New fanged frog species discovery in Indonesia


This video says about itself:

17 February 2013

Male Rough Guardian Frog (Limnonectes finchi) protect their tadpoles. Look carefully and you will see the tadpoles on this males back, Danau Girang Field Centre, Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia. Endemic to Borneo.

From PLoS One:

A Novel Reproductive Mode in Frogs: A New Species of Fanged Frog with Internal Fertilization and Birth of Tadpoles

Djoko T. Iskandar, Ben J. Evans, Jimmy A. McGuire

December 31, 2014

Abstract

We describe a new species of fanged frog (Limnonectes larvaepartus) that is unique among anurans in having both internal fertilization and birth of tadpoles. The new species is endemic to Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. This is the fourth valid species of Limnonectes described from Sulawesi despite that the radiation includes at least 15 species and possibly many more. Fewer than a dozen of the 6455 species of frogs in the world are known to have internal fertilization, and of these, all but the new species either deposit fertilized eggs or give birth to froglets.

See also here.

Indonesian monkeys and trees, new study


This video is called Long Nosed Monkey : Documentary on Borneo‘s Proboscis Monkey.

By Leigh Cooper, special to mongabay.com:

Monkey sleep, monkey do: how primates choose their trees

December 31, 2014

Primates don’t monkey around when deciding where to spend the night, but primatologists have had a poor grasp on what drives certain monkeys toward specific trees. Now, two extensive studies of Indonesian primates suggest that factors in selecting trees each evening are site-specific and different for each species—and that some overnight spots result in conflicts between monkeys and humans.

“We have to understand what monkeys need [in order] to sleep to know what we have to protect,” said primate scientist Fany Brotcorne of the University of Liège in Belgium, leader of one of the research teams, in an interview with mongabay.com.

When monkeys choose their evening perch, they weigh more than just comfort. The main factors scientists suspect are safety from predators, distance to feeding grounds, human interactions, insect avoidance, and competition with other primates.

“Primates may be spending up to 12 hours at their sleeping sites, and yet we really don’t know much about them,” said Adrian Barnett of the University of Roehampton, in London, U.K., a primatologist not involved in the new work, in an email to mongabay.com.

The two unaffiliated studies occurred on neighboring Indonesian islands. Brotcorne’s team spent 56 nights in the Bali Barat National Park in Bali studying long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), a thriving primate species. In West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, primatologist Katie Feilen of the University of California at Davis followed the sleeping behaviors of endangered proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) for 132 nights.

Both groups noted the sizes and shapes of trees favored by the monkeys. Brotcorne’s group also measured the distance between sleeping sites and human outposts such as temples, tourist areas, or roads.

The proboscis monkeys returned each night to tall, isolated trees near rivers. The monkeys gather in trees that jut above the canopy to avoid predators and insects, believes Feilen. Predators can’t crawl from tree to tree toward the monkeys if the trees’ branches don’t touch. At the same time, the monkeys’ lofty—and windy—perches help them avoid malaria-ridden mosquitoes that tend to remain within the canopy.

“I think insect and disease ecology plays a bigger role in all these questions of primatology than we are all thinking,” said Feilen.

The long-tailed macaques snoozed away in trees near human-modified areas. Brotcorne suspects food availability was the main factor driving the macaques’ bunk choice. The monkeys scooted closer to a Hindu temple and tourist area where fruit, rice, and crackers abounded during the peak tourist season. The timing of their move also coincided with the start of the dry season and a decline in natural fruit production. The two teams reported their findings side-by-side this month in the American Journal of Primatology.

There is not just one evolutionary force influencing sleeping tree preference for primates, pointed out both lead authors.

“Both papers are significant in that they are showing the importance of sleeping sites in primate ecology,” said Barnett. “What is needed is a collation of data that is sufficiently broad to allow general theories to be put up [about sleeping tree selection].”

The distinct sleeping site chosen by the two species also influences the primates’ interactions with humans. Loggers preferentially remove the tall riverside trees favored by the endangered proboscis monkeys, threatening the species’ habitat, said Feilen. The proboscis monkeys she studied had to contend with deforestation by mining and palm oil companies. Also, local hunters knew where to find the predictable primates.

