Taxonomic knowledge is essential for successful biodiversity management and conservation. In Afromontane ecosystems, invertebrates face a taxonomic impediment, with many species unknown and few or no scientists available with taxonomic expertise. It is imperative that invertebrate collections, knowledge, and capacity be built to bridge this taxonomic gap. The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) will lay the foundation for this bridge through invertebrate surveys, training of young scientists, and the creation of a new database and identification tools. Data collection will focus on pollinators and freshwater invertebrates in some of the highest mountains in Africa, with the goal of mobilizing data and knowledge for decision makers involved in water resource development and climate change impact decisions.
Six students will be trained in biological data collection and research methods through both field and lab work. Survey techniques will utilize trapping and selective hunting on plants, with barcoding performed to allow for biodiversity comparisons between mountains at a regional level. Surveys in these areas are expected to yield the documentation of a considerable number of new species. The data collected for each identified species will be digitized and include altitude, habitat, abundance, and relationships with flowering plants. Outputs include regional species distribution lists and the following taxonomically accurate montane biodiversity dataset targets:
Tanzania (Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru): 20,000 data records
Neema Kilimba is working as a Research Officer with TAWIRI based in Arusha, Tanzania. She is a holder of Masters of Science in Ecology from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Her specialty is ecology and entomology, mainly pollinators and fresh water insects.