Sunday, June 25, 2006

Continuing my blog

I'm back again. This week I will try to write more different things. Last week I had very busy and stressfull. Many things happened thus I stopped to write my blog.
But now I hope to find new interesting subjects to continue and ponder about.
But first... thanks once again to India for next set of inspiring images.
Here you have an interesting link to read:
Since Shawn Matthews had died we all need new publishers to tell us a lot of interesting things about this beautiful world.
And here is another link about living in Korea:
You can judge it on your own which blog is better.

Well... sorry that in spite of WorldCup2006 my blog is so far from this hot subject but you know - finally I am not paid for making it and noone should have any demands cause I am not doing any ordered job etc. My blog is my blog and I put here what is interesting to me and what can be useful for me - even in some parts. But I will also wirte some things about WorldCup soon:) Be patient.

So I have to write today that lately I have found a very interesting place on the Net that gives me lot of interesting things to read and topics to think about.
For example - have you ever thought over such idea?

my question is - is biodiversity of planet earth GENERALLY increasing or decresing during history of planet earth?
Do you have any datas?
Of course evolutional processes also should be taken into account.
Thanks for your clues as deals answer for my question.

and here are some answers:


arising of new evolutionary branches, as well as the seperation and spreading of many landmasses - islands and continents - and increased heterogenity in for example soil composition, have generally increased biodiversity over the ages
nevertheless.. there have been periods with decreasing biodiversity.. usually very strong, very abrupt and relatively short
we're experiencing one now, by the way... although this one has an unusual cause: humans .. and although it's a very strong decline, we don't know how long it will last

when my idea is:

You sound very interesting but... can you prove your statements somehow?
I mean give some numbers to make me sure you are right that generally the number of species increases during earth's history.
I would rather say it
oscilates in more or less the same number. But it is my INTUITION - not the result of any scrupuolus studies.
ps. people produce news species destroying others and generally species match to create hybrids and next new species.... so the general number of species would rather oscilate than increase - my opinion.

and the answer:

for the reasons i gave you, biodiversity has historically increased, i can add increased diversity of landscape, soil structure, fysical and chemical build-up and dynamic to the mix.. don't believe me, find the information... try google scholar
follow this link:

to an abstract, where it says that the global number of species has been rising substantially for the past hunder million years.. (basicly since the dino's got screwed)
i thought i made it clear that indeed, biodiversity has fluctuated, but that large decreases in biodiversity were generally abrupt, short and the consequence of large ecological disaster
have you ever seen the saw-shaped picture that represents the number of species over time? (i couldn't find it on google, but it has to be out there, good luck ) if you look at it carefully, you see that this pattern clearly.. long, slow rise of the ammount of species, followed the typical, strong, short decline and a slow, long rise again... if you find it, you will also notice the number of species reaches higher after every ecological 'crash'
as for the present economical disaster:

and my answer:

Thanks for your clues and articles but still I think problem is very complicated. really. I need some more time to read the article about tropical forests but you know - tropical forests cannot be a picture of everything whatever this everything is (my opinion).
Lately I have been reading a bit about contemporary exctintions. I also deal a lot of in ecology but models given there are rather new. Can we count geological biodiversity at all? (at this point I have to note that I have problems to open link about geological biodiveristy).
As deals current times - I am not sure the number of species is increasing.
Lets take the world today. Is it increasing today? In the past I am also not sure that the general direction of biodiversity was to become richer and richer.
I mean - one day planet Earth will finish. when? when biodiversity will be too rich? or maybe a meteorite will hit the Earth according to scientifical versions? I mean - I am very sceptical as deals idea of general increasing of biodiversity. Fluctuation - that's the ecological term that suits the best I think:)

and another answer:

the biodiversity on planet earth is thought to be at its highest peak right now; its expected that it'll start going down again.
A new mass extintion should be right around the corner
biodiversity has fluctuated throughout earth's history.

and then me again:

and what about current exctinctions? they do seem to be a big problem but you claim the general amount of biodiversity is increasing ( at the moment).
But think about invasive plants. They seem to be a big problem all over the world. Do you have any reliable scientifical datas to prove what you preach?


and other voices:

1. rather peaceful voice:

to my knowledge, i have said no such thing
the biodiversity is generally declining at a very alarming rate
where i said biodiversity generally increased, i was talking about tendencies over billions of years... not counting human interference

2. very upset voice:

how the hell do we know what the biodiversity level is?

This discussion doesn't seem to be over at the moment. I think such such forums on the Net are very useful. You can do two things at the same time - first is to discuss about very important things and second is to improve your English.

Below is another question that I raised on this noble forum full of different scholars:

Why mathematics - not philosophy is regarded to be the first science. You think mathematics is less philosophical?
i would like to see philosophy first cause in my opinion numbers are products of our imagination and they are as abstract as philosophy is.

