UWICE Hosts First - Ever Training to Document Bhutanese Bird Biodiversity

News | Posted on 2013-12-04

Deep in the tropical forests of Manas, in southern Bhutan, a group of educators and environmental officials lifted their binoculars into the tree canopy, laptops ready to record what they saw.

No one knows exactly how many species of birds call Bhutan home, or how those species are adapting to changes in the climate and their environment. But two things are clear: Bhutan is a global hotspot for biodiversity. And biodiversity provides extensive environmental and social benefits. That’s why UWICE recently brought together teachers, environmental officers and officials from the Department of Forests and Park Services for two weeks of training on Measuring and Monitoring Mountain Biodiversity (M3B) for birds at the Manas Park Range, RMNP.

"Foreign experts estimate that Bhutan hosts about 770 species of birds, but country records reflect only 688,” says Sherub, a UWICE researcher who organized the training program with Dr. Ellen Cheng, the campus research scientist. “This training program will help establish a credible scientific baseline. Once we understand fully the species that call Bhutan home, we can monitor changes to their population and habitat."

The bird survey is part of a larger training program on biodiversity monitoring, according to Dr. Cheng. "UWICE is addressing climate change by increasing the capacity of Bhutan’s scientific and educational communities to use both theoretical and practical approaches to monitor biodiversity in terrestrial and aquatic habitats of our mountain ecosystems."

UWICE will repeat the bird trainings and support data collection over time to determine the impact of climate change. In addition, the Institute will offer a related training focused on plants in 2014 along with other themes to be scheduled.

In the two-week training completed on 29th November 2013, participants learned field data collection, statistical analyses and interpretation, and effective communication of the results.  In the field, participants got their shoes muddy while they practiced identifying birds by songs and calls, mist netting, occupancy surveys and point counts.

Read more about biodiversity in Bhutan and coverage of the M3B training in The Bhutanese.