On the other hand, macaques and humans have competed for space and food in human-modified areas for centuries. But their close contact worries Brotcorne because diseases can cross from monkeys to humans and vice versa. Human food is not the healthiest diet for monkeys, she added.

“If you go to the tourist monkey forests, you will see obese monkeys,” said Brotcorne.

Citations:

Feilen, K., and A. Marshall. 2014. Sleeping site selection by proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. American Journal of Primatology 76: 1127-1139.
Brotcorne, F., C. Maslarov, N. Wandia, A. Fuentes, R. Beudels-Jamar, and M. Huynen. 2014. The role of anthropic, ecological, and social factors in sleeping site choice by long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis). American Journal of Primatology 76: 1140-1150.

Leigh Cooper is a graduate student in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Borneo orangutans saved by wildlife corridors?


This video is called 16×9 – Jungle Survivors: Saving Orangutans in Borneo.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife corridors could offer new hope for orangutans

Researchers from Cardiff University, University of Adelaide, NGO HUTAN, and Sabah Wildlife Department have been looking at ways to improve wildlife corridors in Borneo as a new method of protecting the endangered orangutan.

According to the researchers, more than 80 per cent of the primate’s habitat has been destroyed in the past 20 years due to demand for agricultural land, leaving the remaining forest fragmented, isolating orangutans from one another and resulting in a major threat to their survival.

The study highlights that establishing wildlife corridors that connect fragmented protected areas will allow animals to move freely from one territory to another. This will be beneficial to gene diversity, as it will minimise the negative impact of inbreeding caused by animals being forced to live in small, isolated territories.

Dr Benoît Goossens from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences stresses that the study should not be limited to orangutans, but can apply to other wildlife species affected by climate change and decreasing, fragmented territories. “In this study we used the orang-utan as a model, but the knowledge gleaned will be useful for other mammal species,” he explains. “The next phase of our research will focus on corridor establishment and enhancement by recovering riparian reserves from oil palm plantations, to inform land managers about best corridor scenarios.”

The research team included Dr Benoît Goossens from Cardiff University, Stephen Gregory, Damien Fordham and Barry Brook from Australia, and Marc Ancrenaz, Raymond Alfred, and Laurentius Ambu from Sabah Wildlife Department.

You can read the full paper, [in] Diversity and Distributions, here.

New conservation research conducted by Dr Matthew Struebig from the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology has discovered that up to 74 per cent of current orang-utan habitat in Borneo could become unsuitable for this endangered species due to climate or land-cover changes. However, the research has also identified up to 42,000 sq km of land that could provide a safe haven for the animals: here.

Do orangutans talk like humans? Lip smacking could hold key to evolution of language – Mirror Online: here.

Borneo rainforests, destruction and conservation


This video from Indonesia is called Protecting a Forest — and a Way of Life: Watching over Wehea.

From Wildlife Extra:

As Borneo deforestation reaches critical level a new protection area is established

According to data published by the Indonesian Forestry Agency, the deforestation in Borneo that occurred between 2000 and 2005 topped 1.23 million hectares, reports ProFauna, the Indonesian organisation for the protection of wild animals and their habitats.

This means that every day around 673 hectares of forest disappeared during that period.

Land conversion into palm oil plantation, timber concessions, industrial plants and mining activities are among the major triggers of the loss.

Despite the threats, there are moves afoot to halt the decline in East Borneo, 450km away from the provincial capital of Samarinda.

The Wehea Protection Forest encompasses an area of 38.000 hectares, 250m above sea level on the eastern part and up to 1750m above sea level on the western part, which means the vegetation varies from lowland forest to montane forest and supports 19 mammals species, 114 birds species, 12 rodents species, 9 primates species, and 59 invaluable types of plants.

One of the most valuable aspects of this forest is its importance to the lives of Bornean orangutans. In 2012, the head of the local environment agency, Didi Suryadi, stated that there were approximately 750 individual orangutans whose lives depend on the sustainability of Wehea forest.

