Thousands of endangered snails raised in captivity returned to natural habitat in Bermuda

first_imgDue mostly to predation by invasive species of carnivorous snails and flatworms, greater Bermuda land snails (Poecilozonites bermudensis) were driven nearly to extinction in their native habitat on the oceanic islands of Bermuda over the past several decades. In fact, the snails were believed to have disappeared altogether until 2014, when a small population was discovered.It’s believed that there are less than 200 of the snails remaining in the wild, but that population has now been joined by 4,000 individuals bred in captivity in the UK and reintroduced on Bermuda’s Nonsuch Island — a nature reserve with strict quarantine protocols designed to ensure that alien species detrimental to the snails will not be introduced to the island.Following the 2014 rediscovery of the greater Bermuda land snail, scientists at the UK’s Chester Zoo and the Zoological Society of London launched a collaborative captive breeding program for the snails at the request of the Bermudian government. Over the past three years, the breeding program has built up a population of the snails with sufficient numbers to begin reintroductions in the wild. Thousands of captive-bred greater Bermuda land snails are heading home.Due mostly to predation by invasive species of carnivorous snails and flatworms, greater Bermuda land snails (Poecilozonites bermudensis) were driven nearly to extinction in their native habitat on the oceanic islands of Bermuda over the past several decades. In fact, the snails were believed to have disappeared altogether until 2014, when a small population was discovered.It’s estimated that there are less than 200 of the snails remaining in the wild, but that population has now been joined by 4,000 individuals bred in captivity in the UK and reintroduced on Bermuda’s Nonsuch Island — a nature reserve with strict quarantine protocols designed to ensure that alien species detrimental to the snails will not be introduced to the island.Following the 2014 rediscovery of the greater Bermuda land snail, scientists at the UK’s Chester Zoo and the Zoological Society of London launched a collaborative captive breeding program for the snails at the request of the Bermudian government. Over the past three years, the breeding program has built up a population of the snails with sufficient numbers to begin reintroductions in the wild.Thousands of the rare snails have been returned to the wild. Photo courtesy of Chester Zoo.“It’s incredible to be involved in a project that has prevented the extinction of a species,” Gerardo Garcia, Chester Zoo’s curator for lower vertebrates and invertebrates, said in a statement.Garcia described the greater Bermuda land snail as “one of Bermuda’s oldest endemic animal inhabitants.” He added that “It has survived radical changes to the landscape and ecology on the remote oceanic islands of Bermuda over a million years but, since the 1950s and 60s, it has declined rapidly. Its demise is mainly due to changes to their habitat and the introduction of several predatory snails. Indeed, in the early 1990s, it was actually believed to be extinct until it was discovered again in one remote location in 2014.”Mark Outerbridge, a wildlife ecologist with the Bermudian government, joined Chester Zoo zookeeper Heather Prince and snail specialist Kristiina Ovaska in transporting the snails back to Bermuda for release. A select number of the snails were outfitted with fluorescent tags, a technique for tracking the snails that was tested by Ovaska and the team at the Chester Zoo. The tags will allow scientists to observe the snails’ dispersal across Nonsuch Island, as well as their growth rates, activity patterns, and population size — all of which will help monitor the snails’ success at adapting to and, hopefully, proliferating in their new home.Fluorescent tags will allow scientists to track the reintroduced snails’ progress in adapting to their new life in the wild. Photo courtesy of Chester Zoo.Further releases of the greater Bermuda snail and the lesser Bermuda snail, another species of land snail that is being bred at the Chester Zoo, are planned in the near future, following work to restore critical habitat on many of Bermuda’s offshore islands.“It has been tremendously gratifying for me to see [the snails] return to Bermuda for reintroduction,” Outerbridge said in a statement. “We have identified a number of isolated places that are free of their main predators and I am looking forward to watching them proliferate at these release sites.”Four thousand greater Bermuda snails, which have been bred at Chester Zoo, are being returned to the wild. Photo courtesy of Chester Zoo.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Mike Gaworecki Captive Breeding, Critically Endangered Species, Endangered Species, Environment, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Invertebrates, Molluscs, Reintroductions, Saving Species From Extinction, Wildlife center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Mysterious plants that thrive in darkness, steal food: Q&A with botanist Kenji Suetsugu

