School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach


News

The items below give you some indication as to the range of activities going on in the School. For further information read our newsletter which comes out fortnightly during term time.

DICE alumnus leads new research on forest fire pollution and its effects on wildlife

28th September 2017

Article Image

Forest fires in South East Asia during the El Niño droughts of 2015 caused considerable disruption to the biodiversity of the region due to the smoke-induced 'haze' they created, according to new research led by Benjamin Lee and the National Parks Board in Singapore.

In the first study of its kind Benjamin, who completed his PhD at the DICE this year, monitored wildlife acoustic activity in Singapore before, during and after the major forest fires that hit the region in 2015.

The data showed there was a dramatic drop in acoustic activity by as much as 37.5% during the haze as animals were affected by the pollution. It took a further 16 weeks after the haze had dissipated before acoustic levels showed even a partial recovery.

Furthermore, the researchers said it is highly likely the damage to wildlife was even greater in locations closer to the fires, where air pollution levels were 15-times higher than those in Singapore.

Tropical Asia experiences fires and haze annually, which cause significant human health problems and economic damage across the region. The 2015 event was one of the worst on record.

The findings indicate that large-scale air pollution events, such as those caused by forest or peatland fires, have a far greater impact on biodiversity than previously thought and that preventing such events occurring is paramount.

Benjamin was assisted in his research by Dr Matthew Struebig and Dr Zoe Davies.

The paper, Smoke pollution disrupted biodiversity during the 2015 El Niño fires in Southeast Asia, has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

 

School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 20/01/2017