Orange Clownfish – Species Spotlight

Orange clownfish

Orange Clownfish: Amphiprion percula

The orange clownfish is a popular fish in the pet industry and they have become further well known after the Finding Nemo movie (Who is looking forward to Finding Dory later this year!? 😀 ), although Nemo and Marlin are Amphiprion ocellaris (False percula clownfish). Amphiprion percula and Amphiprion ocellaris are often confused as they are so similar (and I do not claim to be an expert on clownfish), but can be identified by the number of spines in the first dorsal fin, with A. percular having  10 and A. ocellaris having 11.

These fish are within a group of fishes termed anemonefish. This is due to their mutualistic (both organisms benefit) relationships with anemones. The anemones protect the fish by detering/consuming predators with their nematocysts/stings, whilst the fish protect the anemones mostly from parasites. The anemones may also get some nutrition from the clownfish excrement, as the clownfish may potentially consume dead matter from the anemone.

Research suggests that they can swim about the anemone without getting stung due to a mucus secreted from the fish. A. percula has also been found to be toxin resistant to some anemone toxins, yet not all anemonefish seem to posses this quality (Mebs, 1994).

The Orange clownfish is not currently listed as endangered, although some populations may be affected by fish being removed from the wild to become pets or add to pet industry breeding stocks.

Mebs, D 1994, “Anemonefish symbiosis: vulnerability and resistance to of fish to the toxin of the sea anemone”, Toxicon, Vol. 32, No. 9, pp. 1059-1068.


Veiled Chameleon – Species Spotlight

Veiled Chameleon: Chamaeleo calyptratus

Veiled Chameleon

Found naturally across Yemen and Saudi Arabia, veiled chameleons are mostly green (like the one above) or brown, with a casque on their heads. They can also display a variety of other colours dependent on the situation, typically when frightened or excited. Their eyes are also very interesting, as they can swivel independently.

These chameleons typically consume insects, however they may also consume some foliage. It is thought that they may eat the leaves more for their water content, than for nutrition.

The veiled chameleon is not considered to be threatened and is considered a pest in some of its non-natural distribution: Veiled chameleons are considered invasive pests in Hawaii. They have also been reported in Florida, likely due to released/escaped pets. The veiled chameleons in Florida are considered exotic, but have not yet been listed as invasive (haven’t been found to cause significant damage) to my knowledge.

Bridled Tern – Species Spotlight

Onychoprion anaethetus

Bridled tern

Bridled terns are sea birds that can be found across the world, across many waters, islands and coastal areas, particularly around tropical oceans. The birds are also known to be migratory.They are carnivores, consuming a variety of fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and insects.

They are globally listed as being of least concern. However,although the broader species is thought to be secure, some populations may be more threatened than others. Some of their threats are human disturbance (particularly the disturbance of nesting sites and breeding colonies), predation and natural disasters.

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are benefits (typically in relation to people) that stem from ecosystems. Thus, ecosystem services are often highlighted when some people ask: why is conservation important? (particularly in terms of conserving ecosystems)

These services are easily explained across 4 categories:

Regulation Services

Ecosystem process regulate many things which we benefit from.
Some examples:

  • Carbon storage and cycling (which also indirectly aids the regulation climate)
  • Decontamination of natural water systems
  • Regulation of pests

Provisioning Services

Products that are created within ecosystems, that can be harvested/used by humans.
Some examples:

  • Food, including seafood
  • Medicine
  • Wood
  • Energy (energy created from biomass is the most obvious example)
  • Shells, feathers and other tokens used for fashion, decoration or worship

Cultural Services

Non-material benefits.
Some examples:

  • Recreational benefits (eg. hiking in a beautiful forest)
  • Spiritual benefits and historical benefits (eg. heritage and beliefs that involve nature)
  • Cultural benefits (eg. the use of nature in artworks, books and other media)
  • Educational benefits (eg. scientific discovery, and inspiration to young learners)

Supporting Services

Processes that are needed to allow for ecosystems to provide other services.
Some examples:

  • Soil formation and maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling

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

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.


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.

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).


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.



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: <>

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.