Bornean rainforests: an incredibly diverse and poorly understood treasure. The rainforests of Borneo
are among the most species-rich habitats in the world. Listening to the sounds of these forests is
an incredible and overwhelming experience as gibbons, hornbills, tree frogs,
cicadas, and hundreds of other species advertise their presence. Our mission is to record and map these sounds
while we still can.
The forests of Borneo are
under incredible human pressure. The
giant dipterocarp trees that form much of the canopy are extremely valuable
timber for furniture and other uses worldwide, and logged-over native forests
are increasingly being converted to tree plantation and oil palm as the world
demand for pulp wood and palm oil increases.
Mapping and recording sounds of the rainforest. We begin this effort in pristine rainforest, where the
ecosystem is still intact. The sounds
that we record and map will serve as important reference information for many rarely
seen species inhabiting rainforest thickets and canopies. The information we collect will inform us
about animals in healthy rainforests, and will serve as an important starting
point for understanding the role of animal communication in this
ecosystem. Recent research has shown
that habitat alteration can dramatically influence an animal’s ability to
communicate with others of its kind to find mates, warn others of predators,
and maintain contact with young.
The music of the forest. Not only do the sounds of Bornean rainforests inform us
about the animals living there, but the sounds are incredibly beautiful, bizarre,
and even otherworldly. We believe that
the sounds have inherent aesthetic value that can be appreciated by both nature
lovers and music lovers alike.
Specifics. Our efforts will begin at Tawau
in Sabah, East Malaysia (Borneo). Tawau Hills Park is
a 30,000 ha reserve of rainforest in southeastern Sabah. It is a rare remnant of old Bornean forest
and home to the tallest tropical trees in the world: an ideal site for
gathering information on species in a pristine habitat. We have already recorded a series of sounds
within the park; from the ground. Our
next effort is to sample the canopy.
With trees reaching heights of nearly 90 meters (that is nearly 300
feet!), the sounds from the canopy are certainly different from those we hear
on the ground. With a team of
experienced climbers and recordists, we will ascend to the canopy at sites
throughout the park to record. Each
canopy recording will be paired with a recording from the ground for comparison
and mapped using a GPS unit and GIS. Ultimately, we aim to produce a map of rainforest sounds that would be widely available in programs such as Google Earth and OpenLayers. All
of our work is conducted in collaboration with local scientists and
conservationists in Borneo and our team will include people from the US and Malaysia.
Tangibles. The sounds we record will be identified to the lowest
taxonomic level possible and uploaded to borneanbirdconservation.org and other
sound-sharing sites such as xeno-canto.org.
The information we collect
will also be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at
professional conferences and to the general public.
Our goal in making the sounds freely available online is to
engage others with interests in the animals of the Bornean rainforests as well
as the music that they make. Much of the
animal life in Borneo is poorly
understood. By encouraging information-sharing
we hope to gain a better understanding of Bornean rainforest animals and how to
Where your money will go. Funds for this project will pay for equipment, travel, and
living expenses for a month-long expedition to Tawau
Sabah, East Malaysia (Borneo).