1 Tahrcountry Musings: 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scientific monitoring of Tigers gets a boost in India

WCS/CWS India under the leadership of Dr Ullas Karanth has been developing new monitoring methodologies for tigers and prey species for over two decades working in tandem with Karnataka Forest Department. Now National Tiger Conservation Authority has decided to incorporate some of their key suggestions as a part of the official protocols.

The key suggestions are

Annual monitoring of tiger source populations will be done using capture-recapture. Individual identification of tigers will be done using camera trap data or faecal DNA analysis. These protocols will work in close association with a national tiger photographic data base repository to be developed and maintained at NTCA.

Minimum sampling area will be 400 sq km at a time. Sampling intensity aimed at will be 1,000 trap nights per 100 sq km.

The annual camera trap survey will be completed in 45-60 days.

If deployment of camera traps in an entire reserve – or parts of it – is not feasible for any reason, faecal DNA samples will be collected within 45-60 day survey period and analysed to arrive at tiger numbers.

Protocols have been also laid down for estimating prey densities using line transect surveys and the use of DISTANCE software.

The icing on the cake is that Dr. Rajesh Gopal (Member Secretary — NTCA) and Sri PR Sinha (Director - WII) is working hand in hand with Dr Ullas Karanth in introducing these refinements. Tahrcountry joins other conservationists in applauding this path breaking team work. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Comprehensive landscape assessments of protected area networks

Dynamic performance assessment of protected areas
Christopher P. Barbera, Mark A. Cochranea, b, , Carlos Souza Jr.b, , Adalberto Veríssimob
Biological conservation, Volume 149, Issue 1, May 2012, Pages 6–14

For preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services protected area networks have been established worldwide, but are they effective in delivering what has been intended? The authors of this paper say empirical coarse-scale assessments of this question across large regions, or even globally, tend to answer “yes”, while fine-scale studies of individual protected areas often and repeatedly answer “no”.

The researchers conducted a first fine-scale analysis of Brazil’s extensive Amazonian protected area network (1.8 million km2) and quantitatively estimated conservation effectiveness against the backdrop of changing human development pressures in the surrounding landscape. The overall network maintained intact forest cover for 98.6% of protected forest lands. This is in tune with previous coarse-scale studies. A detailed examination of 474 individual protected areas gave a different picture.

The researchers say many protected areas (544,800 km2) experience default protection due to their remoteness only. Some others (396,100 km2) provided highly effective protection in the face of substantial human development pressure.  12% (38) of protected areas failed to protect the 27,300 km2 that they encompass. Another 7% (23) provided only marginal protection for 37,500 km2.

Based on their assessment the authors contend that Comprehensive landscape assessments of protected area networks, with frequent monitoring at scales matching the patterns of human-caused disturbances, are necessary to ensure the conservation effectiveness and long term survival of protected areas in rapidly changing landscapes. The reiterate that the methods presented here are globally adaptable to all forested protected areas.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Estimating the population of Emperor penguins using a single synoptic survey

In this piece of path breaking research, the researchers attempted to estimate the population of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes fosteri) using a single synoptic survey. They examined the whole continental coastline of Antarctica using a combination of medium resolution and Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery to identify emperor penguin colony locations. Where colonies were identified, VHR imagery was obtained in the 2009 breeding season. The remotely-sensed images were then analysed using a supervised classification method to separate penguins from snow, shadow and guano. Actual counts of penguins from eleven ground truthing sites were used to convert these classified areas into numbers of penguins using a robust regression algorithm

Four new colonies were discovered. The location of three previously suspected sites was confirmed. Total number of emperor penguin breeding colonies was put at 46. The researchers estimated the breeding population of emperor penguins at each colony during 2009 and provide a population estimate of ~238,000 breeding pairs. This is against the last previously published count of 135,000–175,000 pairs). The researchers say based on published values of the relationship between breeders and non-breeders, this translates to a total population of ~595,000 adult birds.

