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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: mammals (13)

Preparing for Sulawesi fieldwork

Author
by Kevin Rowe
Publish date
13 February 2013
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Comments (3)

Kevin is our Senior Curator of Mammals. He investigates the systematics, evolution and conservation biology of mammals with a particular interest in rodents.

Greetings from Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (the national zoological museum of Indonesia) in the Indonesian province of Jawa Barat (West Java). This week my colleagues and I are preparing for our expedition to the island of Sulawesi. As always, I am hosted by my friend and collaborator, Anang S. Achmadi, curator of mammals at MZB.

In addition to packing gear, I need to visit several government offices this week to obtain travelling permits. On Monday, I reported to the Indonesian office of research permits, RISTEK, in Jakarta.

Kevin Rowe with RISTEK team in Jakarta Kevin C. Rowe (fifth from left) and Anang S. Achmadi (third from left) with the RISTEK team in their Jakarta office on Monday, 11 February.
Image: Jacob Esselstyn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

RISTEK is my official sponsor while I am in Indonesia and they approved my proposed research prior to my departure from Melbourne. On Monday RISTEK provided letters of support to take to Imigrasi (Immigration), Polri (National Police), and Dalam Negeri (Ministry of Home Affairs). Each of these offices will provide documents to allow our travel in Indonesia on research activities.

Man in office Anang S. Achmadi reviews the permit procedures at the Polri office in Jakarta.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On Monday, we successfully submitted our paperwork at both Imigrasi and Polri (Polri PICS). This is my fourth trip to Indonesia for research and the improvement in efficiency over this time has been dramatic. Imigrasi and Polri have seen major renovations and the experience this year is remarkably stress free.

On Tuesday, I moved to Bogor (about an hour south of Java) to work at the museum with Anang while Imigrasi and Polri process my paperwork. Here Anang and I inventoried our gear and reviewed specimens to help us with identifications in the field.

Kevin outside MZB, Jakarta Kevin in front of Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria

Kevin holding rat specimen Kevin examines a specimen of the spiny, lowland Sulawesi shrew-rat, Echiothrix centrosa, collected in 1975 and held in the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense collection. The species has hardly been seen since, and is a primary target for the expedition.
Image: Anang Achmadi
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Wednesday I returned to Jakarta and collected my travelling documents from Imigrasi and Polri. I also visited Dalam Negeri to apply for my travelling permits from their office. By Friday, my paperwork should be complete and Anang and I will fly to the city of Palu in Sulawesi Tengah (central Sulawesi) where the next stage of our expedition begins.

The team are sending us daily GPS coordinates to let us track their progress on a Google map of the expedition.


View Sulawesi Field Team in a larger map 

MV scientists head back to Sulawesi

Author
by Kevin Rowe
Publish date
7 February 2013
Comments
Comments (3)

Kevin is our Senior Curator of Mammals. He investigates the systematics, evolution and conservation biology of mammals with a particular interest in rodents.

I'm about to depart on the next expedition to the high mountains of Sulawesi along with MV Ornithology Fellow Karen Rowe, and MV Collection Manager of Terrestrial Vertebrates Wayne Longmore. We'll be surveying birds, rodents, bats and shrews, in areas virtually unknown to science.

Anang Achmadi Kevin Rowe in montane forest on the island of Sulawesi.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria

Karen Rowe Karen Rowe conducting fieldwork in lower montane forest on the island of Sulawesi.
Image: Peter Smissen
Source: Museum Victoria

Wayne Longmore N. Wayne Longmore with a Sulawesi Kingfisher (Ceyx fallax) in lowland rainforest.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

An evolutionary cross-roads between Australia and Asia, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is home to mostly endemic species (those found nowhere else) and its mix of dense equatorial rainforest and mountain peaks of some 3,000 metres lends a profusion of life rarely seen worldwide.

Our primary target on the coming expedition is Mount Sojol on Sulawesi's northern peninsula. We know from observational bird surveys that vertebrate diversity is probably quite high, but there have been virtually no specimens collected from this part of Indonesia. Like many mountains on Sulawesi, only the local people really know what is there.

