Cambodian Entomology Initiatives
Cambodia comprises a very rich mosaic of biodiversity in the Indo-Burma region. It possesses many ecosystems and habitats, including the pristine remaining forest and the largest wetland systems in mainland Southeast Asia. Scientific research and studies in biodiversity of are needed to inform conservation planning by government and NGOs, but entomology is understudied by researchers and scientists. This poses a problem since insects, comprising much higher diversity and total biomass than vertebrates, constitute irreplaceable components of ecosystem processes and are thus vital for ecosystem health and functions.
Under the project “Biodiversity of Cambodian Leaf- and Treehoppers: Scientific Training and Education thought Development of Bioindicators and Agriculture Pest Control”, the Cambodian Entomology Initiatives (CEI) was created to enhance scientific training and education. The project is supported by USAID and collaborating with the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), University of Illinois, USA.
Goals of the project are to (1) establish and inventory a national entomological collection at the Department of Biology, the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), (2) document the species diversity of Cambodian insect fauna through education and research, and (3) identify the species of insects that are critical agricultural pests and develop tools for pest identification, management and control. Additional information about CEI is directed through this link.
To achieve these goals, CEI personnel received training in insect sampling and identification methods and established an ongoing insect inventory, focusing on leaf- and treehopper diversity in all habitat types. CEI will work closely with local and international NGOs, such as the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation at RUPP, for building research capacity in entomology. The first steps will be creation of a national entomology collection and training a next generation of Cambodian entomologists. CEI will provide biodiversity data for use in conservation and will also contribute to food security by identifying insect pests and control strategies.