You could never guess how many interesting answers, suggestions and ideas I found in this plot of mine!
Read me soon:)
Sorry for my language mistakes:)
To be continued soon:)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Problem of invasive plants

this short post of mine will be about problems of invasive plants. Yesterday I borrowed a book written by a woman who works in Department of Systemic Botany in my university about Polish invasive plants. It is all written in English and I will try to write more about ... healing properties of these Polish invasive plants soon. Becasue I think each disaster should have its positive meaning too.
So invasive plants are bad because they harm local biodiveristy but they can have healing/poisonosus properties and thus they can be generally usefull for human beings.

Invasive plants are valid problem for nature conservation. As deals international organisations enough to write that IUCN has even a special section for solving problems of invasive plants.
You can read more below about this section:

IUCN makes general worldwide list of invasive plants that contain the most invasive plants around the world.
Latest Polish list of so called kenophytes (invasive plants) comprises about 260 species.
I am not sure any of it is placed on IUCN list. I will check it soon.

To explain problem of kenophytes I would like to write that one of worldwide most problematic plants in different area of the world is... giant mimosa.
You can read more beneath:

A dense, thorny thicket is encroaching upon the biodiversity rich wetlands of Vietnam and Australia, threatening ecosystems and the livelihoods of the people who rely on them. Giant mimosa (Mimosa pigra), an invasive shrub from central and south America, grows in dense thickets replacing native vegetation in tropical wetlands.
In Australia, the shrub grows so densely that Aborigines who traditionally use the areas for food gathering can no longer pass.
In Vietnam the loss of biodiversity threatens the natural resource-based livelihoods of 55 million people who live in the Lower Mekong Basin. But humans aren’t the only ones suffering at the points of the mimosa’s thorns, several threatened species are at risk as well. The Mekong basin is home to nearly 100 globally threatened species, such as the giant ibis and sarus crane that are dependent upon these wetlands.

And here is a picture of m problematic mimosa :

Lets hope some Polish invasive plants have also advantages - not only disadvantages.
Read me soon:)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Theatened species - 2006 IUCN list


This entry of mine won't be about India. Not as much as I planned. It will be mostly about - hello Switzerland again:)
Why? I have already seen IUCN has released new red list of threatened species. For me it is rather important information because of many reasons.
IUCN is international organisation of nature conservation that has its seat in Switzerland. Very good choice. Nothing as great as Swiss Alps I think. Switerland also isn't too far. It is also touristic country. I want to go back to Switzerland!!!! Take care of wildife please. Don't devastate it. As deals India I found only few things on-line - but concerning Nepal. For example I have read a new book of rare and medically useful Nepali plants has been published lately.
On IUCN site I also found on-line version of Red list 2004 that has 274 pages!!!
Oh my God - who could remember that first red list started with ...about 30 species. Another thing is - who could believe it today?

Besides nothing new happened - THANK YOU India for your new pictures and jokes. Very nice as usual. Soon I will try to put some of them into my blog again:)

Besides - read the article beneath and read me soon:)

Release of the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals ongoing decline of the status of plants and animals

The number of known threatened species reaches 16,119. The ranks of those facing extinction are joined by familiar species like the polar bear, hippopotamus and desert gazelles; together with ocean sharks, freshwater fish and Mediterranean flowers. Positive action has helped the white-tailed eagle and offers a glimmer of hope to Indian vultures.

Geneva, Switzerland, 2 May 2006 (IUCN) – The total number of species declared officially Extinct is 784and a further 65 are only found in captivity or cultivation. Of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, 16,119 are now listed as threatened with extinction. This includes one in three amphibians and a quarter of the world’s coniferous trees, on top of the one in eight birds and one in four mammals known to be in jeopardy.

The 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species brings into sharp focus the ongoing decline of the earth’s biodiversity and the impact mankind is having upon life on earth. Widely recognized as the most authoritative assessment of the global status of plants and animals, it provides an accurate measure of progress, or lack of it, in achieving the globally agreed target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

“The 2006 IUCN Red List shows a clear trend: biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,” said Achim Steiner, Director General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). “The implications of this trend for the productivity and resilience of ecosystems and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people who depend on them are far-reaching. Reversing this trend is possible, as numerous conservation success stories have proven. To succeed on a global scale, we need new alliances across all sectors of society. Biodiversity cannot be saved by environmentalists alone – it must become the responsibility of everyone with the power and resources to act,” he added.

