.

  • Backers

    Thank you so much for your support! You have our eternal gratitude + e-mail updates (when Wi-Fi allows!) whilst on expedition to include information on how the projects are coming along. :)

  • Backers

    the above + your name will be included in our acknowledgements; everyone will know that you helped us get this project underway.

  • 1 Backer

    the above + a copy of our report back (includes our studies’ findings and photographs) to allow you to fully visualise see what your donation has done for us.

  • Backers

    the above + the opportunity to join a zoom meeting to discuss our research, findings, and next steps.

  • Backers

    the above + a high quality photograph from the expedition that can be printed and framed alongside a personalised thank you note.

  • Backers

    the above + one of our team T-shirts!