The researchers contend that their work now provides a comprehensive estimate of the total breeding population that can be used in future population models and will provide a baseline for long-term research.

Citation: Fretwell PT, LaRue MA, Morin P, Kooyman GL, Wienecke B, et al. (2012) An Emperor Penguin Population Estimate: The First Global, Synoptic Survey of a Species from Space. PLoS ONE 7(4): e33751. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033751

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Opportunity to work in Periyar Tiger Reserve

Young wildlife biologists, here is an opportunity for you to hone your skills in Periyar Tiger Reserve, India’s finest Tiger reserve. Periyar Foundation a Government owned public trust with the legality of the Government organization and flexibility of a good non-governmental organization is looking for field biologists to work under their “Biodiversity conservation and Rural livelihood improvement project” (Kerala forest department– Periyar foundation)

Qualification:  Masters Degree in Environmental / Wildlife Sciences or Forestry (Preference will be given to Ph. D. holders).
Experience:  Minimum 3 years of field experience in the field of ecology preferably in the landscape where Participatory Forest Management is implemented.
Remuneration: Rs 30,000/- per month.
Project period: 5 years.
Tasks to be carried out:
• To undertake analysis, assessment and research on ecology and wildlife biology.
• To distil, document and support to disseminate the best practices in the Project Area.
• To assist in conducting trainings in habitat management practices, monitoring of habitats and wildlife, eco-friendly tourism, to NGOs, local community groups, other stakeholders, policy makers, senior and mid-level forest officers and field staff and other development sector agencies.
• To develop field guides /identification keys on important groups of flora and fauna.
• To conduct impact assessment of habitat interventions, ecotourism etc.
• To contribute as a team in curriculum development and preparation of course material.

Candidates who possess the above qualification may apply with their curriculum vitae to the Executive Secretary, Periyar Foundation, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady P.O., Kumily, Idukki District, Kerala. Pin – 685536.  The name of the post should be written on the envelope containing application.

Last date for receipt of application is 15th April, 2012
Vacancies exist also for Sociologist / Socio-Ecologist, Regional Planner, Training Officer, Training Assistant, Field Assistant and Accountant

For more details log on to http://www.periyarfoundation.org/

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rare image of a lynx using a highway wildlife-overpass in Banff National Park, Canada

                                                           Photo courtesy: Highwaywilding.org

Here is a very rare image of a Canada lynx using an overpass. The location is the Redearth Creek wildlife overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park. The exact timing recorded by the camera trap is 8:34 a.m. on March 28, 2012. The overpass is one of the six overpasses in Banff National Park.

Assessing age from colour of coats – A case study involving Thornicroft's giraffes

Here is an interesting piece of research done on giraffes. Prof Fred Bercovitch from the Primate Research Institute and Wildlife Research Centre, Kyoto University working in tandem with  local  naturalist Phil Berry have discovered that Male giraffes' age can be estimated by looking at the colour of their coats. The research was done on Thornicroft's giraffes found in eastern Zambia's South Luangwa Valley. It is one of the nine recognised sub-species of giraffe.

The researchers were able to attach specific ages to coat colour changes. Change in male pelage colouration takes on an average 1.8 years. The males are completely covered with coal-black blotches at an average age of 9.4 years.

Journal Reference 
Darkening coat colour reveals life history and life expectancy of male Thornicroft's giraffes
P. S. M. Berry and F. B. Bercovitch,

Journal of Zoology, Article first published online: 8 MAR 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00904.x

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vehicular traffic and the use of highway edges by large mammals – Urgent need for holistic EIA

Impact of vehicular traffic on the use of highway edges by large mammals in a South Indian wildlife reserve
Sanjay Gubbi, H. C. Poornesha andM. D. Madhusudan

Here is a paper that is of great relevance to wildlife managers.

