1 Tahrcountry Musings: September 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Parents of all children should use ventilation while using a gas stove.

This post has nothing to do with wildlife conservation, but I thought what I am going to write has great relevance for parents with children.
A new study by Oregon State University specifically recommends that parents with children at home should use ventilation when cooking with a gas stove. The study showed an association between gas kitchen stove ventilation and asthma, asthma symptoms and chronic bronchitis.
Homes that used ventilation while cooking with gas stoves were 32%less likely to have asthma than in homes where ventilation was not used.  Asthma and bronchitis are common chronic problem in children.

The findings were published recently in the journal Environmental Health.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Social science and conservation

A Guide to Understanding Social Science Research for Natural Scientists
Conservation Biology, Volume 28, Issue 5, pages 1167–1177, October 2014

Conservationists are increasingly depending on social research to study and find solutions to conservation problems.  Conservation problems are commonly social problems.  To get maximum advantage conservationists should have an understanding of the philosophical principles and theoretical assumptions of the discipline, which are embedded in the design of social research. Here the researchers have developed a guide to assist natural scientists in understanding the philosophical basis of social science to support the meaningful interpretation of social research outcomes. The 3 fundamental elements of research are ontology, what exists in the human world that researchers can acquire knowledge about; epistemology, how knowledge is created; and philosophical perspective, the philosophical orientation of the researcher that guides her or his action.  The researchers’ sign off saying the use of their guide can also support and promote the effective integration of the natural and social sciences to generate more insightful and relevant conservation research outcomes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

We should develop awareness and even people's pride in the concept of corridor conservation

Moving Beyond Science to Protect a Mammalian Migration Corridor
Conservation Biology
Volume 28, Issue 5, pages 1142–1150, October 2014

It was with great fascination that I read this paper on corridor conservation in the journal conservation biology.  The scientists  argue that conservation scientists can and should step beyond traditional research roles to assist with on-the-ground conservation by engaging in aspects of conservation that involve local communities and public policy.

The focus of research is on a North American endemic mammal that relies on long distance migration as an adaptive strategy, the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) of the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The researchers found that the role of science in realizing policy change, while critical as a first step, was surprisingly small relative to the role of other human dimensions. The researchers built partnership between government and private interests and then enhanced interest in migratory phenomena across the landscape with divergent political ideologies and economic bases. By developing awareness and even people's pride in the concept of corridor conservation, they  achieved local, state, and federal acceptance for protection of a 70 km long, 2 km wide pathway for the longest terrestrial migrant in the contiguous United States. The paper holds good lessons for conservationists round the world. Go ahead and read it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fossils and the way to restoring lost island biodiversity

University of Florida scientists have discovered how fossils can be used to restore lost biodiversity. The scientist hit on organic materials found in fossil bones, which contain evidence for how ancient ecosystems functioned. The clues gave vital inputs for saving endangered island species and re-establishing native species.
The scientists say “A better understanding of species' natural roles in ecosystems untouched by people might improve their prospects for survival."
The details of the study appear in the September issue of Journal of Herpetology.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Road in Kutch sanctuary Okayed. Is it the right thing to do?

The wildlife board has Okayed, a road through Kutch sanctuary. The road was opposed by environmentalists and the previous board. The main arguments against the road was that it would, in all probability, result in the abandonment of the breeding site of flamingos and India would lose the only breeding site of flamingoes. There is also an argument that an alternate alignment which is feasible, cost-effective and easy to build is available. The environmentalists also say the proposed road would also eliminate the sacred grove of "Shravan Kavadia'', a unique mangrove system, found nowhere else in the world.

Tahrcountry makes a fervent plea to the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, to look in to all aspects before giving a final clearance to the project. The misgivings of the environmentalists have to be allayed. The common man should feel that tax payer’s money has been spent on a project that would take the country forward without compromising on environment. If more studies are needed it should be done. Development is the need of the hour for the country, but it should not be at the cost of destroying what is irreplaceable.

Friday, September 19, 2014

World's first microbe-powered, self-sustaining wastewater treatment system

Researchers from Washington State University have developed a unique method to use microbes buried in pond sediment for waste cleanup in rural areas.

The newly invented Microbial fuel cells use biological reactions from microbes in water to create electricity. The fuel cell does the work of an aerator and uses only the power of microbes in the sewage lagoons to generate electricity. In the lab the microbes were able to successfully power aerators for more than a year. The researchers hope to test a full-scale plant shortly for eventual commercialization.

The researchers claim that the technology could be used in underdeveloped countries to clean polluted water effectively at a cheap rate.

Details of the research appears in the latest issue of journal “Journal of Power Sources

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Newly constituted wildlife board of India – Now a signature campaign is on

As mentioned in my previous post, some of the frustrated men who have been left out from the new wildlife board had already started a whisper campaign against the new members. Now, if my Delhi contacts are to be believed, they have started a signature campaign against the new members. I am aghast by the puerile mentality of the guys. These old guys had usurped membership by their political clout for years. For them it was an easy way to flaunt themselves as champions of wildlife conservation and earn junkets to wildlife reserves. One of my friends invited a couple of years back, one of the aggrieved guys from Delhi for a conference. His first question was “Where am I going to be accommodated. I stay only in 5 star hotels. These guys are out of sync with reality in the field. They never bother to stay deep in the forest with the frontline staff and find out their problems. They want cushy accommodation in forest rest houses. I am delighted to see that the new Government under Narenrdra Modiji has broken the vicious nexus. The new sets of guys are dedicated and aware of problems in the field. They are never shy of getting their hands dirty. Tax payers money should not be squandered away to pander to the whims and fancies of the elite.

