Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pollen Can Protect Mahogany From Extinction

04.04.2012
New research from the University of Adelaide could help protect one of the world’s most globally threatened tree species - the big leaf mahogany - from extinction.

Big leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) is the most prized mahogany timber around the world. It is at risk of extinction in its native habitats because of the timber trade, particularly in Central and South America.

To better understand how such a threatened species can be brought back from the brink of extinction, scientists from the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute have studied the important role played by the trees' pollen in the health and re-growth of mahogany forests.

The results of this study have been published online in Ecology Letters.

The researchers found that the extensive exploitation of mahogany forests has had a major impact on the diversity and availability of the trees' pollen. This in turn limits the ability of individual trees to grow and provide cross-fertilization for other mahogany trees.

"We collected data across seven Central American countries* which shows that trees remaining in cleared forest areas suffer from too much self-fertilization and low pollen diversity," says lead author Martin Breed, a PhD student with the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute and the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

"This results in less competitive seedlings and affects the rate of re-growth of the species."

Mr Breed says to restore forests would require replanting key species and finding good-quality seeds from healthy trees. "Growing new mahogany trees has proven a major challenge in the past. By better understanding the importance of pollen diversity, we hope this research provides the key to restoring forests at a much higher rate.

"Ensuring seed is collected from healthy populations will improve our chances of protecting not only mahogany, but the hundreds of other species - and human communities - that rely on it," he says.

Senior co-author Professor Andrew Lowe, Director of the Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity at the University of Adelaide, says: "Aside from being one of the world’s most prized timbers, every mahogany tree provides habitat for hundreds of animals and plants, so they’re ecologically very important."

He says this discovery has the potential to impact the way we think about restoring forests and shows us why it is vital to protect areas of high conservation value.

"Preserving areas where large populations of species have existed for the longest time not only assures the future of these iconic sites, but also provides insurance for entire species beyond the sites themselves," Professor Lowe says.

The project was largely funded from the European Union through the project SEEDSOURCE, with a portion of the funding coming from a grant awarded by the Australian Research Council.

Dr Carlos Navarro, who was employed by CATIE (the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) in Costa Rica at the time, was primarily responsible for directing the fieldwork and the collection of leaf and seed material used in the analysis and was the researcher who did the growth assessments.

* the seven countries are: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Media contacts:

Martin Breed
PhD Student
The Environment Institute
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 7032
martin.breed@adelaide.edu.au
Professor Andrew Lowe
Director, Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity
The Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 1149
andrew.lowe@adelaide.edu.au

Martin Breed | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.adelaide.edu.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>