Brolga – Species Spotlight

Grus Rubicunda

Brolga 2Brolga 1

Sometimes referred to as the Australian crane, the brolga is a large Australian bird, typically over a meter in height, that can also be found in New Guinea. It is mostly a pale grey colour, with a red ‘cap’ on its head and down its face.

Brolgas are omnivores and they are diurnal (awake during the day). They are also well known for their dances during courtship.

The brolga is not considered to be a threatened species

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Endemic Species

What is an Endemic Species?

When something is endemic it is restricted to, or only found inside, a certain area. These areas can be entire countries, or small areas of only a few square kilometers.

An Example of an Endemic Species:

The fossa is a carnivorous mammal that can only be found in the wild in Madagascar. Thus, the species is considered as being endemic to Madagascar.

How Does Endemism Relate to Conservation?

Edemism and endemic species are often mentioned relating to conservation. When a species is only found in a certain area it can mean that if something happens to that area, resulting in population decline, there are no separate populations in another area to maintain species numbers. If a threatened animal, or a collection of threatened animals are endemic to a very small area (substantially smaller than a country), then this land may have a high value for conservation use.

Bush Stone-Curlew – Species Spotlight

Bush Stone-Curlew: Burhnius grallarius

Bush-stone curlew.JPG

The bush stone-curlew is a medium sized bird that walks upon two long legs. It has a grey-brown colouring to camouflage with its environment. The bird can be found in Australia, Papua New Guinea and some Indonesian Islands.

The bush stone-curlew is an omnivore, eating a variety of seeds and small animals such as insects and molluscs. The birds are mostly nocturnal, although they are occasionally seen during the day as well.

Threats

The bush stone-curlew is not considered to be threatened. Although, habitat destruction and predation by introduced predators, such as the red fox, may be negatively impacting some populations.

Migration, Emmigration & Immigration

What is Migration?

Migration is the movement of animals from one place to another. Some species periodically migrate between locations based on seasonal or day-length changes. But, migration can also refer to the movement of individuals regarding populations and other defined areas.

Migration is a two-direction process with animals leaving and entering an area or population. These two directions are indicated with the words emigration and immigration.

Emigration

Emigration is the outward-bound migration of animals, or animals leaving the defined area/population.

Immigration

Immigration is the inward-bound migration of animals, or animals entering the defined area/population.

 

Why is Migration Relevant to Conservation?

Migration is relevant to conservation on the individual level, as it effects population dynamics which could be monitored with threatened species to assess if aid is required to ensure stable populations.

Migration is also relevant on a species level because, particularly if the species migrates periodically with seasons, it may regularly reside in multiple countries, which can effect the diplomacy of conserving the species as international cooperation and protection may be required.

Komodo Dragon – Species Spotlight

Komodo Dragon: Varanus komodoensis

Komodo dragon

The Komodo dragon is well-known for being the world’s largest lizard, with some weighing well over 100kg, and growing up to 3m long. Yet, it can only be found on a select few Indonesian islands.

The lizard is a carnivore known to prey upon large ungulates, such as pigs and deer, although they are also frequently seen eating from carcasses they have not directly killed. They may also feed on carcasses in groups. Their saliva is also known to contain bacteria, and because of this it is has been debated that the bacteria may play a role in killing prey via sepsis, when it can subsequently be eaten, although the actual method behind this process is debated and it has even been suggested that the bacteria spreads between lizards (Bull et al, 2010). However a more recent theory is that the prey animals are more likely to bleed out, possibly assisted by a venom, than to suffer death as a result of a rapid infection (Goldstein et al, 2013).

Threats

The Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable. Although it is a dominant predator in its landscape, it has still attained a threatened status due to poaching and natural disasters.

 

References

Bull, J.J., Jessop, T.S. & Whitely, M. 2010, “Deathly Drool: Evolutionary and Ecological Basis of Septic Bacteria in Komodo Dragon Mouths”, PLoS ONE, Vol. 5, No. 6. Available online at: < http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011097>

Goldstein, E.J.C., Tyrrell, K.L., Citron, D.M., Cox, C.R., Recchio, I.M., Okimoto, B., Bryja, J. & Fry, B.G. 2013, “Anaerobic and Aerobic Bacteriology of the Saliva and Gingiva from 16 Captive Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis): New Implications for the Bacteria as Venom Model”, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 262-272.

Keystone Species

What is a Keystone species?

A keystone species is a species that has a strong impact on its environment or ecosystem. This impact is typically disproportionate to its abundance.

Examples

A common example is a predator that controls a herbivore, whose population growth would upset the balance of an ecosystem by consuming too much vegetation, or otherwise cause damage, such as erosion.

Another example of a keystone species are some Banksia species that are primary sources of nectar for some native Australian bird species.