Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Borneo elephants: A high priority for conservation

20.08.2003


A new study settles a long-standing dispute about the genesis of an endangered species. With scant fossil evidence supporting a prehistoric presence, scientists could not say for sure where Borneo’s elephants came from. Did they descend from ancient prototypes of the Pleistocene era or from modern relatives introduced just 300–500 years ago? That question, as Fernando et al. report in an article that will appear in the inaugural issue of PLoS Biology (and currently available online at http://biology.plosjournals.org), is no longer subject to debate.



Applying DNA analysis and dating techniques to investigate the elephants’ evolutionary path, researchers from the United States, India, and Malaysia, led by Don Melnick of the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia, demonstrate that Borneo’s elephants are not recent arrivals. They are genetically distinct from other Asian elephants and may have parted ways with their closest Asian cousins when Borneo separated from the mainland, effectively isolating the Borneo elephants some 300,000 years ago.

In the 1950s, Borneo elephants had been classified as a subspecies of Asian elephants (either Indian or Sumatran) based on anatomical differences, such as smaller skull size and tusk variations. This classification was later changed, partly because of the popular view that these animals had descended from imported domesticated elephants. Until now, there was no solid evidence to refute this belief and no reason to prioritize the conservation of Borneo elephants.


Their new status, as revealed by this study, has profound implications for the fate of Borneo’s largest mammals. Wild Asian elephant populations are disappearing as expanding human development disrupts their migration routes, depletes their food sources, and destroys their habitat. Recognizing these elephants as native to Borneo makes their conservation a high priority and gives biologists important clues about how to manage them.


###
Research Article: Fernando P, Vidya TNC, Payne J, Stuewe M, Davison G, et al. (2003). DNA analysis indicates that Asian elephants are native to Borneo and are therefore a high priority for conservation. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0000006

Download article PDF at: http://www.plos.org/downloads/elephants_plosbiology.pdf

CONTACT:

Prithiviraj Fernando (corresponding author)
Columbia University
Center for Environmental Research and Conservation
1200 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
United States of America
212-854-9488
212-854-8188 (fax)
pf133@columbia.edu

Don Melnick (author)
Columbia University
Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and, Environmental Biology
1012 Schermerhorn Extension
1200 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10027
United States of America
212-854-8186
212-854-8186 (fax)
djm7@columbia.edu

Craig Moritz (editor)
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Integrative Biology
3060 Valley Life Sciences Building #3140
Berkeley, CA 94720-3140
United States of America
510-643-7711
510-643-6264 (fax)
cmoritz@socrates.berkeley.edu

Barbara Cohen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.publiclibraryofscience.org/
http://www.plos.org/downloads/elephants_plosbiology.pdf,
http://biology.plosjournals.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Rethinking the science of plastic recycling
24.10.2019 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems
04.10.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

Im Focus: A Memory Effect at Single-Atom Level

An international research group has observed new quantum properties on an artificial giant atom and has now published its results in the high-ranking journal Nature Physics. The quantum system under investigation apparently has a memory - a new finding that could be used to build a quantum computer.

The research group, consisting of German, Swedish and Indian scientists, has investigated an artificial quantum system and found new properties.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

AI-driven single blood cell classification: New method to support physicians in leukemia diagnostics

13.11.2019 | Life Sciences

Efficient engine production with the latest generation of the LZH IBK

13.11.2019 | Machine Engineering

Small RNAs link immune system and brain cells

13.11.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>