Wehea Protection Forest was established in 2005. The governing board consists of government agencies, indigenous people, educational institutions, and NGOs.

Local people have also formed a ranger team, the members of which are young men of the Dayah Wehea tribe who take turns every day to secure the forest.

Recently, a team from ProFauna visited the Wehea people to establish ties to help with the conservation work.

The secretary of the village, Siang Geah, said: “We are very glad to have ProFauna in Wehea and hope that we can establish a positive partnership in protecting our dwindling forests.”

Conservation of orang-utans in Malaysia


This video says about itself:

8 May 2014

Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats, donated by the Arcus Foundation, Melvin Gumal – Protecting Borneo‘s iconic great apes: Conservation of orang-utans in Sarawak, Malaysia.

See also here.

New spider species discovery in Malaysian Borneo


This video is called Giant spider in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia at the Cultural Village.

However, there are also much smaller spiders in Malaysian Borneo.

From Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands:

Students on field course bag new spider species

Posted on 07-03-2014 by Menno Schilthuizen

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department, Pensoft Publishers

As a spin-off (pun intended) of their Tropical Biodiversity course in Malaysian Borneo, a team of biology students discover a new spider species, build a makeshift taxonomy lab, write a joint publication and send it off to a major taxonomic journal.

Discovering a new spider species was not what she had anticipated when she signed up for her field course in Tropical Biodiversity, says Elisa Panjang, a Malaysian master’s student from Universiti Malaysia Sabah. She is one of twenty students following the course, organised by Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands, and held in the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The aim of the one-month course, say organisers Vincent Merckx and Menno Schilthuizen, is to teach the students about how the rich tapestry of the tropical lowland rainforest’s ecosystem is woven.

Besides charismatic species, such as the orang-utans that the students encounter every day in the forest, the tropical ecosystem consists of scores of unseen organisms, and the course focus is on these “small things that run the world”—such as the tiny orb-weaving spiders of the tongue-twistingly named family Symphytognathidae. These one-millimetre-long spiders build tiny webs that they suspend between dead leaves on the forest floor. “When we started putting our noses to the ground we saw them everywhere,” says Danish student Jennie Burmester enthusiastically. What they weren’t prepared for was that the webs turned out to be the work of an unknown species, as spider specialist Jeremy Miller, an instructor on the course, quickly confirmed.

The students then decided to make the official naming and description of the species a course project. They rigged the field centre’s microscopes with smartphones to produce images of the tiny spider’s even tinier genitals (using cooking oil from the station’s kitchen to make them more translucent), dusted the spider’s webs with puffs of corn flour (also from the kitchen) to make them stand out and described the way they were built. They also put a spider in alcohol as “holotype”, the obligatory reference specimen for the naming of any new species—which is to be stored in the collection of Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Finally, a dinner-time discussion yielded a name for this latest addition to the tree of life: Crassignatha danaugirangensis, after the field centre’s idyllic setting at the Danau Girang oxbow lake.

All data and images were then compiled into a scientific paper, which, via the station’s satellite link, was submitted to the Biodiversity Data Journal, a leading online journal for quick dissemination of new biodiversity data, which is currently considering it for publication. Even though thousands of similarly-sized spider species still await discovery, Miller thinks the publication is an important one. “It means we provide a quick anchor point for further work on this species; the naming of a species is the only way to make sure we’re all singing from the same score,” he says.

Field station director Benoît Goossens adds: “This tiny new spider is a nice counterpoint to the large-mammal work we’re doing and having it named after the field centre is extremely cool”. The Danau Girang Field Centre is located in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a strip of rainforest along Sabah’s major river, squeezed in by vast oil palm plantations on either side. Despite intensive search, the students could not find the new spider in the plantations.

The notion of spiders using ants as bodyguards seems a bit contradictory, but that is exactly what occurs on the tropical forest floors of the Philippines. The jumping spider (Phintella piatensis) strategically nests within the vicinity of the aggressive Asian weaver ant (Ocecophylla smaragdina) as a defense tactic against its main predator, the spitting spider (Scytodes species): here.

Borneo is losing rainforest faster than anywhere else in the world: here.

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