A pioneer of upper canopy research in rain forests

25 May 2019

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.

News updates:

12th June 2021

Stephen’s contribution is in the Eastern time zone and features a 15 minutes .mp4 compiled & narrated by Leonard Alaza.

Borneo 360 magazine feature (published Kota Kinabalu, March 2019) see News section Page 1Page 2

The Birdwing Dance video at the Sabah Kids Birds and Butterflies Festival March 2019 at Kampung Kiau (Mount Kinabalu) see News section

Narrative: Contribution to World Swallowtail & Birdwing Butterfly Conservation Day 9 June 2019 from Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) The Courtship Dance of the Kinabalu Birdwing Butterfly Troides andromache

  • He has been an invertebrate ecologist, specialising since 1980 in auditing the biodiversity of tropical forest insects. One of the pioneers of upper canopy research in rain forests. He lectured at Leeds University for 25 years and since early retirement in 1999 has been active in environmental consultancy. 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 8 books and published 75 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 research of Operation Drake and was Scientific Director of Operation Raleigh from 1983-87.
  •  Part of a team working on the Bringing back Malaysia’s Insect Heritage from museums overseas by digital means. Thanks to Prof Datuk Dr Ghazally Ismail of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences for ably spearheading the drive to raise funds for this, and thanks to Bodhi Vision in KL for providing these funds. The moth biodiversity project below is benefiting from his initiative
  • Click here for full size.


    Pyraloid Moths of Borneo. Since 2009 Stephen has been one of four researchers (Dato’ Henry Barlow, Lim Kooi Fong and Dr Terry Whitaker being the others) who have been developing an innovative delivery system to do this repatriation. It involves publishing three printed volumes for identification of species of the Superfamily Pyraloidea (c. 2,000 species in Borneo known so far) and a large website linked to the printed volumes by individual QR codes for each species (see https://pyralids.plattenbaukasten.de). This kind of hybrid publishing (print & website) looks like a promising way to go for identification guides.  Image is of a supposed new species of Musotiminae (Crambidae) from Tamparuli area, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Thanks to Ron Eldie.

  • To see Report click on image

    The Mountain Guides of Kinabalu. A very different project: Stephen was caught up in the earthquake on Mt Kinabalu in June 2015. It was a strong tremor (Richter 6.0 at 1600m on the mountain). Having seen the physical and economic damage of the quake Stephen has since been helping the mountain guide community get back on its feet. This project also involves training  the guides to increase awareness among visitors of Mt K’s  exceptionally rich biodiversity and the drive in Malaysia for the wise use of natural capital. Thanks to the Sunway Group and Bodhi Vision in KL and the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu for funding.

  • 9 trainees from Kg Kiau and 3 tutors
  • From time to time Stephen lectures on insect biodiversity and canopy research to academics, civil societies and tour groups in Sabah and writes articles and reviews.
  • Borneobooks.com  Stephen was a partner in the bricks & mortar and online shop Borneo Books (1999-2014). See ‘Decline & Fall of a Small Bookshop’ in the ‘Stories’ section for details of this venture. Please note that this borneobooks.com website has now been shut down.

For more detail please see News.