Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia wildlife, new study


This 3 August 2015 video is about a recent study of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia wildlife.

About this, from Naturalis Biodiversity Center, in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Evolution peaks on tropical mountain

Posted on 12-08-2015 by Rebecca Reurslag

Tropical mountains have an exceptionally high number of animal and plant species. What caused this high diversity?

Mount Kinabalu is such a mountain. The 4,095 meter high mountain is on the world Heritage list of UNESCO and is home to hundreds of unique species. These species, otherwise known as endemic species, do not occur anywhere else in the world. The question how these species evolved triggered an expedition to the mountain in 2012. Are the species on top of the mountain relicts of animals and plants that used to live in the lowlands and valleys? Or are they young, recent evolutionary offshoots from lowland species adapting to the colder climate at the top? The results of the research are published in the high impact journal Nature.

The researchers collected a great variety of organisms: from snails, fungi and carnivorous plants to jumping spiders, stalk-eyed flies and reptiles, both from the summit and the foot of the mountain. All species were taken back home to Leiden to be analyzed in the DNA lab to unravel their evolution.

The researchers showed that most of the species that occur on the mountain are younger than the mountain itself. They also demonstrated that the endemic biodiversity consists of two groups. Some of the unique species drifted in from other areas such as the Himalayas or China, which were already adapted to a cool environment. The other endemic species evolved from local species that occurred at the foot of the mountain and gradually crept up the mountain where they adapted to the cooler conditions.

This is important for the protection of the endemic species on this and other mountains.. The unique species that evolved on the summit are often related to species that were already adapted to a cooler climate. Therefore it is likely that they are not very well able to adapt to climate change.

At the conclusion of a large scale expedition on the island of Borneo, researchers of the Malaysian nature conservation organization Sabah Parks and Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands collected some 3500 DNA samples of more than 1400 species. Among these are approximately 160 species new to science: here.

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.

Tanzania launches $14.5m plan to open up “wildlife corridors” across the country to curb urban encroachment: 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.