Monday, September 15, 2014

In praise of reconstituted National Board for Wildlife, India

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar have delivered a coup de grace to arm chair conservationists, while they reconstituted National Board for Wildlife, India. For far too long, arm chair conservationists from Delhi and Mumbai have been calling the shots entrenching themselves in successive boards, with their political clout.

The names of the members of the newly constituted board, reads like who is who of India’s best field men. They know the heart throb of India’s wildlife. An even better aspect is their thorough knowledge of the problems relating to protection and the hardships experienced by the frontline soldiers of conservation. I am sure all these augurs well for India’s wildlife. I have no hesitation in rating this as the best board India has seen to this date.

I wish the new members the very best in their endeavours to promote the welfare of India’s wildlife. I salute Narendra Modiji and Prakash Javadekarji for the excellent work they have done

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Whoa! 46 Centimeter Shrimp

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have posted several photos of a 46 Centimetre  Shrimp on Facebook.  The photo was taken by fisherman Steve Bargeron, who watched a fellow fisherman hook a massive crustacean at a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida.

                                                                 Pic from MyFWC's post | Facebook


Friday, September 05, 2014

Essential Readings in Wildlife Management and Conservation

There are certain papers which any aspiring or practicing wildlife professional should read. I read a few days back a wonderful book, titled Essential Readings in Wildlife Management and Conservation which is a compendium of forty-two such papers carefully selected, by two leading authorities in the fields of wildlife management and conservation, Dr Paul R. Krausman and Dr Bruce D. Leopold.
The book  is divided into four sections: the philosophical roots of wildlife management, biology, habitat, and human dimensions and contains the classic publications of  K. T. Adair, R. A. Baer, L. C. Birch, W. H. Burt, L. H. Carpenter, G. Caughley, T. C. Chamberlin, E. L. Charnov, L. C. Chase, F. E. Clements, L. C. Cole, J. H. Connell, R. N. Conner, Z. J. Cornett, P. D. Dalke, D. J. Decker, L. R. Dice, J. G. Dickson, D. F. Doak, P. R. Ehrlich, R. Y. Edwards, C. S. Elton, P. L. Errington, D. Esler, C. D. Fowle, T. A. Gavin, V. Geist, M. Gilpin, H. A. Gleason, J. Grinnell, J. P. Hailman, G. Hardin, N. T. Hobbs, C. S. Holling, S. S. Hutchings, D. H. Johnson, S. R. Kellert, R. H. Klopfer, B. A. Knuth, C. C. Kreuger, A. Leopold, R. L. Lindeman, C. A. Loker, R. H. MacArthur, J. Macnab, S. P. Mahoney, G. F. Mattfield, D. R. McCullough, S. L. Mills, A. J. Nicholson, J. F. Organ, R. T. Paine, G. Parsons, M. E. Richmond, S. J. Riley, S. J. Schwager, V. E. Shelford, W. F. Siemer, D. S. Simberloff, M. E. SoulĂ©, G. Stewart, J. W. Thomas, B. Van Horne, S. C. Wecker, E. O. Wilson
I recommend the book unreservedly.
Dr Paul R. Krausman is the Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana and past president of The Wildlife Society. Dr Bruce D. Leopold is a professor and head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tree frogs speed up life cycle when there is threat of being preyed on

We believe that events in the life cycle of animals happen consistently, with a set pattern. This view is going to be turned on its head with the latest findings on tree frogs. Researchers  Sinlan Poo and David Bickford of the National University of Singapore, Singapore, have  discovered that Hansen's tree frog (Chiromantis hansenae) speeds up its life cycle to hatch earlier once its eggs are preyed upon. 
Hansen's tree frog is found in Thailand and parts of Cambodia.

Details of the study appears in the latest issue of journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work.

Researchers from University of Exeter, University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and the University of Queensland, Australia, have come up with the finding that ‘Green’ offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than ‘lean’ designs stripped of greenery. The researchers monitored productivity levels over several months in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands.

Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, said:  “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.

“Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term. It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a lean office with clean desks is more productive.”

Co-author Dr Craig Knight, of Psychology at the University of Exeter, said: “Psychologically manipulating real workplaces and real jobs adds new depth to our understanding of what is right and what is wrong with existing workspace design and management.  We are now developing a template for a genuinely smart office.”

Professor Alex Haslam, from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, who also co-authored the study added: "The 'lean' philosophy has been influential across a wide range of organizational domains. Our research questions this widespread conviction that less is more. Sometimes less is just less".

Posted with inputs from University of Exeter

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A stark reminder - The death of the world's last passenger pigeon

I wanted to post this yesterday, but was tied up with lot of chores

On September 1, 1914, one hundred years ago, the last member of what was perhaps the most numerous bird species on the planet died in a cage in the Cincinnati zoo. 

                                                           Painting by John James Audubon

Monday, September 01, 2014

Lee Acaster - The overall British Wildlife Photography award winner – 2014

                                          Pic credit: BWPA
The Tourist: by Lee Acaster

The winning picture is by Lee Acaster, for his image of a Greylag Goose in London

Judge Mark Ward, Editor-in-Chief, at RSPB Nature’s Home Magazine commented “The winning photograph shows a familiar bird in a familiar setting, but the visual impact is extraordinary. The stormy, brooding backdrop sets a dramatic scene, while the orange and pink from the bird bring vibrancy to the monochromatic cityscape. Lee’s stunning photograph proves you do not have to travel far from home to capture the very best of Britain’s wildlife images.”