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Irene Christianus

Doctoral Researcher

I have always been fascinated by the natural world and that fascination has deepened over the years. This interest led me to undertake my BSc (Hons) in Animal Resource, Science and Management at Universiti of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) where I learned valuable knowledge and skills in the management and conservation of indigenous faunal resources including insects, mammals, birds and herpetofauna. My final year project investigated the vertical distribution of night-flying insects in a peat swamp forest in Sarawak, and this began my lifelong interest in entomology. Later, I was offered a scholarship from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia (MOSTI) to undertake an MSc in entomology, where I began to work on the diversity and vertical stratification of geometrid moths in Kubah National Park Sarawak's mixed dipterocarp forest. After graduating, I began my career as an academic at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Reading under the Academic Training Scheme for Lecturers (SLAI) scholarship offered by Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

Research project - The effect of urbanisation on butterfly communities

Urbanisation is taking place globally and continues to increase over time. One key challenge for conservation is to understand how urbanisation affects biodiversity. Urbanisation can promote an increase in biodiversity, usually by the incorporation of exotic species or due to its high spatial heterogeneity. Despite this, urbanisation causes a decrease in species richness, with the lowest species richness found in the urban core. There is a large body of evidence about the detrimental effect of urbanisation on abundance, species richness and community composition in different groups, including butterflies. In my research, butterflies have been chosen as a flagship taxa because they are known to react sensitively to the effects of urbanisation and provide vital insights into the changing state of biodiversity and the ecosystem. The principal aim is to explore the patterns of species richness and abundance of butterfly fauna and to examine the butterfly host-plant and nectar resource availability in urban areas including inner-urban, sub-urban, peri-urban and non-urban areas. The paucity of knowledge about how butterfly communities respond to urbanisation and anthropogenic disturbance impedes the conservation effort of this group. Therefore, this research is timely, and aims to reduce these gaps by providing data on butterfly assemblages occurring within the four different habitat types.

Our project
Check out the details of our Urban Bird Conservation project to find out how you can take part.