New Snail Species Named After Climate Change Activist
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New Snail Species Named After Climate Change Activist

A new species of snail was discovered at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre (KBFSC) at the Ulu Temburong National Park by experts and citizen scientists who participated in a field course by the Netherlands-based organization called Taxon Expeditions.

The Netherlands-based organisation Taxon Expeditions held a field course in KBFSC for the second consecutive year, bringing researchers and citizen scientists to collect, study and identify specimens. Together, they discover, name and publish completely new species of wild animals.

Dr Menno Schilthuizen, co-founder of Taxon Expeditions led the field course with Dr Ferry Slik of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). At KBFSC, they were joined by researchers from the Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER) and the Environmental Life Science, Faculty of Science (FOS) from UBD. The field course participants which include local students and staff from UBD and the Forestry Department, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, are introduced to biodiversity survey techniques and conduct hands-on research on native flora and fauna at KBFSC. The field course is organised annually for people who are interested in nature and science, helping them to make scientific discoveries.

The new caenogastropod species from the family Caenogastropoda is named Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, in honour of the climate change activist Greta Thunberg. Caenogastropod snails are likely to suffer from climate change because they are more sensitive to drought, temperature extremes and forest degradation.

The new species discovery highlights the value of untouched wildernesses like the Ulu Temburong National Park as well as KBFSC as a high conservation value area, where there are still so many species yet to be discovered.

IBER places a special emphasis on the coordination of research, education and outreach activities at KBFSC. IBER research and educational projects focus on both terrestrial and marine biodiversity throughout Brunei Darussalam, as well as the interactions between biodiversity and its environment. All these opportunities further advance the growth of IBER and place its central importance for Biodiversity research in UBD.

IBER has expanded its biodiversity research thrust to include herbal and medicinal plant research projects at the UBD Botanical Research Centre (UBD BRC), which was officiated in 2018.

Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, a new species of Cyclophoridae (Gastropoda: Caenogastropoda), discovered and described on a field course to Kuala Belalong rainforest, Brunei Darussalam. Photo: Courtesy of Pierre Escoubas

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