Knowledge - RISC

Biodiversity

Dealing with mosquitoes in the rainy season

By RISC | 2 months ago

Everyone hates mosquitoes, especially in the rainy season. ​But urbanization provides hatching places for their larvae. Cities also give them lots of food sources, including you and your pet. ​Mosquitoes can be found all over the world, but especially in tropical and temperate climates. They grow from eggs into larvae, pupae, and adults. Adults, both male and female, feed on nectar from flowers or plants. But females feed on blood when they are 2-3 days old to provide protein and minerals for maturing eggs after mating. ​Anopheles carries malaria caused by plasmodium. Aedes carries Dengue fever. Both diseases can be fatal. ​So why not exterminate mosquitoes? ​Mosquito control is tough and in the long run can damage ecosystems. Mosquitoes are a source of food for a variety of animals. Without them, some species may suffer or die out. Controlling them can be done in a variety of ways, including covering water containers to prevent them laying eggs. You can also put chemicals in water containers or spray repellents on materials. Chemicals, however, can have undesirable consequences. Chemical-resistant mosquitoes can evolve. The chemicals can harm the environment. ​A sustainable way to reduce mosquito numbers without long-term environmental impact is biocontrol, such as keeping fish that eat their eggs and larvae in water sources. You can create a suitable ecosystem for dragonflies, whose larvae eat mosquito larvae or pupae. Adult dragonflies hunt mosquitoes too.Story by: Kotchakorn Rattanama, Biodiversity Researcher, RISC and Asia Lekkul, Intern from Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University​References: ​Department of Disease Control, Institute for Urban Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Urban Dengue Unit Guideline. [online]. Resource: https://ddc.moph.go.th/uploads/publish/1080520201216080456.pdf [20 December 2021]   ​Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University. 2021. MOSQUITOES. [online]. Resources: https://w1.med.cmu.ac.th/parasite/ความรู้เกี่ยวกับโรคปรส/7319/ [20 December 2021]   ​Benelli, G., Jeffries, C. and Walker, T. 2016. Biological control of mosquito vectors: Past, present, and future. Insects. 7: 52. doi: 10.3390/insects7040052​

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Why does urban biodiversity matter?​

By RISC | 2 months ago

Have you ever wondered why 90% of big cities are in fertile areas or near rivers? ​Before they became metropolises, their sites were chosen where crops would grow and rivers could supply fish. ​Urban regions are still crucial to economies. Cities accounted for up to 80% of GDP in 2019. They also host 56% of the world’s population and are set to have 60% by 2030 and 75% by 2050. Cities will surely continue to develop and spread, reducing natural areas and biodiversity. ​Loss of ecosystems eventually impacts more people than you might expect. Environmental loss will disrupt 44% of global GDP, according to the World Economic Forum. Four industries are especially vulnerable: ​• Supply Chains and Transport ​• Energy and Utilities ​• Retail, Consumer Goods, and Lifestyle ​• Aviation, Travel, and Tourism ​Biodiversity should be a major consideration in urban planning. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) is a concept that protects, preserves, and restores natural areas to provide the same infrastructure services as human-engineered gray infrastructure at a lower cost with additional benefits, such as using artificial wetlands for wastewater treatment, using plants to help absorb air pollution, and so on. ​Developing urban green spaces such as urban forests, wetlands, parks, green roofs, and green corridors is another technology that will improve the residential environment, which will benefit biodiversity and reduce the city's heat island effect as a carbon reservoir. All these factors will improve human well-being. ​Story by Thanawat Jinjaruk, Senior Researcher, Environment Division, RISCReferences: ​World Economic Forum. BiodiverCity by 2030: Transforming Cities’ Relationship with Nature. January 2022.   ​Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). ​

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Why We Can’t Let Mangroves Disappear

