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. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12297/abstract
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. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at
Dr. Petra Kaczensky
Research Institute for Wildlife and Ecology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
M: +43 6767379650
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
30.05.2017 | Life Sciences
30.05.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences