International cooperation in biodiversity of Africa is developing with ASU scientist’s participation

23 November 2015 Faculty of Biology

Currently, biodiversity research is one of the biology’s top priorities. It is especially relevant for the understudied territories. Africa takes the second place, behind South America, for the fragmentariness of flora and fauna exploration.

At the invitation of Belgian colleagues, Doctor of Biology Roman V. Yakovlev visited the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren for the first time. It is one of the few world museums that is entirely dedicated to Africa. Belgian Congo was in the private ownership of the King of the Belgians Leopold II; after 1906 – Belgian colony; and in 1960 it became an independent state. The King of the Belgians has founded a museum, where Central African artistic, environmental and ethnographic values must have been localized.

When R.V. Yakovlev was on a business trip, he visited the Museum for Africa. His main objectives were to conduct the detailed revision of Cossidae of Central Africa, to participate in the global AfroMoths project and to discuss the modern trends of taxonomy development. The schedule was very tough: museum work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., then discussion with the colleagues – De Prins family – till late evening. Jurate De Prins is our former compatriot, Lithuania citizen. She was taking her post graduate course and defended her thesis in Saint-Petersburg, and now she is one of the leading world experts in Microlepidoptera (used to be a researcher and curator at the museums of the USSR, Belgium and Great Britain. Her husband Willy De Prins is also an entomologist famous in Belgium, qualified specialist in biology IT. Jurate has organized over 20 expeditions to Africa, worked in Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, the Republic of South Africa, often under heavy conditions.

“When I look at this young energetic woman, I marvel at how much effort and willpower was spent on this tremendous work that she had accomplished under the hard and dangerous conditions of equatorial Africa. I understand what expeditions mean. Moreover, I understand what it means to go on an expedition to the tropics – Africa, Latin America. It requires three times harder efforts to achieve good results,” says Roman Yakovlev. “At the present moment, Willy and Jurate supervise the unprecedented scientific and educational AfroMoths project on a free-of-charge basis. It pools all the obtained information on 30,000 lepidopterans discovered in Africa. Considering the specialists that have already joined the project, it is a gift to work in such team. I was invited to join the work that is of image-building nature only. Furthermore, the Royal Museum for Central Africa publishes the European Journal of Taxonomy that specializes on systematics and even outpaces the famous Zootaxa in terms of impact-factor. The Journal’s editorial board is interested in our research and ASU scientists’ articles will soon be published there. The first will be an article by Candidate of Biology P.Ya. Ustyuzhanin.”

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