By RISC | 4 months ago

Mangroves are crucial habits for people, animals, and plants yet they’re shrinking and now total only 2.86 million rai.Mangroves grow in muddy areas, brackish water, or wetlands along river estuaries, lakes, and seacoasts. They be found in the eastern, central, and southern regions both on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Thai provinces with the most ​​mangroves include Phang Nga, Satun, Krabi, and Trang. They also grow at Bang Khun Thian, Bang Krachao, and Thung Prong Thong.Mangrove forests differ from terrestrial forests in how their plants suit the environment. The soil contains organic matter from humus and has lots of nutrients. The water is less salty than seawater but changes its salinity all the time with tides.Animals in mangroves are also different from those in terrestrial forests. They are adapted to the constantly changing conditions. The soil is cooler and has less oxygen. Water salinity keeps changing. Animals include invertebrates like shrimps, shellfish, crabs, which use mangroves as spawning grounds and nurseries.Mangroves also protect coasts from erosion as well as wind and storms. They absorb carbon too. Yet Thailand’s mangroves are shrinking. They are losing space and suffer from deforestation and other human activities... Shall we start to conserve mangroves? Or shall we let them decline so that our children can’t enjoy them?Story by: Kotchakorn Rattanama, Biodiversity Researcher, RISCReference:Department of Environmental Quality Promotion: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment​Department of Marine and Coastal Resources: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ​Royal Forest Department: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

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Forest cover and human survival

By RISC | 4 months ago

As we saw in the last article (https://bit.ly/3qqPepV), forest covered 31-32% of Thailand's 10 years ago. Let’s now look at data from around the world. ​In 2020, the world had about 40 million sq km of forest (about 4 times the size of China) covering about 31% of its land. This tree cover was 93% natural woodland and 7% cultivated forest. Here are ASEAN’s 5 most forested locations: - Laos is 82.1% forest (27,527 sq m/person). ​- Brunei is 72.1% forest (8,952 sq m/person). ​- Malaysia is 67.6% forest (7,145 sq m/person). ​- Cambodia is 52.9% forest (5,748 sq m/person). ​- Indonesia is 49.8% forest (3,387 sq m/person). ​Thailand ranks 8th in the world, with only 32.2% forest cover (2,378 sq m/person). ​Over the last 30 years (1990-2020), world forest acreage has continued to shrink, in 1990-2000 by 78,000 sq km/year, in 2000-10 by 52,000 sq km/year, and in 2010-20 by 47,000 sq km/year. We continue to lose forest but the rate is slowing. ​The world, though many natural events, now sees the importance of forests for food, ecosystems, biodiversity, water cycles, carbon absorption. But we must all focus on expanding forest areas. Thailand's 20-year national strategic plan targets forests covering 40% of land (up from about 31% now). Government agencies, businesses, and citizens must work together to increase forest to achieve this objective. ​Story by Thanawat Jinjaruk, Senior Researcher, Environment Division, RISC ​References:Forest Land Management Office, Royal Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. 2021. ​United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat (2021). The Global Forest Goals Report 2021  ​FAO. 2020. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020  ​

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Huge creatures have some abilities and habits you might not know

By RISC | 5 months ago

Elephants have been in our country for a long time... But these huge creatures have some abilities and habits you might not know. ​Did you know? Elephants can communicate with each other over several kilometers by sending and receiving low-frequency sounds that we can’t hear. They can also communicate using their trunks to touch and smell. They greet each other by wrapping their trunks like a handshake. They also use their trunks to flirt, to warn, or to surrender. Elephants can use their trunks to detect smells at a distance, alerting them to danger.The elephant's gray skin is about 2.5-3.0 cm thick. But they can sense insects or changes in the environment. That’s why we often see elephants pouring mud on their bodies. Mud acts like a sunscreen and prevents insect bites. It also helps elephants maintain their body temperature. Wrinkles give more space to keep cool and trap moisture.​The elephant's large ears help them balance. They flap their ears to create a gentle breeze, cooling their blood vessels. Male elephants may flap their ears to spread scent too.​Elephants have brains like those of a human, whale, or dolphin. They’re smarter than many animals. They can make sounds, play music, create art. They have feelings and thoughts. They show communal feeling and sympathy. They mourn for dying or dead companions.​Elephants live for 60-70 years on average. They have a gestation period of 22 months and have only one calf at a time. Baby elephants are the center of their family’s attention and require their mothers to care for them up to 3 years. Males and females live very different lives. Females spend their whole lives in a family or herd with strong relationships, with about 5-15 mothers, children, siblings, aunts. These groups are led by the oldest female. Large groups will split into smaller ones. Incredibly, these elephants can recognize which groups came from the same relationship.Adult males spend most of their time alone on the margins of the herd. Young males battle for domination. Only the strongest gets to mate. The less powerful male elephant will have to wait their chance.​Thai elephants are affected by habitat loss from forest encroachment and farming. Wild elephants come into conflict with humans, including illegal ivory trading. RISC hopes that you can appreciate the qualities of elephants. They have thoughts and feelings just like us.Story by: Kotchakorn Rattanama, Biodiversity Researcher, RISCReference from ​The Zoological Park Organization of Thailandhttps://elephantvoices.org/ ​Shoshani, J. (2006) Taxonomy, Classification, and Evolution of Elephants In: Fowler, M. E., Mikota, S. K. (eds.) Biology, medicine, and surgery of elephants. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0-8138-0676-3. Pp. 3–14.​

