Best of our wild blogs: 22 Nov 14

Bats in my porch: 22. Mating again
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (21 Nov 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

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Buangkok residents and AVA in 2-hour stand-off over stray dogs

Linette Heng and Peng Hong Jin The New Paper AsiaOne 22 Nov 14;

Over the past week, Madam Helen Tan, 53, has been having sleepless nights.

The Buangkok resident has been feeding stray dogs in the area for the past seven years and now, her worst nightmare has come true.

From last Thursday to Saturday, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) was in the neighbourhood trying to capture stray dogs by laying traps.

The AVA said it was taking action against the strays because some residents had complained of being chased by packs of dogs.

Over the past year, it has received more than 120 complaints about stray dogs, mostly about them roaming in packs.

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President Jokowi to visit Riau to assess forest fire situation

Antara 21 Nov 14;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - The acting governor of Riau, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, said that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is scheduled to visit the province to inspect the forest fire situation in the region.

"The president will visit Riau on Wednesday or Thursday next week, particularly to inspect forest fires," Rachman stated here on Friday.

The acting governor held a meeting with the head of REDD+, Heru Prasetyo, the deputy of the unit responsible for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), Mas Achmad Santosa, and other related institutions.

Rachman further noted that Joko Widodos government paid special attention to the forest fire problem in Riau province. The Minister of Forest and Environment Affairs Siti Nurbaya inspected Riau to discuss ways to put an end to the blaze, as well.

"Their efforts show the seriousness of the working cabinet and motivate the local administration to solve and prevent forest fires," Rachman affirmed.

In addition, the REDD+ head expressed hope that the Riau Forest Fires Mitigation Action Plan is formulated post haste.

He wished that the action plan is drawn up within two weeks of the meeting. "It will be better if the plan is mapped out before President Jokowi comes to Riau," Prasetyo pointed out.

As many as 14 points of regulation will be included in the action plan. These will include the formulation of protection policies for areas that are prone to fires, among others.

Apart from establishing a peatland inventory team, the regulation will also define peatlands as conservation areas, in accordance with the Riau Area and Spatial Planning program.

Prasetyo emphasized that the action plan will also include recommendations and monitoring efforts that will focus on company involvement.

Furthermore, by implementing the action plan, Prasetyo hoped that the government and private parties figure out short- to long term ways to decrease the impact of the fires.

"We hope that fire mitigation costs are decreased by implementing the action plan," he remarked.

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Study: Environmental bleaching impairs long-term coral reproduction

eScience 20 Nov 14;

A new study by a Florida State University biologist shows that bleaching events brought on by rising sea temperatures are having a detrimental long-term impact on coral. Professor Don Levitan, chair of the Department of Biological Science, writes in the latest issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series that bleaching -- a process where high water temperatures or UV light stresses the coral to the point where it loses its symbiotic algal partner that provides the coral with color -- is also affecting the long-term fertility of the coral.

"Even corals that didn't bleach aren't reproducing at the levels they should," Levitan said.

Most corals reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the ocean during brief annual spawning events. The chance of sperm finding and fertilizing an egg depends on corals spawning in close proximity and in synchrony with each other.

In a study of the corals that build the major framework of Caribbean coral reefs, Levitan's team found that the species living in shallower water experienced near total reproductive failure, while the species living in deeper water was about half as likely to spawn.

"The remarkable finding from this study was that the reduction in spawning persisted for three additional years, long after the corals had regained their symbiotic partners and regained their normal appearance," Levitan said.

The worldwide decrease in coral abundance in combination with long-term reductions in spawning and reproduction following bleaching events put reef- building corals in a difficult situation. Eggs might be released, but never fertilized.

And that could have a major impact on the ecosystem at large.

Levitan's team has been studying coral that is just off the coast of Panama since 1996. And since then, those corals have been exposed to two bleaching events. On average, it takes coral three to four years to recover from bleaching.

"Even if we can fix what's killing these corals, it's going to be hard for coral populations to recover, because the surviving corals might not successfully produce enough offspring to repopulate reefs," he said.

The coral in that region is critical to building reefs, a crucial part of local ecosystems.

"There's a variety of reasons why people should care about this," Levitan said.

Coral reefs provide protection and shelter for many different species of fish. Without the reefs, certain fish are left homeless and without an area to reproduce. They also protect coastlines from large waves and flooding, a major issue in areas that are prone to tropical storms or hurricanes.

In the future, Levitan said his team would like to examine the quality of gamete production and also determine if corals that have already bleached are more or less likely to bleach again.

Levitan's graduate student William Boudreau, as well as Javier Jara from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and Nancy Knowlton from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, were co-authors on the paper.

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