Sumernet

Coming back to life

The collaborative study of small wetlands research team conducted the first of three surveys of small wetlands in Yok Don National Park in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in Northern Cambodia.

The study focuses on wetlands in dry dipterocarp forests, where deciduous hardwood trees from the Dipterocarpaceaefamily drop their leaves in the dry season. Unlike the deciduous forests of New England in the United States, these trees lose their leaves not in response to cold, but to limited water. This kind of ecosystem can be found across Cambodia, Central Vietnam and Southern Laos, and the wetlands in dry dipterocarp forests usually expand then dry up with the changing seasons.

The team spent a week in Vietnam forest looking for fishes in dry wetlands, but the lack of water was part of the point. We wanted to know which fish could survive Southeast Asia’s dry season in this kind of extreme habitat. FISHBIO has teamed up with an interdisciplinary group of researchers and graduates students from Vietnam and Cambodia to investigate the value of ecosystem services provided by small wetlands in dry open forests. With funding from the SUMERNET program, this project seeks to answer questions about small, seasonal wetlands in hopes of informing management and development decisions.

This survey provided an opportunity to sample during the transition period between dry and wet seasons, after initial rains have started to fill pools in the wetlands, and plants and frogs are beginning to emerge. It was hard to believe that just a few weeks before we arrived, the lush green forest we walked through had been a dry, brown grassland where the trees had no leaves. This dynamic ecosystem experiences an explosion of growth in a relatively short time frame.

Please read more in this external weblink to the regional wetlands project update.