Bio-Diversity

Borneo

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 28, 2006

 
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A new report by WWF details how scientists have uncovered dozens of species of plants and animals formerly unknown to science in the jungles and coastal waters of the Indonesian island of Borneo. Scientists working under the auspices of WWF’s Heart of Borneo program report discovering 30 unique fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger species, three tree species and one large-leafed plant species.

"These discoveries reaffirm Borneo’s position as one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world," says Stuart Chapman, coordinator of WWF’s Borneo program. "The more we look the more we find."

Chapman emphasizes the importance of such findings in light of the acceleration of forest clearing on the remote Indonesian island, which he considers one of the world’s final frontiers for science. Since 1996, deforestation across Indonesia has increased by an average of five million acres a year, with only about half of Borneo’s original forest cover remaining. Chapman hopes that the discoveries made by his team and other scientists will help convince the governments of Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, which jointly administer Borneo, to institute greater checks on deforestation and resource extraction there.

Sources: worldwildlife.org; alertnet.org

Bio-Diversity

Wiping Out Lantana Weeds

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 27, 2006

 
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Delhi University has developed a technology to wipe out Lantana Camara, a weed which has created havoc invading millions of acres of deserted landscapes. 

 
The technology prescribes cutting the plant from its roots and removing the 'copppising zone', which is normally buried inside the soil and is very crucial for the weeds life.


"The plant has to be cut in a manner so that its coppising zone is removed from inside the soil.  Then the uprooted plant should be put upside down for a few days, so that it will be dead."Prof. C.R Babu, Project Director , The center for Environment Management of degraded Ecosystem(CEMDE), said.


Lantana(exotic plant introduced by the Portugese in 19th century from South America) has the potential to kill the native plants where it grows. The fruits and flowers are not eaten by animals/birds.

Bio-Diversity

Living on a Blue planet

Posted by Susan Sharma on November 04, 2006

 
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“The oceans define our planet, and their fate may to a large extent determine our fate, now and in the future.”

The study ’Impact of biodiversity loss on ocean system services’ showed that the loss of one species accelerates the unravelling of the overall ecosystem, while conversely every species recovered adds significantly to its productivity, stability and ability to withstand stresses.

Data for 2003 shows that 29% of currently fished species were considered “collapsed” –that their catches had declined by 90% or more. This trend is accelerating as per the study.

(Source: The Hindu dated 4 November, 2006)

Bio-Diversity

Yamuna Bio-diversity Park

Posted by Susan Sharma on September 16, 2006

 
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Yamuna Bio diversity Park

 I visited the Yamuna Biodiversity Park in September 2006 and was quite impressed by the work being done to save the Yamuna Wetlands. Read a brief report on this in our yahoo group

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/indianwildlifeclub2/

To view the photographs posted in the group, you will have to join the yahoo group.

Bio-Diversity

Leatherback turtles

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 20, 2006

 
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The Decmber 2004 tsunami has seriously disrupted breeding patterns of the endangered leatherback turtle in the Andaman and Nicobar islands where 400-600 used to nest during the winter, according to a UNDP report.

The report also said the turtle population had become virtually extinct in Malaysia and had deprived the country of one of its most "charismatic tourist lures". The tsunami had caused localised damage to turtle habitats in 11 countries, the 166-page United Nations Environment Programme report observes.

India, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the worst affected, with some nesting beaches completely destroyed. Marine turtle conservation projects in these countries also suffered significant because of the loss of lives of conservation staff.

"It's far too soon to say whether this is a long-term downward trend or simply a natural fluctuation in the population size," the report says. The main threats to the pre-historic creatures of the sea, which can grow up to 700 kg or more, include mortality in fisheries, human egg harvest, depredation of eggs by pigs and dogs and loss of critical habitat -- especially beaches needed for nesting.

Bio-Diversity

What can a city dweller do?

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 16, 2006

 
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Simple actions such as maintaining a wildlife friendly garden can actually contribute to biodiversity. Its a long shot but if everyone where to modify their gardens in this way it could actually make a difference to some species e.g. the declining populations of house sparrows to name one.

 Let your lawn go natural for wildlife.

Save trees by reducing your junk mail

Bio-Diversity

Can evolution run backwards?

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 06, 2006

 
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Can two species that have evolved from one species collapse into one once again? In other words, can evolution run backwards?