Expansion and improvement of transport and other infrastructure networks is a natural accompaniment to the economic boom that India is experiencing. The authors of this paper say that even though there are legally mandated assessments of the potential ecological impacts of such infrastructure projects prior to implementation, rarely are there any post-implementation assessments of their real ecological impacts.

The researchers present results of a preliminary study examining the impact of vehicular traffic on the usage of road edges by large mammals along a highway passing through Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Using triggered camera traps they estimated large mammal encounter rates on two consecutive sections of the same highway – one closed to vehicular traffic and the other open to vehicles only during daytime.

The researchers observed lower encounter rates of chital, gaur and elephants at camera traps in the highway segment with higher vehicular traffic density. They add that this is an indication of the fact that these species avoided busy highways. A more sustained monitoring over time is required for a better understanding of how these species respond to vehicular traffic along highways.

State Forest Departments do not take road kills seriously unless the animal killed is large. Hence systematic record-keeping of all mortalities due to road kills would provide the necessary data to assess and mitigate impacts of vehicular traffic on wildlife. There is an urgent need for scientifically designed wildlife crossing structures while planning highways through wildlife reserves.

 Based on their findings, the researchers emphasize the importance of continued ecological impact assessments of development projects to identify and mitigate unforeseen impacts. They make a fervent plea for an approach that integrates development planning with conservation concerns, especially where development projects coincide with ecologically critical areas.

The prevailing system of rapid EIAs by untrained people, often hired by project proponents themselves should be dispensed with. What is needed is rigorous and peer-scrutinized assessments carried out by trained wildlife biologists.  The country needs to invest in a more holistic process of development planning that includes – rather than ignores – the conservation of its priceless natural heritage.

I thank Annapoorna Daithota of ncf-india for sending me a copy of the paper

Monday, April 09, 2012

Book Recommendation

The other day Girish from Karnataka, one of the regular readers of this blog, wanted a recommendation of a book on Population Genetics suited to the needs of graduate students and wildlife managers. Here is my recommendation “Population Genetics for Animal Conservation”. The book was published in 2009.   This book integrates 'the analytical methods approach' with the 'real problems approach' in conservation genetics. If you have better recommendation please pass it on. Girish would be delighted to get your recommendations.

Population Genetics for Animal Conservation
Giorgio Bertorelle, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Michael W. Bruford, Heidi C. Hauffe, Edmund Mach Foundation, Annapaolo Rizzoli and Cristiano Vernesi
Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521685375

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Diversity of Sacred Lands in Europe – IUCN WCPA news release

‘The Diversity of Sacred Lands in Europe’, provides a unique insight into Europe’s often forgotten sacred natural sites. It looks into their history, importance and the threats they currently face. The book is a must-read for managers of European protected areas and landscapes and those interested in the religious and cultural aspects of European natural sites. Published by IUCN and Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services of Finland, the book is part of a series issued by The Delos Initiative of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas.

Authors of the book place special attention to the sacred places of the Sámi indigenous people living in northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and North-West Russia. They also describe sacred natural sites in Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, North-West Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

“Sacred natural sites hold traditional and spiritual values that are often hidden from the modern world and that are deeply linked to ecosystem and landscape management”, says Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN's senior adviser for social policy. “These values are extremely important for Europe’s cultural, spiritual and natural heritage. They include some unique knowledge of traditional medicine, livestock breeding, wildlife and agricultural cycles. Greater recognition of this knowledge and better management of these areas can help us sustainably conserve our natural heritage, especially in the time of increasing climate change.”

“The importance of sacred natural sites is rarely recognized these days and their values are often ignored in the face of expanding urbanisation and insensitive development initiatives”, says Josep Maria Mallarach, one of the editors of the book and coordinator of The Delos Initiative. “Tourism also puts pressure on these unique places, causing physical and spiritual degradation.”

“Integrated management of the sites and improved public awareness can help address these challenges”, says Thymio Papayannis, co-editor of the book and joint coordinator of The Delos Initiative. “Closer collaboration between the custodians of sacred natural sites and conservationists is crucial if we want to safeguard Europe’s unique natural, cultural and spiritual values of such sites.”