first_imgEnvironment, Forests, Green, Interviews, Orchids, Parasites, Plants, Research On Japan’s forest floors, there are plants that stay hidden and have given up on photosynthesis. These mycoheterotrophic plants are instead parasitic, drawing nutrition from the network of fungi running under the forest floor.For the past 10 years, Kenji Suetsugu, a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University, has been on a mission to identify and document mycoheterotrophic plants across the country’s. His surveys have uncovered 10 previously undescribed species of these elusive plants.In a brief chat, Mongabay spoke with Suetsugu about the strange world of mycoheterotrophic plants, why it fascinates him, and why it’s an important indicator of ecosystem health. When Kenji Suetsugu is out looking for plants in Japan’s forests, he’s not looking for the usual green ones. Instead, on dark forest floors, where little light penetrates, Suetsugu painstakingly searches for tiny flowering plants that have more or less given up on photosynthesis and lack chlorophyll, the characteristic green pigment that helps plants make their own food from sunlight.He’s drawn in particular to plants that are mycoheterotrophic: parasitic plants that take their quota of nutrition from networks of fungi under the forest floor, without giving anything back to the fungi.The problem, however, is that these plants are incredibly hard to find. They tend to stay hidden underground and show up above ground only to flower or fruit, barely peeking through the leaf litter. This means that pinpointing them requires top-notch plant identification skills, special forest-floor sleuthing abilities, the support of past experiences, and some chance encounters.For the past 10 years, Suetsugu, a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University, has been on a mission to identify and document mycoheterotrophic plants across Japan’s forests. In his surveys he’s uncovered 10 previously undescribed species of these elusive plants. A few of these species are especially unique, Suetsugu says, such as the orchids that never bloom.Gastrodia amamiana is one such orchid species that Mongabay wrote about recently. The plant, known from the islands of Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima, not only relies completely on fungi for nutrition, it produces flowers that never seem to open up. Flowers typically need to bloom for a plant to be pollinated by wind or insects and other animals. Yet despite this apparent lack of pollination by other agents, this orchid species still produces fruits.Gastrodia amamiana, a recently described mycoheterotrophic plant from Japan that bears fruit without opening its flowers. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.Suetsugu says that while mycoheterotrophic plants tend to stay hidden, their presence is a strong indicator of a forest’s health. These plants need fungi to survive, and the fungi in turn are nourished and supported by the network of trees in the forest that they’re in a symbiotic relationship with. Disturbances to forests can upset these networks, causing the mycoheterotrophic plants to disappear. In fact, many species are now rare and threatened with extinction, Suetsugu says.In one of the forests where G. amamiana was discovered, for example, Suetsugu has seen evidence of tree thinning. The dry soil resulting from this disturbance could dry out the fungi that the orchid depends on, he said recently in a statement.In a brief chat, Mongabay spoke with Suetsugu about the strange world of mycoheterotrophic plants, and why it fascinates him.Mongabay: What got you interested in plants?Kenji Suetsugu: I was born in Nara City, Nara Prefecture and grew up near Nara Park, which has a rich and unique biota. My early childhood experiences of this habitat stimulated my interest in biological interactions and the natural history of intriguing organisms in terrestrial ecosystems.Kenji Suetsugu is a botanist and associate professor at Japan’s Kobe University. