Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Breaking down barriers – An appeal to conserve migratory ungulates in Mongolia´s grasslands


Mongolian and international conservationists, including researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna, have joined forces to raise awareness of the global importance of Mongolia´s steppes. The Gobi-Steppe Ecosystem is home to a unique diversity of animal and plant species, among them several large migratory mammals.

The scientists recommend reconciling the rapid infrastructure development that is currently taking place in Mongolia with the needs of migratory species, such as Asiatic wild ass and Mongolian gazelles. Their recommendations are published online in the journal Conservation Biology.

Mongolian wild ass are among the most mobile of terrestrial mammals, ranging over thousands of square kilometers each year. Photo: Petra Kaczensky / Vetmeduni Vienn

The Gobi-Steppe Ecosystem is world renowned for its populations of migratory ungulates, which cover great distances in search of forage. Researchers at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni Vienna have documented, that in just one year an individual wild ass can range over an area of 70,000 km2.

“Wild asses and gazelles have to be permanently on the move and travel very long distances to find enough food. Rainfall is highly variable in this region. As a consequence pastures are patchy and unpredictable in space and time,” explains Petra Kaczensky, one of the authors from the Vetmeduni Vienna.

Barriers to migration

Although vast stretches of land remain largely unaltered, migratory species face a number of obstacles that disrupt their journey and affect their ability to survive and reproduce in this highly variable environment. The main obstacles of the recent past are fences erected along the international borders with Russia and China and the Trans Mongolian Railroad.

The railroad fence now constitutes the de facto eastern border for the Asiatic wild ass, cutting the population off from its former much larger range to the east. Gazelles have also been largely restricted to either side of the railroad, but when they do attempt to cross they often get entangled or turned away. On its rapid path of economic development, Mongolia continues to build roads and new railway lines that are expected to threaten the ecological phenomenon of wildlife migration, if not carefully planned for.

Science can inform regional planning

Structural modifications could be made to fences, unnecessary fences could be removed in areas where there are no livestock, and planned railway lines could be re-routed to avoid sensitive areas. “We advocate a development process that minimizes negative effects on the integrity of the ecosystems such as following existing roads between villages to avoid large uninhabited regions while also incorporating the necessary designs so that they do not become new barriers; at the same time known barriers need to be removed,” says corresponding author Kirk Olson from Fauna & Flora International, a global conservation organization based in the UK. “Regional planners need to think big - meaning on the scale of the migrations,” adds author Nyamsuren Batsaikhaan from the National University of Mongolia.

A responsibility to link science and policy

Research into the movement and habitat requirements of the species roaming Mongolia´s Gobi-Steppe Ecosystem is ongoing, but needs to continue to identify potential conflicts between development efforts and biodiversity conservation requirements. Science can and should play a role in planning processes, according to Chris Walzer of the Vetmeduni Vienna, another author of the paper.

“It is also among the responsibilities of a university to provide that link between science and policy making. Scientists can provide constructive inputs in fields such as wildlife management and conservation,” Walzer emphasizes. “I think that if we do not translate our findings into practical advice that non-scientists can use, we have failed in our educational mission.” In the case of Mongolia, the authors are hopeful that joint efforts will lead to the preservation of the country´s outstanding natural heritage for future generations.

The article “Conserving the World’s Finest Grassland Amidst Ambitious National Development” by N. Batsaikhan et al. was recently published in the journal Conservation Biology.

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,200 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms.

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Petra Kaczensky
Research Institute for Wildlife and Ecology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
M: +43 6767379650

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>