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Taking into account uncertainties should be a mandatory aspect to include in the viability analysis of populations

Disentangling effects of uncertainties on population projections: climate change impact on an epixylic bryophyte
Alejandro Ruete,Wei Yang,Lars Bärring,Nils Chr. Stenseth andTord Snäll
 March 28, 201210.1098/rspb.2012.0428Proc. R. Soc. B

Assessment of future ecosystem risks assumes great significance against the backdrop of climate change. This assessment should take in to account relevant uncertainty sources. Studying joint effects of climate variables and using modelling techniques that allow proper treatment of uncertainties becomes imperative.

Here the researchers investigated the influence of three of the IPCC's scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions (special report on emission scenarios (SRES)) on projections of the future abundance of a bryophyte model species. They also compared the relative importance of uncertainty sources on the population projections.

According to the researchers the whole chain global climate model (GCM)—regional climate model—population dynamics model is addressed. The researchers say uncertainty depends on both natural- and model-related sources, in particular on GCM uncertainty. Ignoring the uncertainties gives an unwarranted impression of confidence in the results. The researchers affirm that most likely population development of the bryophyte Buxbaumia viridis towards the end of this century is negative. Even with a low-emission scenario, there is more than a 65 per cent risk for the population to be halved.

The conclusion of a population decline is valid for all SRES scenarios investigated. The researchers say uncertainties are no longer an obstacle, but a mandatory aspect to include in the viability analysis of populations.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Herbicide may Induce Morphological Changes in Vertebrate Animals

Dr Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt's Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology has come up with the startling finding that weed killer, Roundup, can cause amphibians to change shape.  This is the first study to show that herbicide can induce unintended morphological changes in a vertebrate animal.

Predators usually induce tadpoles to change shape by altering the stress hormones. Similar shape changes were noted when tadpoles were exposed to Roundup. In wood frog and leopard frog tadpoles, Roundup induced relatively deeper tails in the same direction and of the same magnitude as the adaptive changes induced by dragonfly cues. 

The data suggest that the herbicide might be activating the tadpoles' developmental pathways used for antipredator responses.

Dr Relyea says collectively, these discoveries suggest that the world's most widely applied herbicide may have much further-reaching effects on nontarget species than previously  considered.

 Journal Reference:
Rick A. Relyea. New effects of Roundup on amphibians: Predators reduce herbicide mortality; herbicides induce antipredator morphology. Ecological Applications, 2012; 22 (2): 634 DOI: 10.1890/11-0189.1

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Wild Life of Our Bodies

Here is an interesting book that I finished reading yesterday, Rob Dunn’s book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies. Dunn is a biology professor at North Carolina State University. He writes about the microbes, pathogens, and various other microorganisms that have shaped human evolution.

Here is an interesting snippet from Dun. Dunn says the prevalence of Crohn's disease since the 1950s is due to the developed world's concern to avoid most kind of intestinal worms. This is not hearsay. The observation is backed by solid research.

Dun says in our bellybutton there are1400 species of bacteria, 600 of which are new to science. He adds it's like a rainforest out there.

According to Dunn appendix is an amazing organ.  All of us thought it’s a useless organ. The main role of the appendix is to act as a nature reserve for our good bacteria.  It’s also filled with a common antibody in our gut, the IgA. When we get some severe infection in the gut and it wipes out our native bacteria, the appendix is the reserve from which recolonization of the gut is effected. It is akin to seeding from natural forest says Dunn.

On the whole reading this book is great fun. Dunn is a fine raconteur. If you have time go for it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Here is a paradox - Norway is investing more than 13 billion dollars in dozens of companies linked to deforestation

Norway is pumping in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to protect rainforests. A great gesture by all means, but here comes the paradox. Norway is investing more than 13 billion dollars in companies linked to deforestation, via its pension funds.  This is 27 times more than Norway spends on rainforest protection. This is not hearsay. The allegation is in a report published by Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway. The investment is in seven controversial industry sectors, palm oil, oil and gas, mining, the meat industry, the logging and pulp industry, soy production and hydroelectric energy.

