Project team conducts interviewer training and questionnaire pretesting in Hainan University

M.M. Escalada, Visayas State University, Leyte, Philippines,
H. Zhang, Q. Yuan, D. Cai, Hainan University, Hai Kou, China and
K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines

Dr. Qianhua Yuan shows student enumerators the survey sites in Hainan province.

L-R: Hui Zhang (Hainan University) and Dr. M. Escalada going through the interviewing guide.

To design a scaling up plan on biodiversity conservation for Hainan Island, China, audience analysis, media monitoring and baseline survey data are needed. Such data will serve as valuable inputs in developing the campaign objectives, choosing the communication media mix and on-the-ground support, framing the message and implementing the campaign.

As a prerequisite to an audience analysis in Hainan province, 20 student enumerators were trained on interviewing procedures and questionnaire pretesting. During the training, Dr. K.L. Heong briefed the students on the Hainan project and the purpose of the audience analysis. Dr. QH Yuan presented the survey sites, Ms. Hui Zhang discussed sampling procedures and logistics, Dr. M. Escalada explained interviewing procedures and what should be noted during the questionnaire pretest. After the training, the students went to Longji village in Haikou to pretest the audience analysis questionnaire with rice farmers. The enumerators were second year market research students of Hainan University.


Training participants with resource persons

Pretesting results

 When the college students returned from the field, each of them shared their interviewing experiences and specified the questions that were not clearly understood by farmers. They also estimated the duration of each interview.

Table 1. Questionnaire pretesting results, Longji, Haikou.

[table id=1 /]

Student enumerators arrive in Longji village for pretesting.

Hainan University student pretesting the questionnaire.

Pretesting in Longji village.

What is questionnaire pretesting

To ensure that the questionnaire is effective, it is necessary to pretest it before actually using it. The pretest is a try-out of the questionnaire to see how it works and whether changes are necessary before the start of the actual survey. About 15 to 20 respondents, whose characteristics are reasonably similar to the survey population, will be adequate for a pretest.  The questionnaire is then revised and finalized on the basis of pretest results.   Linguistic and cultural differences also complicate the task of questionnaire development, making pretesting a necessary step. The pretest enables one to: 1) improve the wording of the questionnaire; 2) correct and improve translation of technical terms; 3) check the accuracy and adequacy of the questionnaire’s instructions such as “skip” and “go to”; 4) eliminate unnecessary questions and add necessary ones; and 5) estimate the time needed to conduct the interview.



Discovering and naming new arthropod species – meticulous tasks involved

A.T. Barrion, J Catindig, S Villareal, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines, Ducheng, Cai and  QianhuaYuan, Hainan University, China

Some new spider species from Hainan Island, China

Caption :  A. Hyposinga n. sp. [Araneidae]; B. Larinia n.sp.[Araneidae]; C. Cheiracanthium n. sp. [ Clubionidae]; D. Chrysso n. sp. [Theridiidae]; E. Neobrettus heongi n. sp. [ Salticidae]; F. Tetragnatha n. sp. [Tetragnathidae]; G. Clubiona n. sp. [Clubionidae]; H. Mallinella n. sp. [Zodariidae]; I. Arctosa n. sp. [Lycosidae]; J. Evarcha n. sp. [Salticidae]

Discovering and naming a new species

Worldwide new species of animals particularly arthropods are discovered and more than 15,000 of them new to science are catalogued annually. The arthropod biodiversity exploration (ABE) expeditions of sampling and collecting the fauna in rice and habitats surrounding rice cultivations have yielded huge numbers of insects, spiders and relatives.  The arthropod biodiversity on Hainan Island is impressive. From our first expedition in August 2010, we collected 6531 hymenopterans and 10426 spiders and another 56628 arthropods from at least 16 orders—Acarina, Blattodea, Chilopoda, Coleoptera, Collembola, Dermaptera, Diplopoda, Diptera, Hemiptera, Lepidoptera, Mantodea, Phasmatodea, Psocoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera and Thysanoptera.  The hymenopteran insects were represented by 36 families, 260 genera and 816 species and 123 species (or 15.1%) we believe to be new records.  The spiders collected were represented by 19 families, 79 genera and 167 species of which 23 (or 15.6%) were definitely new records.  So far only one species has been named, described and published in literature, that of Tetragnatha heongi  in 2011 and 146 new arthropod species remain un-described. It had taken us more than a year to sort, identify and count the arthropod collections because of the acute shortage of experts in arthropod taxonomy.  Although we have identified many new species, but the process of describing, naming and publishing the new taxa require highly specialized taxonomists working with the arthropod group who are familiar with the literature and works of other taxonomists around the world.

Roadmap in discovering, naming, describing and publishing a new species.

New species maybe abundant in Hainan Island but the discovery of new species is a product of a meticulous investigative process that starts from knowing the: CLASS-FAMILY-GENUS-SPECIES. Once the genus had been identified, all the species under the genus must be investigated. The scientists need to compare the species in question to all known described taxa based on taxonomic characters like that of the genitalia, morphology and size and color. This is done by following the published descriptions about the genus/genera and species under it. Whenever possible, type specimens must be borrowed from museums it was deposited for better comparison. Only when it is certain that the “new” species has completely different characteristics can the scientist propose the new name with justifications. Naming species follows many but specific protocols fixed by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) for animals and the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) for plants. The manuscript for publication containing the new species description is submitted to the chosen journal following its guidelines for publication. The journal editor upon receipt submits the manuscript to the journal pool of section reviewers (specialist of the group) for review. Publication of new species is only formally achieved upon satisfying and fulfilling the recommendation(s)/suggestion(s) of the panel of experts .  To recognize that a species is new to science, one must be an expert in a particular taxonomic group. The scientists describing the new species had to be familiar with the particular taxonomic group and know the characteristics of every known species in the world.  The naming of plants and animals was formalized in the 18th century by a Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus.

Biodiversity conservation

Species new to science will continue to be found as long as scientists look for them and have the expertise and patience to describe them. But such species are not new to the world as they have been here for millions of years and it is important that mankind ensure that both “old” and “new” species remain a part of the environment. They may be contributing to an important ecosystem service important for sustainability.  This is more so in the case of species that have specialized functions.  In the case of rice there are only a few species that can reach and attack planthopper eggs embedded in the leaf sheath tissues, the mymarid parasitoids and the mirid egg predator. Thus when these species are destroyed or they become extinct, egg mortality will be reduced allowing these species to grow into outbreak proportions. Earlier we found that spider and parasitoid species diversity is highly dependent  on farm practices, particularly pesticide use and bund management with flowers.

From a small sample of arthropods collected we found 15% of the species were new to science.  Being an island It is very likely that more species are yet to be discovered.  This shows the richness of the biodiversity on Hainan Island and possibly new species of mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates will also be discovered. There is great potential in building a biodiversity center in Hainan University that will focus on discovering, describing and naming of the huge biodiversity existing on the island.