‘eighty years of promoting biodiversity conservation through taxonomic research, scientific training and international networks’

Harrison Institute, Centre for Biodiversity Research

Two of the young Darwin postgraduate students working on their taxonomic studies.

Taxonomic training in the classroom.

Field research, a collaborative study by Darwin students and scientists from Mandalay University of the bat diversity of Myanmar.


Taxonomic bird research by one of the Darwin trainees at the Natural History Museum, UK.




Enhancing taxonomic capacity to underpin tropical biodiversity conservation (SE Asia)

Host countries: Thailand, Cambodia, and Lao PDR

Outputs to date are summarised in the reports of 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-13 and in the final report.
Reports from the project are also included in the Darwin Initiative newsletter of 2012 and 2013.

Summaries of student outputs and publications are available as pdfs.

  • supervision and financial support of three students conducting PhD research on aspects of bat taxonomy (Pipat Soisook, Ith Saveng, Bounsavane Douangboubpha) at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Thailand and one student (Ms Ariya Dejtaradol) conducting PhD research on aspects of bat taxonomy at the University of Ulm, Germany.
  • supervision of four students (Ms Uraiporn Pimsai, Ngagyel Tenzin, Christopher Imakando, and Daosavanh Sanamxay) conducting their MSc research on SE Asian rodents
  • participation in programmes looking at rodents as vectors of diseases
  • participation in programmes organised by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, Thailand - see samples of reports
  • working with Dr Sansareeya Wangkulangkul and her Bhutanese student Tshering Nidup on developing training and research projects for amphibians and reptiles
  • working with Dr Vu Dinh Thong, Dr Moe Moe Aung and Dr Juliet Vanitharani for advanced studies in bat taxonomy and echolocation
  • one book chapter, nineteen papers and one editorial published in international journals (see Publications)
  • two articles outlining, inter alia, the scope and aims of the project published in 'Public Service Review: UK Science and Technology'
  • international workshops on bird and mammal diversity and conservation hosted at the Prince of Songkla University
  • hosting the First SE Asian International Ornithological Congress, which took place in Khao Lak, Thailand in November, 2012
  • Taxonomic Network launched
  • expanding our collaborative research and training programmes to work with biodiversity scientists in southern Africa, including Moses Chibesa from the Copperbelt University, Zambia and Dr Peter Taylor from Venda University, South Africa
  • additional support from SYNTHESIS
  • collaboration with Texas Tech University on a five year National Science Foundation grant on SE Asian bats (SEABCRU) with particular reference to taxonomy; hosting the second meeting of SEABCRU in Hat Yai, Thailand
  • promoting further taxonomic research and training linkages with a wide range of international institutions in Europe, North America, and Africa
  • international presentations about the work of the Taxonomic Network and the Darwin Project given in the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Zambia.

Project objective: To enhance taxonomic capacity in SE Asia by developing a university-based taxonomic training centre of international standard in Thailand and a regional taxonomic network with collaborating institutions in Cambodia and Lao PDR.

This will facilitate local scientists to:

  • identify and document the region's biodiversity (especially small mammals, birds, and amphibians)
  • advise on conservation priorities
  • monitor the effects of environmental change
  • assist with the enforcement of CITES
  • support environmental impact assessments.

Long term benefits of the project will be that:

  • there is in-depth local capacity to conduct taxonomic research and train a new generation of local students
  • training will be at a cost that is financially viable to students and their institutions in SE Asia
  • the centres of taxonomic expertise will be located in the biodiversity rich tropics
  • the training centres will be based at universities that host zoological research collections
  • a Taxonomic Network linking students and staff throughout the Afro-Asian tropical region will be launched.

Harrison Institute contact: Dr Paul Bates – pjjbates2@hotmail.com


In-country contacts: Associate Professor Dr Chutamas Satasook, Dean of Science, Prince of Songkla University – chutamas.p@psu.ac.th


Principal Funder: Darwin Initiative (DEFRA, UK Government - £189,895 for the period April, 2010 to October, 2013. Project Ref. No: 18002.