The Wallace Resource Library - Operation Wallacea

The Wallace Resource Library

You can now find the Wallace Resource Library on the web at

Preparing 16-18 year students for key science exams can be a challenging and often frustrating experience for teachers. There has been an ever increasing emphasis placed on the analysis of scientific data. One major problem facing science teachers has been finding good data sets to support all of these new initiatives and many of the examples often used within present education fail to represent recent advances in research, especially in the field.

Operation Wallacea has been running research expeditions since 1995 and started taking sixth form students in 2004. With the help of funding from the Weston Foundation we have created a science resource known as WRL (The Wallace Resource Library). It provides novel data sets for the classroom and uniquely, these data sets have all been processed and produced by the actual scientists involved in the research. These data sets all originate directly from Operation Wallacea research sites around the world (15 different countries).

A new and expanded version is now available containing 19 data sets and will be added to on a regular basis and build up into a significant ‘long-term’ resource for education.

WRL is being organized under a series of modular topic headings such as Ecosystems – Coral reefs, Ecosystems – Tropical rainforest, Ecological Survey Techniques, Animal Behaviour and Natural Resource Use and Sustainability.

You can view the modules at the WRL website, here. The first module is publicly accessible, but in order to access the rest all you have to do is register.

Each resource has been organised so that it can be used almost immediately by a teacher and it will appeal to all 16-18 year old science students but also stretch the most able. The examples provided will almost certainly be novel and exciting and should provide a real catalyst for learning and being enthusiastic about ‘your subject’. Each resource will also have backup material such as photographs, video clips, glossary of terms and curriculum links. Data sets include:

M01 – Ecosystems – coral reefs: Effect of light on coral morphology, variation in habitat quality between two Indonesian coral reefs, temperature tolerance of lionfish in Indonesia and interspecific variation in anemonefish calls.

M02 – Ecological Survey Techniques:mark release recapture of Hog Island Boas, analysis of bird point count data from a cloud forest, comparison of point count, transect and mist net data for assessing bird communities in lowland forests and camera trapping to assess mammals in Amazonia.

M03 – Animal Behaviour: calculating elephant hierarchies, impact of intertidal height on the feeding rates of fiddler crabs, Mantled Howler Monkey vocalisations and surgeonfish feeding behaviour on coral reefs.

M04 – Ecosystems – tropical rainforests:  assessing prevalence of chytridfungus in two critically endangered species of tree frog, quantifying forest disturbance in cloud forests, dung beetle community structure in cloud forest and abundance of bat feeding guilds in Guyana.

M05 – Natural resources:  Identifying overfishing on Indonesian coral reefs, monitoring agricultural land use in Transylvania and quantifying the effects of fishing on Amazonian fish.

Much of the research is novel, innovative and exciting and it will provide a real catalyst for learning within science education and really motivate 16-18 year old students. The data sets will also appeal to Geographers and Mathematicians and WRL should be considered as a genuine ‘cross-curricula’ resource for education. If anyone is interested in this new and developing resource you can get further information from

WallaceAged46 wallacemapthumb
A R Wallace
Photo courtesy of George Beccaloni, of the London Natural History Museum
This map of Wallace and Darwin’s travels was produced in association with the Wallace Memorial Fund and forms part of the Wallace100 celebrations. Click above for a larger version, or if you would like this in poster form please email The cost is £1 plus p+p.

You can also find a fantastic film on the life of Wallace on the New York Times website here