Malaysian coral reefs need more protection


This 2009 video says about itself:

In a vast, turquoise-blue corner of this Earth, the forces of nature have crafted a truly amazing underwater tapestry of corals. This is the Coral Triangle – ‘nursery of the seas’.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Most species-rich coral reefs are not necessarily protected

Published on 22 November 2016

Coral reefs throughout the world are under threat. After studying the reefs in Malaysia, Zarinah Waheed concluded that there is room for improvement in coral reef conservation. PhD defence 22 November.

One-third of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef are dead. This was the sombre conclusion drawn by Australian scientists six months ago. Pollution, shipping and climate change are destroying the world’s largest continuous reef, and other coral reefs seem to be facing the same fate.

Home country

PhD candidate Zarinah Waheed studied coral reefs in her home country Malaysia over recent years. She looked specifically at the coral diversity of these reefs and also at the connectivity between the reef locations. She found that the areas with the highest numbers of coral species are not necessarily protected.

94 species

During her research, Waheed examined how many species of three coral families – Fungiidae, Agariciidae and Euphylliidae – occur in different reefs spread throughout Malaysia. She made a number of diving trips in the region, together with her co-supervisor and coral expert Dr Bert W. Hoeksema of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. Before the diving trips, she first examined all specimens of the target species in the extensive coral collection held by Naturalis.

Coral Triangle

‘The eastern part of Malaysian Borneo is part of the so-called Coral Triangle,’ Waheed explained. ‘This is a vast area that is home to the highest diversity of corals in the world. Scientists have long suggested that diversity diminishes the further away you get from this Coral Triangle. This hypothesis had never been thoroughly examined as far as Malaysia is concerned. My research shows that this holds true based on the coral species we examined.’

Paradise for divers

Waheed discovered, for example, that Semporma, a paradise for divers in the eastern part of the country, has a total of 89 species of coral of the three families she studied. If you go further west – that is, further away from the Coral Triangle – the number of species drops to only 33 in Payar on the west coast of the Malaysian mainland.

Interconnected

Finally, Waheed investigated how the different Malaysian reefs are connected to one another. She did this by establishing how one species of mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis), the blue starfish (Linckia laevigata) and the boring giant clam that goes by the name of Tridacna crocea are genetically related within each of their populations.

Water circulation pattern

The three model species Waheed studied exhibit different levels of connectivity among the coral reefs. She suspects that this may well be due to the effect of water circulation patterns in the research area. ‘The larvae of the coral, the starfish and the clam can survive for a while before they have to settle on the reef. In the meantime they are carried by the currents and may settle in other coral reefs from where the originate.’

Coral reef conservation

Surprisingly enough, reef areas that have the greatest diversity are not necessarily the best protected. For example, only a limited part of the coral reefs in Semporna are protected under a marine park. ‘Reefs outside the park boundary are not protected. During our diving trips we regularly heard dynamite explosions. Blast fishing is an illegal practice and it causes enormous damage to the coral reef but it is nonetheless a way of catching fish.’ Blast fishing occurs not only in Semporna, but also in other coral reef areas of Sabah, Malaysia, and the Coral Triangle.

Tallest tropical tree discovered in Malaysia


This video says about itself:

8 June 2016

A yellow meranti measuring a whopping 89.5 metres has been found in a rainforest in Malaysia, making it the tallest tropical tree on record.

From New Scientist:

8 June 2016

Tallest known tropical tree discovered in Malaysia’s lost world

By Alice Klein

Behold the giant. The world’s tallest known tropical tree has been discovered in a rainforest in Malaysia, measuring a whopping 89.5 metres.

Gaming enthusiasts may be familiar with the species of tree – Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana) – which can be grown in Minecraft.

David Coomes of the University of Cambridge and his colleagues discovered the behemoth in one of Malaysia’s last remaining pristine wildernesses – the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, known as Sabah’s Lost World.

A laser scanner attached to the researchers’ aeroplane detected the tree while capturing 3D images of the rainforest as part of a project to map the region’s biodiversity.

Measuring the height of the tree was a big task. A local tree-climber clambered to the top with a tape measure to check it. While still at the top, he sent a text message to the researchers waiting at the bottom: “I don’t have time to take photos using a good camera because there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around.”

The tree is almost as tall as London’s Big Ben clock tower and beats the previous record holder in the tropics by 1.2 metres. However, it is not the tallest tree in the world – that title is held by a 115-metre-high coast redwood in Redwood National Park, California. The world’s tallest temperate region trees grow up to 30 metres taller than their tropical counterparts, although no one knows why this is the case.

Heavy logging by the palm oil industry has decimated Yellow Meranti numbers in Malaysia, and the species is now classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

“Logging has been a huge problem in Malaysia – the forests have taken a hammering over the last 40 years,” says Coomes.

However, there is hope for the majestic giants. The Sabah government recently announced that it would act to restore a heavily logged area just to the east of the record-breaking tree, as part of an initiative to preserve the region’s biodiversity.

Research shows that degraded forests can bounce back within 50 to 100 years, Coomes says.

“They can restore themselves without too much effort back into impressive, mature forests,” he says. “You could go back to the same spot in 100 years and you wouldn’t know you were in a secondary forest.”

Rare spider named after singer David Bowie


This video is about a Heteropoda davidbowie spider feeding.

