New Species Conservation Concept Used on Madagascar
"Preserving biodiversity in the midst of tremendous pressures, such as habitat destruction and global warming, is one of humanity’s greatest environmental challenges in the 21st century.”
Thus spoke Claire Kremen, of the University of California, Berkeley, concerning biologists' "conservation map", a new concept that they and a team of researchers have put to use on the African island of Madagascar, where some of the most exotic and rare creatures and wildlife of planet reside.
The idea behind the conservation map is to assess those parts of Madagascar most in need of environmental protection. Eventually, the technique can be applied to other parts of the world.
Due to the fact that approximately 80 percent of the species found on Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world, the island was chosen as a primary place of importance to draw up a conservation map.
Between 160 and 180 million years ago, Madagascar broke away from the mainland of Africa, leaving the species of plants and animals found there to develop in isolation from the rest of the continent. This isolation produced unique species. Madagascar is thus considered by biologists to be something of a laboratory experiment in evolution.
The international team of biologists and researchers was drawn from six different nations. Ants, butterflies, frogs, geckos, lemurs, and certain plants were among the most highly targeted species for the environmental mapping.
All told, 2315 species were targeted, and in a revolutionary approach to conservation the mapping project was designed to seek the preservation of every last one of them. Madagascar’s area is 226, 657 square miles.
Subsistence farming and charcoal production have felled large portions of the island’s thick forests over the last five decades.
One of the central tenets of the mapping project is that coming with conservation measures that focus on just one or two species does not do anything to protect other species that might be in need of preservation in the same or a similar geographical area or region.
Inhospitable terrain, torrential rains, and leeches were often faced by the researchers in the field in their quest to collect all the necessary data.
Madagascar is the planet’s fourth largest island and thus contains a wide array of different terrains including deserts, lowlands, highlands, mountains, and rain forests.
Once the mapping was done, computer software was utilized to let the scientists come up with “optimization analyses” that allowed them to most accurately design the most inclusive ways of protecting all endangered species in a given area.
Tags: Madagascar , Species , Conservation , Map
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