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Wild animals need living space

By RISC | 5 months ago

We all need space, whether for privacy or security. So do other creatures – and, especially, wild animals.Wildlife lives not only in the wild but also in cities, which are home to birds or snakes. Like us, they need living space.Birds in cities, for example, need refuges from humans. House sparrows, magpies, woodpigeons, and blackbirds need a 12-to-20-meter distance to feel safe, according to a study conducted in Madrid, Spain. Foliage can reduce this distance by providing shelters that make birds feel secure. Birds and other animals benefit from green places with multi-tiered vegetation such as trees, shrubs, climbers, and herbaceous plants.What about forest wildlife? What does it need?Elephants, for example, are an indicators of tree cover, because they need a lot of space. They eat 150-170 kg each day and can browse for 16 hours. Asian elephants (Elephants maximus) in Thailand need over 150 square kilometers of living space, equivalent to nearly 21,000 football fields, about the size of Koh Kud in the Gulf of Thailand. We can assess habitat for smaller species if we use elephants as a measure for habitat size.It's vital to provide a suitable area with enough food for city or forest wildlife to feel safe. We must also consider essential elements like species and plant structure, the ecosystem, climate, and terrain, all of which must be appropriate.We shouldn’t encroach on the territory of animals, whether on purpose or unintentionally, because we don't like it when someone violates our space.Story by Thanawat Jinjaruk, Senior Researcher, Environment Division, RISCReferences: Esteban Fernández-Juricic and Jimenez M.D. 2001. Alert distance as an alternative measure of bird tolerance to human disturbance: Implications for park design. Environmental Conservation 28 (3): 263–269.Williams, A. C. 2002. Elephants (Elephas maximus), their habitats in Rajaji-Corbett National Parks. PhD thesis. Rajkot: Saurashtra University.Elephants manual. Wildlife Research Division. Wildlife Conservation Office. Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. 2014

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How to decorate your garden with butterflies!

By RISC | 6 months ago

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to pick which butterflies visit your home? And you can…​Butterflies belong to the Arthropoda phylum, Insecta class, and Lepidoptera order. Thailand has about 40 families and 1,300 species. Bangkok has about 50 species. ​Their lifecycle consists of: ​- Egg: 3-7 days. ​- Caterpillar 14-35 days. ​- Pupa: 7-14 days. ​- Adult: 14-21 days. ​The food each caterpillar prefers decides where each species is found…- Common Tiger caterpillars eat crown flower and rosy milkweed leaves. ​- Pain Tiger caterpillars eat crown flower and cluster fig leaves. ​- Peacock Pansy caterpillars eat waterkanon and lippia leaves. ​- Leopard Lacewing caterpillars eat passionflower and passionfruit leaves. ​- Painted Jezebel caterpillars eat parasite leaves. ​If you grow the plants these caterpillars eat, you can attract butterflies to your home, although environment and topography also determine population size. ​Some butterflies, particularly when caterpillars, can be pests because they destroy foliage. Yet they also benefit the ecosystem by pollinating plants and benefit us with their beautiful wings. ​Butterflies can be spotted in city parks. In Bangkok you can learn about them at the Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium at Wachira Benjathat Park (Rot Fai Park). There are lots of varieties to examine and the staff are always ready to help. ​​Story by Thanawat Jinjaruk, Senior Researcher, Environment Division, RISC and Asia Lekkul, Intern from Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn UniversityReference: Forest and Plant Conservation Research Office, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation ​Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Department of Environment, Bangkok ​Jutaras, N., Sing, K. Wilson, J.J. and Dong, H. 2020. Butterflies in urban parks in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, Thailand. Biodiversity Data Journal. 8. doi:10.3897/BDJ.8.e56317   ​Ghazoul, J. 2002. Impact of logging on the richness and diversity of forest butterflies in a tropical dry forest in Thailand. Biodiversity and Conservation. 11: 521–541. doi.org/10.1023/a:1014812701423 

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