UAE: Meet the Indian scientist who found 11 species of bugs – Information

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The discoveries of Dr. Saji show us that we still have a lot to learn about the biodiversity of the UAE: Sheikh Nahyan

An Indian scientist based in Abu Dhabi was awarded the prestigious Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Prize for discovering 11 species of insects.

Dr. Anitha Saji, a scientist at the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD), said insects are an important part of biodiversity and critical to ecological balance.

“We are losing our valuable biodiversity at an alarming rate due to climate change and habitat destruction. Researching and understanding insects can play an important role. It is important to understand our natural resources and biodiversity in order to prevent their destruction and ensure their conservation for future generations, ”she said.

Over the years, Dr. Saji conducted detailed studies of insect life in desert and protected areas of Abu Dhabi and discovered species new to UAE science and records such as ichneumon wasp (2007), bradynobaenid wasp (2007), cuckoo wasp (2014), gasterupiide wasp (2016 ), Dance fly (2016), spider wasp (2018), digger wasp (2019), bite mosquito (2021), etc.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence, recognized her efforts with the Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Prize 2021.

“The discoveries of Dr. Saji show us once again that we still have a lot to learn about the biodiversity of the UAE, ”said Sheikh Nahyan.

Established by Sheikh Nahyan almost 30 years ago, the award is presented annually by the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Natural History Group (ENHG) to a person who has made an original contribution to the knowledge of the natural history of the UAE.

In 2002, Dr. Saji joined the EAD and has since been engaged in invertebrate research and terrestrial biodiversity monitoring, resulting in a robust insect collection. Most of their discoveries were made in the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and other protected areas.

“We understand and document insect species through our invertebrate inventory initiative. This includes investigations in our protected areas and the documentation of the species found, ”she said.

The huge insect collection gives an insight into Abu Dhabi’s insect diversity, she added.

“It contributes to our understanding of species: threatened, pest-laden, poisonous as well as invasive and therefore has a greater social benefit.”

Dr. Saji said research on insects helps manage protected areas.

“A good example is our work on Artemia and its relationship with water quality to understand the ecology of the species that are an important food source for the Greater Flamingo, a flagship species for conservation in the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. Such work, which shows ecological relationships and the effects of factors such as salinity and temperature of the water, help to improve the conditions and to effectively manage the protected areas. “

Dr. Saji stressed the need to emphasize the importance of entomological research.

“Insects can be used as indicators of habitat quality. Because insects have a short lifespan, even short-term or short-term effects on an ecosystem can affect the entire insect population, making them ideal bio-indicators. Many undiscovered species may have become extinct before they were identified. “

She noted that the EEAS collection is an important research resource for the scientific community and students, engaging and educating the public about insects.

“I designed EAD’s insect collection to be fully referenced and cataloged and to include more than 2,500 species belonging to 34 orders of invertebrates.”

Their work led to the development of a Red List of Abu Dhabi Species and the Urban Biodiversity Index for the emirate.

“I thank the EAD, ENHG and Sheikh Nahyan for the award, which was one of the most memorable moments of my career.”

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com

Ashwani Kumar

I am a journalist from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the street. As a South Indian who was born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people of different nationalities and cultures. I am calm as a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On site, I cover a range of community, health, embassy, ​​tourism, transport, business and sport issues. I will walk on one leg to do the right thing and to stand by what I believe in.