Read the report by Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway HERE

Friday, March 30, 2012

The importance of frugivorous birds in human-impacted landscapes

Species richness matters for the quality of ecosystem services: a test using seed dispersal by frugivorous birds
Daniel García and Daniel Martínez
Published online before print March 28, 2012, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0175, Proc. R. Soc. B

In ecological science the positive link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is an established paradigm. In spite of this importance we do not have much idea  of how different attributes of species assemblages condition the quality of many services in real ecosystems affected by human impact.

 Here the researchers explore the links between the attributes of a frugivore assemblage and the quantitative and qualitative components of its derived ecosystem service, seed dispersal, along a landscape-scale gradient of anthropogenic forest loss. The researchers say both the number and the richness of seeds being dispersed were positively related to frugivore abundance and richness.

Seed dispersal quality, determined by the fine-scale spatial patterns of seed deposition, mostly depended on frugivore richness. The researchers emphasize that richness was the only attribute of the frugivore assemblage affecting the probability of seed dispersal into deforested areas of the landscape.

The researchers contend that the positive relationships between frugivore richness per se  and all components of seed dispersal suggest the existence of functional complementarity and/or facilitation between frugivores.
 The researchers sign off with the following words “These links also point to the whole assemblage of frugivores as a conservation target, if we aim to preserve a complete seed dispersal service and, hence, the potential for vegetation regeneration and recovery, in human-impacted landscapes”.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Petition to Ban horrific Hare Coursing Cruelty in Ireland

Live Hare Coursing is a horrific form of animal cruelty. Majority of Irish people want it outlawed. In this sport hares are set up as bait for greyhounds to chase. Many hares are killed or horribly injured each year as they are mauled viciously on the coursing fields’. Some face agonising death as result of internal injuries and breakage of bones.

A member of Ireland's parliament, the Dail, will attempt in the coming months to have hare coursing banned. Irish conservationists desperately need people from around the world to petition the government of Ireland, requesting its support for this Bill. Each time a person signs it, an email immediately goes to the Taoiseach and Tanaiste (Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland) requesting their support for the Bill.
You can a sign a petition HERE

Here is video showing exactly what happens in Hare Coursing

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

General connectivity improvement and clearly localised connectivity improvement can be efficient compensation measures for area loss

Trading connectivity improvement for area loss in patch-based biodiversity reserve networks
Thomas Dalang and Anna M. Hersperger
Biological Conservation Volume 148, Issue 1, Pages 116-125

Here is a good paper on connectivity.
In densely populated countries it often becomes imperative to compensate for biotope loss by improving connectivity. Creation of new biotopes takes too long.

Here the researchers analysed four compensation scenarios. The scenarios vary in how strong loss and compensation is locally fixed. The reserve network was modelled as a graph.  Biotope patches are represented by nodes and connectivity corresponds to edges along which animals migrate from patch to patch. Connectivity improvement was modelled as a reduction of edge lengths. Ecological equivalence was measured by metapopulation capacity as defined by Hanski and Ovaskainen (2000). Localised modifications were analysed with eigenanalysis. Modifications spread over the whole component were analyzed with a linear regression model. This uses the total biotope area and the length of the minimal spanning tree as input. The results clearly showed that both general connectivity improvement and clearly localised connectivity improvement can be efficient compensation measures for area loss.

The researchers sign off saying that their results clearly show that connectivity improvement is a valuable compensation alternative to creation of new patches.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A video from EIA and Telepak

This video from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telepak documents forest depredation in Indonesian Borneo, and its impact on the indigenous Dayak Benuaq people.

Muara Tae Diaries from EIA on Vimeo.

