Stephen Sutton, MA, D.Phil (Oxford), Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK), F.R.E.S., Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (UK), F.R.G.S.
This website aims to introduce you to Stephen Sutton’s current activities, background and publications.
Dr Stephen Sutton has been an invertebrate ecologist for 45 years, with a particular interest in tropical forest insects. He has been one of the pioneers of upper canopy research in rainforests. He lectured at Leeds University for 25 years and after early retirement has been active in environmental consultancy since the mid 1980′s. He has wide experience of planning and managing scientific field surveys and research programmes for major NGO’s and parastatal bodies such as The Royal Society, London. He has written or edited 7 books and published 70 papers/articles. He has organised 2 major international conferences and acted as senior editor of 3 conference publications. He directed the SE Asia Rain Forest Research Programme (SEARRP) of the Royal Society for 10 years. Earlier he planned the tropical forest work of Operation Drake and was Scientific Director of Operation Raleigh from 1983-87.
Current Activities: Part of a team working on ‘The Repatriation of Malaysia’s Insect Heritage through Digital Means’. During the colonial period it was the practice to send back the type specimens of fauna and flora for safe keeping to the major museums in the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Now that the former colonies are independent and increasingly appreciative (and protective) of their faunal and floral heritage, they would like these specimens back. For one thing, it is extremely expensive for taxonomists to travel abroad to examine type material. For another, arguably they belong to Malaysia and Malaysians and should be housed in the country of their origin.
However building museums and to train staff to the standard required to house these precious specimens, particularly in tropical countries, is very costly, and recent developments in internet website design mean that it is no longer necessary to actually have the specimens. Recent advances in website technology have been phenomenal and mean that one no longer need examine the actual specimen but study digital representations of it (images of the type specimen wing pattern and genitalia, DNA analysis, facsimile of the original description). These data can be put in the public domain, via the internet.
For the last eight years I have been one of three researchers (Dato Henry Barlow and Dr Terry Whitaker being the others) who have studied all the specimens in key collections of the thyridid and pyralid moths of Borneo, imaged them all and are now slowly loading up a website with data as detailed above This work is slow because each species has a separate page of the website and there are 2,500 species to be transferred from the master database. The initial upload should be finished by December 2014.
Lecturing on climate change and canopy research to civil societies in Sabah are among his other activities, as well as writing articles and reviews. With much help from younger colleagues he recently co-authored a paper on historic changes in melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia) in Yorkshire. UK and three papers on canopy insect diversity in Sulawesi (Indonesia).
Stephen is responsible for the contents of the well established commercial website http://www.borneobooks.com/blog/ belonging to Eastern Liberty Sdn Bhd (trading as ‘Borneo Books’) which is owned by his wife Rosalind Tsang Shim Hing and which keeps him pretty busy. It is largely a specialist online bookshop dealing in environmental sciences and natural history. Borneo Books is now well known as a source of hard-to-find specialist publications and rare books about Borneo.