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.When and why did you start studying mycoheterotrophic plants? What fascinates you the most about them?The color green is a defining feature of the plant kingdom, and plants are generally assumed to have an autotrophic lifestyle [capable of making their own food]. However, several lineages of land plants have evolved dependence on other organisms for their nutrition and can consequently be categorized as heterotrophs. Their bizarre morphology and ecology fascinates me.In fact, most terrestrial plants, from bryophytes to angiosperms, form mutualistic relationships with fungi, whereby the plant provides carbon source [or sugars that they make] in exchange for essential mineral nutrients. Mutualisms, including mycorrhizal mutualisms, are often characterized as a balanced, reciprocal arrangement for the exchange of resources between two distantly related organisms. Such relationships also provide a window for exploitation by parasitic species that can acquire a resource without providing anything in return. Mycoheterotrophs are dependent on their fungal hosts for the essential supply of carbon resources in which the normal polarity of sugar movement from plant to fungus is reversed.Therefore, mycoheterotrophs are an interesting example of cheaters. Unraveling the ecological and evolutionary processes that govern the transition of autotrophic plants to heterotrophic plants will provide the deeper understanding of the dynamics of the mutualism and parasitism. I have wanted to elucidate how and why plants have lost their photosynthetic capacity and have been studying them for more than 10 years.Could you tell us about your project to document mycoheterotrophs in Japan?The distribution and diversity of mycohetrotrophs remains underestimated because plants are easily overlooked in the field due to their short flowering seasons and small size. Therefore, we are investigating mycoheterotrophic flora to enable us to study further.Monotropastrum humile, a mycoheterophic plant, lacks chlorophyll and steals nutrition from fungi. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.How do you find a mycoheterotrophic plant?Since mycoheterotrophic plants are very difficult to find unless they are flowering when botanical surveys are conducted; trained skills are required to identify the species characters. Actually, discovery of these taxa requires rich experiences and knowledge. It’s difficult to convey this in a detailed way. No special tools [are needed to study them], but a species-rich and old forest can be an indicator of mycoheterotrophic plants.How many new species of mycoheterotophic plants have you described from Japan so far?10 species.Some of these species you’ve described have flowers that never open. Could you tell us about how these plants survive without sunlight and pollination by other agents?Actually, some species such as Gastrodia amamiana were particularly special discoveries because it is both completely mycoheterophic, deriving its nutrition not from photosynthesis but from host fungi, and completely cleistogamous, producing flowers that never bloom. Cleistogamy, literally meaning ‘a closed marriage,’ refers to plants that produce flowers in which self-fertilization occurs within closed buds. However, this is a somewhat risky strategy as the selfing progeny are also less able to adapt to changes in spatially and temporally heterogeneous habitats. The evolution of complete cleistogamy is somewhat of a mystery, since outcrossing should overcome the negative effects such as the accumulation of deleterious mutations and a slowdown in the rate of adaptation. The discovery of species with flowers that never open provides a useful opportunity to further investigate the ecological significance, evolutionary history, and genetic mechanisms underlying the mysterious evolution.What’s your favorite mycoheretrophic plant from Japan, and why?Gastrodia takeshimensis. This is the first species I discovered and described.The description of a new flowering plant species in Japan is itself a very rare event as the flora of this region have been thoroughly investigated. Gastrodia takeshimensis was a particularly special discovery because it is both completely mycoheterotrophic and completely cleistogamous. It was really a happy moment.What are some challenges of studying this group of plants?The rarity and ephemeral status of the plants are challenging.What do you think about the conservation status of the mycoheterophic plants you’re documenting? Are some of them rare and in need of protection?Given that mycoheterotrophic plants are highly dependent on the activities of both the fungi and the trees that sustain them, they are particularly sensitive to environmental destruction. Therefore, many of them are endangered and in need of protection The genus Oxygyne, which includes species like O. yamashitae, for example, has one of the rarest plants in the world.In fact, it has been suggested that the species richness of these mycoheterotrophs provides a useful indicator of the overall floral diversity of forest habitats. A detailed record of the distribution of these vulnerable plants thus provides crucial data for the conservation of forests.Suetsugu described Sciaphila sugimotoi from Ishigaki Island in a study in 2017. Image courtesy of Kenji Suetsugu.Banner image of Thismia abei by Kenji Suetsugu. Article published by Shreya Dasguptacenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more