Sacred natural sites of the world - IUCN WCPA news release

A new initiative to protect the sacred natural sites of the world
26 March 2012 | Article

Sacred Natural Sites are areas of rich and diverse nature that have special spiritual significance to individuals and to communities. They are important locations for supporting threatened human cultures as well as declining plant and animal life. They are considered the world’s oldest form of protected area and some are among the most charismatic places on Earth. At the heart of sacred natural sites are their custodians. These are the individuals, families and communities that protect these sites on a day-to-day basis. 

Many of these critical sacred areas have already been lost and many more are under threat. Modernization, industrialization, population pressure and changing values are all contributing to their disappearance. Urgent action is needed to protect those that remain and restore those that have been damaged.

For nearly 14 years WCPA’s volunteer Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA: ) and its partner institutions have been working to learn more about sacred natural sites and bring them to the attention of the conservation community. The objective has been to gain recognition, management and support particularly to custodian communities, leading to positive conservation outcomes.

Achievements to date include management and policy support but also over 10 international learning events and several publications. Notably are the Delos Initiative’s three volumes on sacred natural sites focusing on developed countries, the IUCN-UNESCO Best Practice Guidelines 16: Sacred Natural Sites Guidelines for Protected Area Managers – and the the book Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture.

An initiative dedicated to the protection, conservation and revitalization of sacred natural sites is now in its early stages of development. A preliminary action plan for the conservation of sacred natural sites has been developed based on consultation, experience and collaboration with many custodians and conservationists.

Custodian communities are of central importance to the conservation of the cultural and natural values of sacred natural sites. The initiative is proposed to support site custodians to promote, conserve and restore sacred natural sites protecting both biological and cultural diversity. To this end the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative focuses on:

Hosting custodians led initiative to bring their voices to a wider audience and provide practical support for conserving sacred lands;
Working with partners in the nature conservation community to promote and enabling environment for better support and management of sacred natural lands, landscapes and territories;
Engaging with stakeholders, sectoral interests and the wider public to promote awareness and respectful relationships.
Are you interested in finding out how you can help or simply want to learn more?
Please visit the website of the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, sign up for our news updates or contact us at info@sacrednaturalsites.org
Text: Bas Verschuuren and Robert Wild

Monday, March 26, 2012

Resolving challenges to interdisciplinary research should be context specific

New Page 1
Challenges to Interdisciplinary Research in Ecosystem-Based Management

Conservation Biology, Volume 26, Issue 2, pages 315–323, April 2012

There are many votaries for integration of natural and social sciences to inform conservation efforts. But the progress in this direction has been tardy.

The researchers here examined the views of 63 scientists and practitioners involved in marine management in Mexico's Gulf of California, the central California coast, and the western Pacific on the challenges associated with integrating social science into research efforts that support ecosystem-based management (EBM) in marine systems. They used a semi-structured interview format.

Questions focused on how EBM was developed for these sites and how contextual factors affected its development and outcomes. Many of imponderables linked with interdisciplinary research were present in the EBM projects that the researchers put under their scanner. The researchers say a number of contextual elements affected how mandates to include social science were interpreted and implemented as well as how easily challenges could be addressed. They say a common challenge is that conservation organizations are often dominated by natural scientists, but for some projects it was easier to address this imbalance than for others. They also found that the management and institutional histories that came before EBM in specific cases were important features of local context. There cannot be a one shot solution that fits all contexts. Challenges differ among cases.  The researchers affirm that resolving challenges to interdisciplinary research should be context specific.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What is a sacred natural site?

"What is a sacred natural site and what does it mean to you?"

This video is couple of months old. It was my discussion with my friend Ramesh, this evening that prompted me to post this video here. This film has been created by sacrednaturalsites.org an initiative of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas.

What is a sacred natural site? from Sacred Natural Sites on Vimeo.

Nature conservation - From stakeholders to stakesharers

Reframing the conception of nature conservation management by transdisciplinary methodology: From stakeholders to stakesharers
Gregor Torkar and Sue L.T. McGregor
Journal for Nature Conservation, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2012, Pages 65–71

 Nature conservation is all about dealing with human–nature interface problems. Here the researchers examine how the transdisciplinary methodology can help improve community-based conservation approaches.

