Featured Post

Sunday, March 16, 2014

An update on what’s ‘new’ in the natural world

By Tom McLaughlin. Posted on March 16, 2014, Sunday   

This new species of scarab beetle was found in Sabah recently by a Czech Republic team.
— Photo by Ladislav Mencl

New crab named after a Lord

A NEW species of freshwater cave crab has been discovered in Gua Sireh in the Bidi cave complex near Bau. Named S cranbrooki, it is white to light yellow and lives in the dark zone of the cave.
Peter Ng of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research Centre in Singapore made the discovery. The crab was named after Lord Cranbrook, a zoologist who has spent many years in Malaysia (http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg).

Counting, counting…

According to Dr Jerrold L Belant from Mississippi State Univeristy in the United States, several methods of counting the number of carnivore mammals in the rainforest were explored in a recent article.
Interviewing locals was one consideration but the problem was how to separate accurate from inaccurate data.
Camera trapping requires “careful study and design, well considered placement in the field and a complex knowledge of advanced statistical tools to analyse data obtained”.

The parasitic wasp Wallaceaphytis is named after the naturalist Alfred Wallace. — Photo by Andrew Polaszek

Genetic studies, like collecting dung and analysing the DNA are very difficult under “tropical conditions and for secretive carnivores”.
Trapping has its problems because the type of trap, bait and location should be analysed before traps are set.
Attaching a radio collar tells a lot about the range of the animal, but it has been used only rarely in Borneo (http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg).

New wasp flies into history

A new genus of parasitic wasp, Wallaceaphytis, named after the Santubong naturalist Alfred Wallace, was made known to science recently. The wasp was collected during a field study exercise by scientists from the Museum of Natural History, London and Universiti Malaysia Sabah in the Danum Valley and Maliau Conservation Districts in Sabah.
The wasp is unusual because it is one of the largest parasitic wasps yet discovered, just under a millimetre. Parasitic wasps usually lay their eggs in the bodies or eggs of other insects. The juvenile then eats the host alive and emerges full-grown.
The parasitic wasp is very beneficial to agriculture because it keeps the pest population down. Wallace, along with Charles Darwin, is best known for the theory of evolution based on natural selection and spent much time in Sarawak (www.tandfonline.com, www.nhm.ac.uk).

New scarab

A new species of scarab was found in Sabah recently by a Czech Republic team. They are differentiated from other scarab beetles because they are equipped with six costae on each elytron.
A costae is the structure where the wing is attached while the elytron are protective coverings for the wings. They slide forward when flying and then slide back when the beetle is at rest.
The costae are arranged horizontally along the back and these scarab beetles have an extra one (www.fld.czu.cz).

Nymph in Kapit makes news

Two new species of dragonflies flew into the news recently. They normally inhabit the upper canopy and briefly occupy freshwater streams to lay eggs.
Leptogomphus risi was discovered along the Venus Trail in Singapore and an Leptogomphus williamsoni instar larva was reared in the lab after having been retrieved from a stream in Kapit.
Both were announced in a single paper by Robin Wen Jiang of the National Biodiversity Centre, Singapore and Rory A Dow of the NCB Naturalis, Leiden respectively (http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg).

Frogs, frogs, frogs

The range of the Wrinkled Frog (Limnonectes rhacodus) has been extended thanks to the hard work of Indraneil Das and Pui Yong Min of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas). Specimens were collected along the Belian Trail at Kubah National Park and the Batu Panggar region below the summit of Gunung Penrissen.
The discoveries extend the range of the frog 220km northwest of its last reported locality and to an elevation of 1,120 metres. This is the first time the amphibian has been reported in Sarawak. The authors speculate the species could probably be widespread throughout western Borneo.
In other frog news, the Masked Swamp Frog (Limnonectes paramacrodon), which lacks vocal sacs, was observed calling in a Singaporean marsh. Kelvin Lim of the National University of Singapore described the sounds as “fairly loud, sharp, rubbery squeaks of five to eight notes in rapid succession”.
The calls are repeated at intervals of five to 10 seconds.
To produce the sound the frog “thrusts its head forward with the hind part of the throat partially inflated, simultaneously vibrating the sides of the body”.
Another new species of frog was also discovered in Sabah. A team from Kytoto University, Japan headed by Dr Masafumi Matsui stated the frog closely resembles the Sarawakian species Leptolalax dringi found in Mulu, but differs in body size, calls and mDNA sequencing (www.checklist.org.br, http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg, www.mapress.com).

Teeth show orangutan movement

Nine isolated teeth from the orangutan have been discovered in Peninsular Malaysia. The teeth, dated to 500,000 years ago, show the ancient orangutan migrated successfully further south than previously thought.
The sequence of orangutan migration seems to be related to the environment.
Apparently, the area was heavily forested until 60,000 years ago when a dry corridor existed through the peninsula and into east Java. This caused extinction in what is now Peninsular Malaysia.
After the last ice age, the forests regenerated but the Straits of Malacca prevented migration to the peninsula while other water barriers stopped the orangutan repopulating from Borneo

Weaselling information out of weasels in Sabah

Researchers from Oxford University led by Dr Joanna Ross studied the Malay Weasel (Mustela nudipes) and found they live a diurnal life cycle. They have also been discovered to inhabit oil palm estates and disturbed areas.
The study took place in seven areas in Sabah. The weasel has avoided camera traps because the cameras are not located in areas conducive to hunting for this small carnivore, which makes images extremely rare.
Because they are so elusive, not much is known about this critter (www.smallcarnivoreconservation.org).

A new Asian aroid in Bau

A new plant species Schismatoglottis evelyniae was discovered in Kampung Tringgus, Bau by Wong Sen Yeng from Unimas and his colleague Peter Boyce.
There are 200 known species of Schismatoglottis, which are part of the Asian aroids also known as the Araceae (www.aroid.org).

The Malaysian Nature Society
Established in 1940, the Malaysian Nature Society is the oldest scientific and non-governmental organisation in Malaysia. Our mission is to promote the study, appreciation conservation and protection of Malaysia’s nature heritage. Our 5,000-strong membership, spread across 12 branches nationwide, come from all walks of life, bound by a comment interest in nature. For further information on membership or our activities in Kuching contact us at mnskuchinggmail.com. For information on our activities in Miri contact Musa Musbah (sammua@yahoo.com). You can also visit www.mns.org.my,
http://mnskuching@blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/mnskb.

No comments:

Post a Comment