However, before we can start any surveys there's a lot to do. This week the team is packing equipment and supplies needed to collect and preserve specimens. On Saturday, I fly to Jakarta.

I'll spend my first week in Indonesia completing visa and permit paperwork with visits to several government offices. Between paperwork, I will prepare supplies and examine specimens with collaborators at Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (the national zoological museum of Indonesia).

Once the paperwork is complete, I will fly to Palu, Sulawesi and will travel 200 km up the Trans-Sulawesi Highway to the village of Siboa. From Siboa, my collaborators and I will meet with local people including the village head, or kepala desa, to obtain their support and approval. With the help of local guides we will hike into the mountains where we will spend a week searching for suitable field camps. Karen, Wayne, and other collaborators from the USA will meet me in Palu after a week of completing their own paperwork in Jakarta. They will make the trek into the forest camp and begin the process of surveying the unique birds and mammals of Mount Sojol, Sulawesi.

In the sixth week, we will all return to Palu to share the results of the inventory with the Indonesian Department of Forestry before flying back to Jakarta. There we'll spend a final week packing specimens and obtaining permits to export the specimens to Australia where they will join the state collection at Museum Victoria.

The Sulawesi research trip is part of a multi-year project supported by the National Geographic Society, the Australian Pacific Science Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Hugh D T Williamson Foundation that includes key research partners Museum Victoria, the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (National Museum of Indonesia), the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, and McMaster University. The multi-national team comprises Canadian, American, Australian and Indonesian researchers.

The team's announcement that they had discovered a remarkable new rodent genus – an almost toothless, worm-eating rat, Paucidentomys vermidax – made international headlines last year.

Paucidentomys vermidax New genus and species, Paucidentomys vermidax
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria

Skull of P. vermidax Skull of new genus and species, Paucidentomys vermidax, the first rodent discovered with no molars.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
  

Wild record-breakers

Author
by Wayne
Publish date
1 July 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

 Your Question: Animals break records too?  Really?

"I love the exhibition Wild: Amazing Animals in a changing World and wanted to know more about birds and mammals, and the amazing things they can do."

It is true, animals break records too, but not in the same way Olympians do, or those fighting for recognition in the Guinness Book of Records. Below are some interesting facts about birds and mammals, some of which you can see in the exhibition.

What mammals or birds have the…

Fastest heartbeat – Hummingbirds.  Hummingbirds are native to North and South America and are the little birds that hover mid air.  They are also the only bird that can fly backwards.

Detail of hummingbird case Detail of a hummingbird on display in the Wild exhibition.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Fastest runner – the Cheetah. Unlike other big cats, the Cheetah has blunt claws that cannot be retracted. 

Fastest swimmers – Penguins. Penguins spend their life half on the land and in the water.

Fastest flyers – Pigeons are the fastest straight line flyers, but falcons are the fastest flyers overall, so falcons can hunt pigeons!

Slowest heartbeat – the Blue Whale.  Blue Whales can be up to 27 metres long.  You can see the articulated skeleton of a Blue Whale outside the entrance to the Science and Life Gallery.

Slowest mover – Sloths. There are both Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths found in tropical South America.

Maned Three-toed Sloth Maned Three-toed Sloth, a mounted mammal specimen in the Wild exhibition.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Tallest – the Giraffe. There are nine subspecies of giraffe, and Africa is the only place where they can be found naturally. 

Shortest – a shrew. Shrews are small mouse-like carnivorous mammals with (proportionally) long pointed noses.

Longest gestation – the African Elephant. A female African Elephant is a cow and her young a calf.

Shortest gestation – the Opossum. The gestation period of the opossum is between 12 and 14 days. 

Didelphis virginiana, Virginia Opossum mounted mammal specimen A mounted Virginia Opossum specimen from the Wild exhibition.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Found in the most places across the world – humans! 