 The researchers say transdisciplinarity is an extremely promising global movement that promotes a new approach to the creation of human knowledge. It includes dialogue among the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities as well as with civil society, where the problems of the world are lived out on a daily basis. The intent of taking down the walls between the disciplines and civil society is to enable new types of knowledge to emerge through complex and integrated, mutually learned insights.

 The four pillars (axioms) of the transdisciplinary methodology – multiple levels of Reality (ontology), the logic of the included middle, emergent complexity (epistemology) and integral value constellations (axiology) – are explained. The role each one of these axioms plays in reframing our conception of the conservation of nature is also dealt with in detail.

The researchers contend that a transdisciplinary methodology helps everyone feel as if they are stakesharers rather than stakeholders.

 The researchers sign off with the following words “Almost everyone is familiar with the term stakeholder, referring to someone who can affect, or can be affected by others’, decisions. To have a stake in something means people share or have an involvement in it. We coined the term stakesharer to reflect the idea that, within transdisciplinary work, people share ideas, solutions, threats and opportunities as they try to stake out their collective response to human–nature interface problems.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

China should be stripped of its "approved buyer" status for legal ivory demands EIA

According to the latest report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), approved legal auctions of ivory by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to Japan and China has increased, rather than decreased as promised, the illegal trade. EIA says the black market in China is flourishing. Up to 90 percent of ivory sold in China was in fact from illegal sources. Guangzhouis is the epicenter of the illegal trade. EIA alleges that the Chinese Government has profiteered from selling legal ivory. In 2008, the Chinese government paid around $157 per kilo of ivory, and then sold it to traders for almost ten times as much. This has turned topsy-turvy the whole calculations of the international community of conservationists. Legalising the trade has not given any positive results. The EIA unequivocally says China should be stripped of its "approved buyer" status for legal ivory, and has demanded for an independent investigation of the ivory trade in China.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Man-made noise affects plants also

Noise pollution alters ecological services: enhanced pollination and disrupted seed dispersal
Clinton D. Francis, Nathan J. Kleist,Catherine P. Ortega and Alexander Cruz
 March 21, 201210.1098/rspb.2012.0230Proc. R. Soc. B

Here the researchers examined the effects of noise pollution on pollination and seed dispersal and seedling establishment within a study system that isolated the effects of noise from confounding stimuli common to human-altered landscapes. They found that effects of noise pollution can reverberate through communities by disrupting or enhancing these ecological services. 

The study emphasizes that investigators should evaluate the ecological consequences of noise alongside other human-induced environmental changes that are reshaping human-altered landscapes worldwide.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Should the location of newly discovered species be hidden?

I just read this excellent article titled “Should the location of newly discovered species be hidden?” in BBC news. It is a thought provoking article that has to be read by all conservationists.

Giving the exact location of newly discovered species can mean exposing rare and vulnerable animals to the dark world of the wildlife pet trade, with catastrophic results. It is happening in many parts of the world. The article is a warning to scientists who broadcast from the rooftops.

Read the full article HERE

Genetically modified seeds and the decline of Monarch butterfly

 Decline of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico: is the migratory phenomenon at risk?

Insect Conservation and Diversity,Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 95–100, March 2012

 Latest research by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University indicate that genetically engineered corn and soybeans could put the iconic monarch butterfly in peril. The total area in Mexico occupied by the eastern North American population of overwintering monarch butterflies has reached an all-time low.

 Scientists say the decline in abundance is statistically significant using both linear and exponential regression models. Continued land development and severe weather are aggravating the situation.

Between 1999 and 2010 when GMO crops became a rage with the farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest.  Scientists link the decline directly to milkweed, the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars of monarch butterfly that is facing near extermination owing to the widespread use of genetically modified seeds.