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Dr Russell Participates in Op Wallacea Madagascan Biodiversity Project

On Tuesday 19 July, Dr Malcolm Russell travelled to Madagascar to assist on a three week bio-diversity project in Madagasca being carried out by Op Wallacea

Operation Wallacea is a series of biological and conservation management research programmes that operate in remote locations across the world. These expeditions are designed with specific wildlife conservation aims in mind - from identifying areas needing protection, through to implementing and assessing conservation management programmes. What is different about Operation Wallacea is that large teams of university academics who are specialists in various aspects of biodiversity or social and economic studies are concentrated at the target study sites giving volunteers the opportunity of working on a range of projects. The surveys result in a large number of publications in peer-reviewed journals each year, have resulted in 30 vertebrate species new to science being discovered, 4 'extinct' species being re-discovered and $2 million levered from funding agencies to set up best practice management examples at the study sites.

The Operation Wallacea surveys are currently concentrating on dry forests and associated wetlands of Mahamavo in the North, and the spiny forest surrounding Ifotaka in the south, with a view to expanding the research to include humid forest in 2012.

In 2011 the Operation Wallacea teams will be completing a series of transects, covering the main protected forest areas and adjacent habitats. Data will be gathered on forest structure and communities of key taxonomic groups including birds, herpetafauna (chameleons and snakes) small mammals such as tenrecs, rodents and bats, and lemurs. The output from this work will be a report submitted to the Madagascar government and will provide a baseline against which changes can be assessed in future years. Malcolm will be providing medical cover during the project - he has gone equipped with his BGAN and will periodically send a blog so you can read about his experiences here.