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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Borneo field course

As part of the MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and MSc Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics programmes, you will have the opportunity to learn skills used in practical field work. Hear what some of our students thought about the field course below.

Oliver Gaskin, MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (2019)

Danum Valley

Our field trip to the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Borneo was an amazing experience. During our time there we saw and heard an incredible variety of wildlife, from waking to the sound of gibbons in the morning to hearing the shouting of 6 o’clock cicadas every evening. In addition, the ecological sampling techniques we learned there will undoubtedly be an asset for the future. We sampled bats with harp traps and echolocation detectors, invertebrates using a variety of methods including malaise and pitfall traps, and a number of mammal species including a leopard cat using camera traps.

We also gained experience of handling and identifying the bats we caught using callipers, ID keys and guides. Furthermore, we learnt about the history of the area, the stark contrasts between the diverse dipterocarp forests and oil palm plantations, and the stages of deforestation that causes the former to transform into the latter. The field trip was one of the best I have ever been on due to the immersive learning environment, in one of the most pristine areas of the world’s remaining rainforest.

Adam Labuschagne, MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (2019)


The tropical ecology field course to Borneo was without a doubt the highlight of my year. Prior to starting this course, one of the primary influences on my decision to attend Queen Mary’s was the opportunity to travel to Borneo.

The trip provided many opportunities to develop a wide variety of skills that are useful for conducting field work in tropical forests. Furthermore, it exposed me to experiences and subjects that I wouldn’t normally focus on. For example, I had never possessed a great passion for invertebrates. However, this trip inspired a new love of insects and arthropods, and I was blown away by the diversity we saw in the forests at Danum.

The most enjoyable part of my trip was seeing Orangutans and Gibbons in their natural habitat. I was totally overwhelmed when, in a single day we saw - a pair of orangutans, a family of gibbons, two varieties of macaques and a troop of red leaf monkeys! As an avid fan of primates, I felt very privileged to see these animals up close.

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