Most endangered – This one is difficult to answer. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources produces the Red list of Threatened Species. It is a globally-recognised comprehensive tool that records the conservation status of plants and animals and Museum Victoria used the Red List when recording the status of animals in the exhibition.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

WILD: Amazing Animals in a changing World

IUCN Red List

Collecting mammal specimens

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
27 March 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

In their previous video, Dr Karen Rowe and Dr Karen Roberts reported the results of their mammal surveys of Wilsons Prom. They joined other MV scientists and Parks Victoria staff for the the rapid biodiversity survey, Prom Bioscan, of October 2011.

In this video, Karen and Karen talk about their work with the Mammology Collection at Museum Victoria and why the museum collects mammal specimens.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Links:

View all Prom Bioscan blog posts

MV Animal Ethics Procedures

Mammalogy Collection

Small mammals at Wilsons Prom

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
16 January 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

In October 2011, 50 scientists and volunteers performed a rapid biodiversity survey of Wilsons Promontory in partnership with Parks Victoria. In this video, Dr Karen Rowe and Dr Karen Roberts talk about the mammals of Wilsons Prom, particularly the small mammals: native rats and antechinus.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Links:

Prom Bioscan

Paradise Valley

Historian at the Prom

Hunting for herpetiles

Crayfish climbing trees

The mammals of Sulawesi

Author
by Kevin Rowe
Publish date
6 January 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

Kevin is the Senior Curator of Mammals at Museum Victoria. He reports on his recent expedition to the mountains of Sulawesi, Indonesia in this series of blog posts.

I recently returned from an expedition into the heart of Sulawesi's central mountain forests. Shrouded in the cool moisture of clouds, these forests appear to be made of moss erupting from the ground. Halfway between Asia and Australia, the native species on this island are neither Australian nor Asian but a unique mix of lineages from the two great continents.

Cloud forest of Sulawei The mountain rainforest of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Together with Anang S. Achmadi, Curator of Mammals from the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (the national museum of Indonesia) and a team of local guides, I hiked two days from the rice fields of Mamasa to a field camp at 2600 m in the mountains above.

the Sulawesi expedition team The Sulawesi expedition team.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

campsite in Sulawesi Base camp for the Sulawesi expedition.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Led by our local guides, including 84 year-old village-elder, Pak Daud, we encountered a pristine, primordial forest rich in biodiversity. Streams dissect the plateau spreading the daily afternoon showers across the landscape and to the fertile rice fields in the valleys below. The endangered mountain anoa (a pygmy water buffalo found only in the mountains of Sulawesi) run in large numbers, bear cuscus (relatives of Australia's brushtail possums) climb through the tree tops, dozens of orchid and pitcher plant species cling to the moss that covers everything, and a diverse assemblage of rodents survive in large numbers. We came in search of these rodents found nowhere else on earth, but which may help us understand the relationship between Australia's native rodents and Asia's.

hiking in Sulawesi Hiking through mountain terrain in Sulawesi.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Over three weeks of surveys in these remote forests, we detected 34 species of small mammals (< 1 kg), a healthy number for any forest. Consider that there are about the same number of small mammals across the entire State of Victoria. The rodents in these mossy mountain forests are characterised by a range of morphological oddities, such as giant woolly rats, Eropeplus, small arboreal mice, Haeromys, spiny rats, Maxomys, tiny arboreal squirrels, Prosciurillus, large terrestrial squirrels, Hyosciurus, and a collection of shrew rats that, like shrews, specialise on eating invertebrates. These shrew rats include two species of the soft-furred Tateomys and one species of the short-legged Melasmothrix.

Rodents of Sulawesi. Rodents of Sulawesi. Left: small arboreal mouse Haeromys montanus. | Right: giant woolly rat Eropeplus canus
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Two species of shrew rats from Sulawesi Two species of shrew rats from Sulawesi. Left: Tateomys rhinogradoides | Right: Tateomys macocercus
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We also detected two shrew rat genera that have not been seen since the 1970s including three individuals each of the puppy-faced Crunomys and the rare, worm-eating, gangly-legged Sommeromys, previously known from a single specimen.

Two genera of shrew rats from Sulawesi. Two general of shrew rats that were found for the first time since the 1970s. Above: Crunomys sp. | Below: Sommeromys sp.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

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