Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Growing threats to biodiversity ‘arks’

26.07.2012
Many of the world’s tropical protected areas are struggling to sustain their biodiversity.
This has been shown by a study just published in Nature by more than 200 scientists from around the world, including Mark-Oliver Rödel from the Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity in Berlin. Mark-Oliver Rödel is a distinguished expert of the amphibians in West Africa.

The study’s Principal Investigator, Professor William Laurance, from James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, said that “these reserves are like arks for biodiversity. But some of the arks are in danger of sinking, even though they are our best hope to sustain tropical forests and their amazing biodiversity in perpetuity.”

Professor Laurance and his team studied more than 30 different categories of species—from trees and butterflies to primates and large predators—within protected areas across the tropical Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific. They estimated how these groups had changed in numbers over the past two to three decades, while identifying environmental changes that might threaten the reserves. The long-term experience of experts like Mark-Oliver Rödel was very helpful in this context. Laurance said the conclusion was that while most reserves were helping to protect their forests, about half were struggling to sustain their original biodiversity.

“The scariest thing about our findings,” said Carolina Useche of the Humboldt Institute in Colombia, “is just how widespread the declines of species are in the suffering reserves. It’s not just a few groups that are hurting, but an alarmingly wide array of species.” These included big predators and other large-bodied animals, many primates, old-growth trees, and stream-dwelling fish and amphibians, among others.

The researchers found that reserves that were suffering most were those that were poorly protected and suffered encroachment from illegal colonists, hunters and loggers. Kadiri Serge Bobo of the University of Dschang in Cameroon, Africa, said that it was not just what was happening inside a reserve that was important. “Almost as important is what’s going on outside it,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of the reserves we studied lost some nearby forest cover over the past two to three decades, but only two percent saw an increase in surrounding forest.” Deforestation is advancing rapidly in tropical nations and most reserves are losing some or all of their surrounding forest. The team found many nature reserves acted like mirrors—partially reflecting the threats and changes in their surrounding landscapes. “For example, if a park has a lot of fires and illegal mining around it, those same threats can also penetrate inside it, to some degree,” Ms Useche said.

The bottom line, the researchers say, is that a better job needs to be done in protecting the protected areas - and that means fighting both their internal and external threats, and building support for protected areas among local communities. Such efforts will help ensure protected areas are more resilient to future threats such as climate change.

“We have no choice,” said Professor Laurance, “tropical forests are the biologically richest real estate on the planet, and a lot of that biodiversity will vanish without good protected areas.”

For further information contact:

Professor William Laurance
James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Email: bill.laurance@jcu.edu.au
Phones: +61-7-4038-1518 and +61-7-4042-1819

Article details:

Laurance, William F., and 215 coauthors. 2012. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature, DOI:10.1038/nature11318.

Published online on 26 July 2012.

Contact at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin:
Dr. Andreas Kunkel, Museum für Naturkunde, Tel. +49(0)30 2093 8690 Fax. +49(0)30 2093 8561, e-mail andreas.kunkel@mfn-berlin.de

Dr. Andreas Kunkel | idw
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11318
http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New way to look at cell membranes could change the way we study disease
19.11.2018 | University of Oxford

nachricht Controlling organ growth with light
19.11.2018 | European Molecular Biology Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New way to look at cell membranes could change the way we study disease

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>