Observations in the Empty Quarter & A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar.

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The purpose of this report is to publish and make freely available all scientific data collected by the British Exploring Society expedition to Oman, with the intention that this be used to further scientific understanding and conservation, and
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    Empty Quarter Expedition Oman 2013 Observations in the Empty Quarter & A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar  Photo by Lawrence Ball     Contents Abstract 2 Overview 2 Expedition Science report 2 British Exploring Society 2 Expedition location 3 Expedition Objectives 3 Anglo-Omani Collaboration and Acknowledgements 4 Introduction 5 Expedition Science Overview 5 Zoogeography 6 Climate 6 The Dhofar Mountains 6 Wadi Sayq 7 Research Papers 11 1.0   Bird Observations in the Empty Quarter 11 2.0   A Camera Trap Survey in the Empty Quarter 14 3.0   A Pitfall Trap Survey in the Empty Quarter 19 4.0   Actinic Light Trap Survey in the Empty Quarter 23 5.0   Opportunistic Observations in the Empty Quarter 25 6.0   Plant Diversity in the Empty Quarter, Oman 30 7.0   Plant Diversity Assessment of the Al Hashman Oasis 32 8.0   Lithic Artefacts from the Empty Quarter 34 9.0   Evaluation of Bird Species in Wadi Sayq 40 10.0   The   Status of the Mammal Fauna in Wadi Sayq, Dhofar Governorate, Oman 53 11.0   An Inventory of Herpetofauna in Wadi Sayq 61 12.0   A Rapid Assessment of Bat Species in Wadi Sayq using Echolocation Detection 70 13.0   Sherman Trapping in the Empty Quarter and Wadi Sayq 79 14.0   An Inventory of Butterfly Species from Wadi Sayq 86 15.0   An Inventory of Dragonfly Species from Wadi Sayq 93 16.0   Plant Diversity in a Dhofarian Wadi 101 17.0   Conservation Implications 105 Conclusions 108 Further Reading –  Online Resources 110 Photo by Lawrence Ball  2 Abstract The Sultanate of Oman is a unique land in the Arabian Peninsula, home to mankind for millennia. Despite Oman’s largely arid and formidable terrain, it is home to a surprising diversity of flora and fauna. The people of Oman are also in a unique position to preserve and protect this biodiversity, indeed over the last few decades the government of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has possessed remarkable foresight. “Oman has come late into the development race. We who come after can learn from the mistakes  of those in front. We therefore have a considerable advantage, and if we use it properly we will surely come out into the lead. If not, we shall forever remain behind. Good planning for any project must be based on an intimate knowledge of the facts. To plan the meaningful development of Oman we need to understand the details of our natural surroundings just as we must know the facts about our finances, or any other function on Government. We must be aware of and understand the natural living processes of the ecosystems around us upon which we, and all mankind, depend for our continued existence upon earth.”    Foreword by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Sultan of Oman, Journal of Oman Studies, 1977. It was the privilege of this British Exploring Expedition to receive an invitation to contribute to the understanding of Oman’s natural heritage. The expedition represented an unrivalled opportunity to explore a remote and unique region whilst undertaking valuable scientific research. Expedition Science report The purpose of this report is to publish and make freely available all scientific data collected by the British Exploring Society expedition to Oman, with the intention that this be used to further scientific understanding and conservation of this unique and vulnerable ecosystem, and facilitate collaboration between British and Omani scientists. The British Exploring Society The British Exploring Society is the UK’s leading youth development charity. Based at the Royal Geographical Society, London, it was founded in 1932 by Surgeon Commander Murray Levick, a member of Captain Scott’s last Expedition. The Society has since led numerous expeditions to remote locations around the world. “The object of the Society is to advance the education of young people by providing inspirational and challenging scientific expeditions to remote, wild environments and so promote the development of their confidence, teamwork, leadership and spirit of adventure and exploration.”  British Exploring uses the under lying principal of ‘adventure with purpose’ to facilitate youth development through challenging scientific research expeditions. Early expeditions obtained specimens for the collections at the British Museum and mapped previously unexplored areas of  3 the globe. In recent decades the society has collaborated with a range of scientific institutions from universities to conservation organisations and Government authorities. Expedition location The expedition was in the field from the 15 th  January to the 10 th  March 2013. The first two weeks were spent about 9km north of Al Hashman, Dhofar Province, on the edge of the Empty Quarter desert. Here science work was undertaken aiming to explore the dune systems, record archaeological specimens and to undertake surveys to record the flora and fauna. The expedition then travelled south, establishing a base camp at Khor Kharfot, the beach at the mouth of the Wadi Sayq. Here the main objective was to undertake a rapid biodiversity assessment of the wadi system. Additional outcomes included engaging with the local community, presenting to local schools and collaborating with and training Omani field rangers and ministry staff. The geography and ecology of these regions is unique, and of great importance to conservation in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. Expedition Objectives    To add to the knowledge base provided by the 2012 British Exploring Expedition to Oman    To conduct a study of the biodiversity of the Wadi Sayq ecosystem    To record archaeological specimens    To facilitate Anglo-Omani collaboration towards conservation in Oman.  4 Anglo-Omani Collaboration The success of this expedition is indebted to the leadership of Soo Redshaw, and close collaboration between organisations and individuals from Oman and the UK, most importantly the hard work of the Oman Leaders, Explorers and Members. Our key contact was Dr Mansoor Al Jahdhami, Head of Research Office for Conservation of the Environment, Diwan of Royal Court. We are grateful in particular for his assistance in providing the necessary documentation to allow the expedition team to understand scientific research. Thank you also to Ali Salim Bait Said, Dr Andrew Spalton, Hadi Al Hikmani , Waheed Al Fazari, Khalid Al Hikmani and staff of the Office for Conservation of the Environment, Dr Jeff Rose, Dr Annette Patzelt, Dr Darach Lupton, Ghudaina al Issai and staff of the Oman Botanic Gardens, Staff of the Oman Natural History Museum and Staff of OIG (Oman International Group) for their involvement and assistance with various aspects of the expedition. Numerous other Omanis were closely involved with the expedition, in particular, highly knowledgeable rangers, students and local people. In addition to scientific matters, all members of the expedition highly valued the close level of cultural exchange that continued throughout the expedition and greatly increased its value to all involved. Acknowledgements Thank you to the Anglo-Omani Society, Shell Development Oman LLC and the Sandy and Zorica Glen Charitable Settlement for their generous financial support. Also, a great thank you to Dr Terence Adams for his advice and financial support for the expedition. Anglo-Omani Society Shell Development Oman LLC
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