Start Date: January 2017,
Duration: Three Years
Grant: JRS Biodiversity Foundation
Project PI: Esther N. Kioko (PhD)
Senior Research Scientist and Head, Zoology Department, National Museums of Kenya,
i. Department of Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Sciences,College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University. Kampala, Uganda. Prof. Anne Akol Email: email@example.com
ii. National Museum and House of Culture,National Museum of Tanzania, , Dar es Salaam. Adelaide Sallema (MSc), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moths and butterflies (Order: Lepidoptera) provide vital ecosystem services as pollinators of both crops and wild flora. This project is digitizing collections in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania targeting Lepidoptera pollinator specimens. The target Lepidoptera collections held in the museums are being enhanced with specimens collected from the field. The target species are in three families, Sphingidae (hawkmoths), Hesperiidae (skipper butterflies) and Papilionidae (swallowtail butterflies). The field work focuses biodiversity hotspot localities, the Eastern Arc Mountains in Kenya (Taita hills forest), Tanzania (East Usambara forest) and Mabira forest in Uganda. Research is being done in the forests and the surrounding farmlands to capture the diversity in both landscapes.
The project is training on specimen collection techniques, species identification, curation and digitization and data publishing. The Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT), a free open source software tool used to publish and share biodiversity datasets through GBIF Network which is already in use in the region and is being used among others. Three regional workshops will held within the project period for the key partner institutions to develop a strong working collaboration and standard operating procedures for the project activities and to involve other key stakeholders especially the data users. As lack of knowledge and capacity in Lepidopteran pollinator biodiversity informatics and taxonomy are major constraints in the region, the project is building the capacity of technical staff in the region and training three young scientists at MSc. level.