The survey team gathers more than 230 samples in Marmul concession area

    09 Jan 2022

    A survey conducted by the National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation (NFRCEC) has collected over 230 samples that recorded the presence of Arabian wolf, striped hyena, Arabian gazelle, hare, honey badger, red fox, Blandford fox and Ethiopian hedgehog.

    The National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation (NFRCEC) at the Diwan of Royal Court conducted a field study to identify the wildlife and biodiversity in the Marmul concession area in cooperation with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), as part of the second phase of environmental field surveys in the concession areas, Times of Oman reports.

    These surveys aim to identify environmental habitats and the impact of activities and practices related to the oil and energy sector for building a digital environmental database and setting plans to preserve biodiversity and to achieve sustainable development. The study included all aspects of wildlife, such as bird observation, small and large mammals, as well as a survey of vegetation, reptiles and insects.

    The study concluded that 80 species of trees and plants were recorded. Eight types of large mammals were monitored, and 39 species of birds were recorded. Different species of birds, most notably, the stork, the green-footed water hen and the store owl, and the presence of reptiles and many insects, were recorded.

    The Marmul concession area varies in its geomorphological features and topography, where the wadis increase in number and depth towards the southeast due to their connection with the extension of the Samhan mountain range, which represents the highest elevations of the region compared to the northern part of it. Due to the variation in topography between low areas and high areas and the different nature of the soil between rocky and sandy, natural habitats have been formed in which different elements of wildlife were found in the region.

    The most important natural habitats and sites that formed the natural features that attract biodiversity are the desert environment, wadis and mountains environment (Demat, Kibbut, Shuwaimiya), garden and farm environments, (Rahab farm), land environment and artificial wet environment (treated wastewater).

    The team also observed a significant similarity between the vegetation cover of the Nimr concession and the vegetation of Marmul concession area. The concentration of some plants in certain areas, such as the Omani Ghaf tree (Prosopis), Acacia and Ghadf plant in some wadis that pass the study area, and also the concentration of Arab frankincense and Acacia trees in the Kibot area and DimitWady region were noted.


    Large Mammal Survey

    To monitor the presence of large mammals in the study area, many survey methods can be used, but one of the most recent methods used was camera traps. For sensing movement and recording it in memory cards continuously day and night (infrared at night) for long periods that may extend to six months, nearly 30 camera traps have been installed in separate locations of the study area. The camera traps have detected many species such as the Arabian wolf, striped hyena, Arabian gazelle, Wild rabbit, honey badger, red fox, Blandford fox, and the Ethiopian hedgehog. Researchers also suspect the existence of other species such as the Nubian tahr and porcupine that were not detected by the camera traps.


    Small Mammals Survey

    The survey of small mammals aims to determine their types and the extent of their spread in the study area and to build ecological relationships between them and the presence of other organisms that are related to them in the food chain. By using Sherman traps in surveys, the presence of two types of small mammals was recorded, with a total number of 35 organisms which are spiny mice. The outcome was 19 mice in the mountainous and rocky locations. As for the desert jerboa, 20 numbers were recorded in the sandy ranges.

    These numbers are vital indicators that constitute an essential element in the life cycle of some of the predators higher than them in the food chain, such as the wolf and the red fox, which were also monitored in the area.


    The Bird survey

    The field environmental survey team has adopted the transect line survey method, where a survey line determined in an area exceeding one kilometre is interspersed with stopping points, while it is being monitored by a GPS system, along with a distance finder device and a telescope. The bird species, number and their status during monitoring is being recorded. If direct vision is not possible, in many cases, researchers are identifying the birds’ sounds as well as recording their species. The survey area was divided into several ranges for implementing the bird survey.


    The Insect survey

    Millions of arthropods, including insects, spiders and crustaceans, play a pivotal and essential role in helping to maintain the balance of the Earth’s ecosystem and food chains that link the relationship between living organisms as survival instincts and an indicator of plant diversity in different geographical areas. They are also a means of knowing the vital elements in those areas, due to the multiplicity of different environments in which insects and other arthropods live. So, the team set insect traps in more than 10 locations distributed over the study area.  

    During the survey of insects, the team used a set of traps, which included aquatic traps such as yellow plates. About 60 such traps were deployed in four locations within the study area. These traps attract Hymenoptera such as wasps and ants in addition to flies and spiders. High winds are considered one of the obstacles that have negative consequences for the use of dishes. The team also used light traps, which target night butterflies, in addition to beetles and aquatic insects.

    These traps are usually set up after sunset and are monitored on a daily basis. Four light traps were set up, and two sticky traps were installed in two locations in order to attract flying insects such as wasps, beetles, flies and ants. The team also relied on the use of the aerial net to collect a group of insects. The results of the survey were obtained by collecting a large group of samples, more than 230 samples.

    After examination and classification, insects were included in 7 orders, 61 families and more than 100 species. Hymenoptera outnumbered the species by 25 species, while camel spiders (Solifugae) almost one species.

    There are still specimens awaiting confirmation of the scientific classification by specialists.

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