From The Star in Malaysia:

Monday, 11 January 2016 | MYT 11:58 PM

Rare Malaysian spider named after late rock star David Bowie

PETALING JAYA: You may not know this, but a rare yellow-coloured spider that is only found in parts of Malaysia was named after the late rock star David Bowie.

The spider, discovered seven years ago by an individual named Peter Jager, is called Heteropoda davidbowie, according to a 2009 report by British newspaper The Telegraph.

The spider is distinguished by its large size and yellow hair.

Bowie was selected for the honour because of his musical contribution to [the ] arachnid world – the 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Jager said that naming spiders after celebrities drew attention to the near extinct species whose habitats are being destroyed due to human activity.

Bowie, who churned out era-defining hits like “Space Oddity“, “Young Americans” and “Let’s Dance”, died at the age of 69 Monday after battling with cancer.

This music video is called David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust, taken from ‘Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)’.

Beautiful blue banded bee photos from Malaysia


Blue banded bee

This is a blue banded bee photo. Ivan Cheah of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia made these bee photos. He was so kind to send them to Lizia in The Hague, the Netherlands, accompanied by notes:

Ivan Cheah wrote: “This bee is visiting this Lantana almost everyday. Guess this bee starting to recognise me… not so elusive anymore… allowing me to take a few shots of it. Not easy to take picture of this bee. Only those who tried or captured the picture of this bee will understand this.”

Lizia wrote: “It is the ‘Amegilla cingulata.’

Ivan Cheah wrote: “ Yes… precisely this is the same bee. This one from Wikipedia the blue color is not so significant, as bright and luminous as in my picture.

Blue banded bee in Victoria, Australia. Photo from Wikipedia

I think that one must be a female.

Females have four blue bands; males five.

Yup… this species is common in Australia… I think cross continental took place that’s why this species is also available in Malaysia. One thing I don’t understand is why this bee is always lone ranger… the most I saw before is only two of it at the same place.

Blue banded bee in Malaysia

My next hope is someday day I’ll get to see its hive… seriously if I get to see its hive it will be like I strike a lottery. Every time I see this bee I start asking myself… when will I get to see your hive?

Lizia: “It is a wild and solitary bee. You’ll find the nest of this lady if you have time to follow her.”

Comment on photo: Ivan Cheah: “Everytime I see it I will look at it attentively… to observe its behaviour. This bee is a very intelligent bee. Whenever I get near it… it will buzz erratically… funny thing is sometimes it will buzz just a feet from me for a few seconds … sometimes it will buzz away in a second… sometimes it will continue to collect the nectar. I guess… it stays because it’s hungry or else it will just buzz away … hahaha”

Lizia: “She must work hard, she can’t rely on others as she is solitary.” [ . . ]. “ Your ‘blue banded bee’ is very important for the cultivation of tomato-like plants (Solanaceae). Our domestic honey bee doesn’t like tomato or lantana flowers. The wild bees are important for the pollination of such flowers.”

Ivan Cheah: “I think this species population is very low… I don’t always get to see it. My worry is this species is very susceptible to extinction by pesticide since its population is so low as compared with honey bee.”

(Ivan Cheah / Cheah Lai Hoo (Ivan), Kuala Lumpur, studied at Indontgoto University)

Blue banded bee in Malaysia on lantana

Project Noah says: “The bees use a process that involves clinging onto flowers and vibrating powerfully, which causes the food source to shoot out.”

Project Noah says: ”Amegilla cingulata builds a solitary nest, but often close to one another.”

Malaysia is well aware of the value of ‘wild bees.’ The country developed a method of ‘trap nesting’ and managing wild carpenter bees to pollinate passion fruit (Passiflora edulis). (See: http://www.sugarbag.net/)

Dave’s Garden: “During fall, blue banded bee adults all die as temperatures cool within their nests. Before they die however, the female bees lay eggs within the nests which become immature bees called prepupae. They remain dormant, burrowed in the nest inside cell sacs throughout the winter months and do not emerge until spring brings warmer weather. Then they finish their development into adults and emerge into the warmth of spring and begin a new season of life [5].’” Read more here.

Lazy Lizard Tales: “Blue-banded bee (Amegilla sp.), Chestnut Avenue: “These bees pose virtually no threat to people. A sting from these bees feels like a mere pinprick and is extremely unlikely anyway. A neatly kept garden and well-maintained walls and brickwork will discourage them from nesting where people may contact them. It should be noted, however, that they should indeed be encouraged in gardens.” It’s important to recognise that among the many species of bees and wasps present in Singapore, only a select few pose any potential serious danger to people, and usually only in situations when a nest has been disturbed. Even when hornet or honeybee nests have been detected, simply avoiding the immediate vicinity is typically enough to avoid provoking a defensive response.“ http://lazy-lizard-tales.blogspot.nl/2013/12/beehive-hangs-from-woodlands-bus-stop.html (another Ivan)

Research has for the first time revealed the heavy metal secret behind an Australian bee’s unique approach to pollination: high-speed headbanging. In an effort that would put metal fans to shame, the native blue-banded bee has been filmed head banging flowers up to 350 times a second. The technique causes vibrations that release pollen into the air similar to the motion of a salt and pepper shaker, helping pollinate the flower: here.