Two fledgling species can become different enough genetically so that they can no longer hybridize effectively. But, if the barriers to gene flow come down too soon the two may hybridize and merge again. A recent issue of New Scientist ( 20 May 2006) describes two studies that point to such a possibility. One study relates to two finch ( a small seed-eating songbird) species on the Santa Cruz island ( off the coast of California )-one with large bills and one with small bills-but rarely medium sized ones. This feature reflects two populations specializing in eating two different sizes of seeds. This was in 1960. Four decades later the researchers found that only birds living in sparsely settled parts of the island still showed two different bill sizes. Near the island's only town, birds with middle-sized bills had become more common! The earlier two distinct groups had collapsed into one! What could be the reason for the change? The researchers attribute this to the fact that people are providing bird feeders filled with rice and hence it is no longer a disadvantage to have an intermediate beak! Apparently everybody can eat this rice! Is the impact of human beings on environment forcing evolution into reverse?

Another study relates to Homo Sapiens-human beings. It is really asking who we are and where we came from! True, humans did not evolve from modern apes, but humans and modern apes shared a common ancestor, a species that no longer exists. In other words, we are cousins. Evolution is not a ladder. it is a branching bush. because we shared a recent common ancestorwith chimpanzees and gorillas, we have many anatomical, genetic, biochemical, and even behaviuoral similarities with the African great apes. We are less similar to the Asian apes -orangutans and gibbons- and even less similar to monkeys, because we shared common ancestors with these groups in the more distant past. In this study, genomes of humans, chimps and gorillas were compared using a "molecular clock" to estimate how long ago the three groups diverged. The further back two species diverged, the more differences would have accumulated between their genome sequences. The study suggests that the two lineages split over 6.3 million years ago. But later both the species re-hybridized in a "reverse speciation" event! Complete speciation between humans nad chimpanzees took place less than 6.3 million years. Natural selection then favoured those hybrid individuals whose chromosomes carried fewest of the genes that lower fertility! Evolution just selected what worked! May be, hybridization between the two fledgling species might have provided traits that saved our ancestors from extinction! The growing genomic information should bring us closer to the understanding of the key steps in evolution-the origin of species. Surely every bit of bio-diversity is invaluable. We never know which one would trigger the next innovation. 

Excerpts from article by Dr.V.B.Kamble at

http://www.vigyanprasar.gov.in

 

Bio-Diversity

Asiatic Lion

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 24, 2006

 
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The Asiatic lion is struggling to survive in its last wild home in India. The Asiatic lion is considered a different species from its African cousin.

Read a well researched article about the Asiatic lion at

Frontline Magazine

Bio-Diversity

Wild Buffalo ( Water Buffalo)

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 23, 2006

 
Forum Post

With only a few hundreds left in the wild, the wild buffalos (Bubalus Bubalis) in India could soon turn extinct unless an urgent action for their conservation is initiated. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with the Chattisgarh forest department started a three year plan for its revival from the present small population in the state.

An estimate by the forest department suggests 120 individuals in the state. Udanti WLS is considered to hold the maximum number-about 60 individuals, followed by Indravati NP - about 49 individuals and Pamed WLS about 8 individuals. From the other two, Sitanadi and Baihramgarh Wildlife Sanctuaries considered extinct.

Wild buffalos are said to originate only in two states, Chattisgarh in central India and Assam in northeast India. Assam has the maximum number, about 3000 individuals.

IUCN in 2004 estimated that the total world population is certainly less than 4000 but it may be less than 200 and possibly no pure bred wild Asian buffalo left in the wild. Read the full story at

http://www.wildlifetrustofindia.org/html/news/2006/060215_chattisgarh_story.html

 

Bio-Diversity

Jerdon's Courser

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 23, 2006

 
Forum Post

Jerdon’s Courser - which is a small nocturnal bird found in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh was thought to be extinct till it was re-discovered in 1986. But the Telugu-Ganga Canal Project, which runs through the Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary (SLWLS), threatens to destroy the habitat of the bird.

 "Endemic to a country where some 13 per cent of the world’s birds have been recorded, the Jerdon’s Courser clings to existence in a tiny habitat of scrub forest threatened by livestock grazing, quarrying, and canal-building"

 says P. Jeganathan and Dr. Asad Rahmani

Read the full article at http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/features/detailfeatures.php?id=779

 

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