Raffles Bulletin of Zoology

Visiting Scientist(s) Feature: Mammalogist Edition

In this feature, we give a short summary of the work of two mammalogists that have visited the museum a while back.

Mr. Lim Tze Tshen

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Mr. Lim at his workstation in the LKCNHM research lab. Photo by Clarisse Tan.

Mr. Lim Tze Tshen is a research associate at the University of Malaysia, focusing on biodiversity conservation and vertebrate palaeontology.

As a palaeontologist, Mr. Lim studies fossils, from common ones such as the fossils of wild pigs, to rare ones like gibbon fossils.

Last year, a gibbon fossil that is estimated to be around half a million years old was found in Peninsula Malaysia. It was initially difficult to identify, but they were able to identify it as a gibbon fossil by comparing one intact tooth present in the fossil with existing gibbon dental records.

But there is another question – what species of gibbon is it?

In order to answer this question, Mr. Lim was here to examine the morphology of gibbon skulls in the Zoological Reference Collection (ZRC), and compare it to the gibbon fossil, in order to identify its species. During his 4-day visit, Mr. Lim examined around 120 gibbon skulls from the ZRC, and found the answer to the mystery. We wish Mr. Lim all the best for his next fossil adventure.

 

Dr. Alexander Balakirev

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Dr. Balakirev at his workstation in the LKCNHM research lab. Photo by Clarisse Tan.

Dr. Alexander Balakirev is a mammalogist from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, with a research focus on small mammals such as treeshrews and rodents.

Why small mammals in particular? Dr. Balakirev jokes that as he does not have the sharp eyesight to peer at tiny insects and extremely good physical endurance to chase after large animals such as wolves, research on small mammals is just the right fit for him.

During his visit here, Dr. Balakirev examined the morphology of over 100 treeshrew specimens from the Zoological Reference Collection (ZRC), as part of his research on treeshrew specimens from Vietnam. Dr. Balakirev mentioned plans to return to do more work on our mammal collection, and we certainly look forward to hosting him again.

 

P.S. Dr. Balakirev, along with two other co-authors, recently published a research paper in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, describing a new species of marmoset rat from southern Vietnam (click here to read).

Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 2016 Supplement No. 33 out: Distribution of and conservation priorities for Bornean small carnivores and cats

The second Raffles Bulletin of Zoology supplement from the 1st Borneo Carnivore Symposium (BCS): Road Towards Conservation Action Plans held at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia in June 2011 is now available. Supplement No. 33: Distribution of and conservation priorities for Bornean small carnivores and cats follows RBZ Supplement No. 28 published in 2013.

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This supplement provides a road map for better protection of Borneo’s cats and small carnivores that are threatened by habitat loss, illegal hunting and fires. Majority of the papers are multi-author works by a team of international researchers lead by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Species Survival Commission.

Fifteen small carnivoran and five wild cat papers present the predicted distribution of these 20 Bornean small carnivorans and cats from the analysis of collaborative field data. This includes rare and threatened species such as the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps), Hose’s civet (Diplogale hosei), and otter civet (Cynogale bennettii). Additional papers discuss zooarchaeology and carnivoran conservation planning on Borneo by identifying key carnivoran landscapes, research priorities, and conservation interventions.

Dr. Andreas Wilting, scientist at the IZW and lead editor of this supplement sums up the project, “The goal of the BCS was to understand better the distribution and conservation needs of Bornean cats and small carnivores and subsequently, to enable targeted conservation efforts to those carnivores which are most threatened. We achieved this goal through a collaborative effort of the Borneo Carnivore Consortium, a network of more than 60 national and international scientists, conservationists and naturalists working on Borneo.”

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Binturong from Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah. Photo by A. Mohamed / IZW, SFD.