This month we had the first field visit of our new NERC-funded consortium project, BALI (Biodiversity and Land Use Interactions), together with its sister project (aptly names LOMBOK). This visit brought together a range of the principal investigators of the project. We first met up with local collaborators at the University of Malaysia in Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu, and the Forestry Research Centre (FRC) in Sepilok. Then we took flights out to Tawau and headed out to the field camp of the SAFE project, which will form the core of the proposed work.
Our aim is to explore our biodiversity, biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem function interact along a gradient of disturbance ranging from old-growth rainforest (at Maliau Basin and Lambir Hills), through forests that have been logged at various intensities (the SAFE project) through to oil palm plantations. We will explore the role of biodiversity in four groups: trees, termites, ants and myccorhizal fungi (plus soil microbes in general), and the work will be centred on the GEM intensive monitoring plots that my team have installed and been operating for several years.
The project is new, different from anything I have done before, and it will be exciting to learn so much more from colleagues in such a broad consortium.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University