Melting icecaps …

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are set to become one of the most notable casualties of global warming. The impact of climate change is increasingly felt in polar regions, where summer sea ice is expected to decrease by 50-100% over the next 50-100 years. Dependent upon Arctic ice-floes for hunting seals and highly specialized for life in the Arctic marine environment, polar bears are predicted to suffer more than a 30% population decline in the next 45 years. Previously listed by IUCN as a conservation dependent species, the polar bear moves into the threatened categories and has been classified as Vulnerable. (Clarifications on the IUCN Red List threat categories can be found in the Notes to Editors).

… dying deserts …

Humankind’s global footprint on the planet extends even to regions that would appear to be far removed from human influence. Deserts and drylands may appear relatively untouched, but their specially adapted animals and plants are also some of the rarest and most threatened. Slowly but surely deserts are being emptied of their diverse and specialized wildlife, almost unnoticed.

The main threat to desert wildlife is unregulated hunting followed by habitat degradation. The dama gazelle (Gazella dama) of the Sahara , already listed as Endangered in 2004, has suffered an 80% crash in numbers over the past 10 years because of uncontrolled hunting parties, and has been upgraded to Critically Endangered. Other Saharan gazelle species are also threatened and they seem destined to suffer the fate of the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) and become Extinctin the Wild.

Asian antelopes face similar pressures. The goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) is widespread across the deserts and semi-deserts of central Asia and the Middle East and until a few years ago had substantial populations in Kazakhstan and Mongolia . Both countries have seen sharp declines because of habitat loss and illegal hunting for meat. The gazelle has been reclassified from Near Threatened to Vulnerable.

… and empty oceans

A key addition to the 2006 Red List of Threatened Species is the first comprehensive regional assessment of selected marine groups.

Sharks and rays are among the first marine groups to be systematically assessed, and of the 547 species listed, 20 % are threatened with extinction. This confirms suspicions that these mainly slow-growing species are exceptionally susceptible to over-fishing and are disappearing at an unprecedented rate across the globe.

The plight of the angel shark (Squatina squatina) and common skate (Dipturus batis), once familiar sights in European fish-markets, illustrates dramatically the recent rapid deterioration of many sharks and rays. They have all but disappeared from sale. The angel shark (upgraded from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered) has been declared extinct in the North Sea and the common skate (upgraded from Endangered to Critically Endangered) is now very scarce in the Irish Sea and southern North Sea .

As fisheries extend into ever deeper waters, the deep bottom-dwelling gulper shark (Centrophorus granulosus) is listed as Vulnerable with local population declines of up to 95%. This fishing pressure, for its meat and rich liver oil, is well beyond their reproductive capacity and sustainable fishing. Populations are destined to decline in the absence of international catch limits.

“Marine species are proving to be just as much at risk of extinction as their land-based counterparts: the desperate situation of many sharks and rays is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor of the IUCN Red List Unit. “It is critical that urgent action to greatly improve management practices and implement conservation measures, such as agreed non-fishing areas, enforced mesh-size regulations and international catch limits, is taken before it is too late.”

Freshwater fish assumes top slot on extinction list

Freshwater species are not faring any better. They have suffered some of the most dramatic declines: 56% of the 252 endemic freshwater Mediterranean fish are threatened with extinction, the highest proportion of any regional freshwater fish assessment so far. Seven species, including carp relatives Alburnus akili in Turkey and Telestes ukliva from Croatia , are now Extinct. Of the 564 dragonfly and damselfly species so far assessed, nearly one in three ( 174) are threatened, including nearly 40% of endemic Sri Lankan dragonflies.

“We need fish for food, but human activities in watersheds, through forest clearance, pollution, water abstraction and eutrophication are major factors influencing water quality and quantity. This has a major impact on freshwater species, and in turn on the wellbeing of riparian communities,” said Dr Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Coordinator, IUCN Species Programme.

In East Africa , human impacts on the freshwater environment threaten over one in four (28%) freshwater fish. This could have major commercial and dietary consequences for the region. For example, in Malawi , 70% of animal protein consumed comes from freshwater fish. The lake trout or Mpasa (Opsaridium microlepis) from Lake Malawi is fished heavily during its spawning runs upriver but has suffered a 50% decline in the past ten years, due to siltation of its spawning grounds and reduced flows due to water abstraction. It is now listed as Endangered.

As well as being an important source of food, freshwater ecosystems are essential for clean drinking water and sanitation. Over a billion people worldwide still do not have access to safe water. The continuing decline in wetlands and freshwater ecosystems will make it increasingly difficult to address this need and maintain existing supplies.

With their semi-aquatic habitat, dragonflies are proving to be useful indicators of habitat quality above and below the water surface. In the densely populated Kenyan highlands, where many rivers originate, the Endangered dragonfly Notogomphus maathaiae of mountain forest streams is being promoted as a flagship species to create awareness for their potential as “guardians of the watershed”. Protecting its riverside forests will also help the farmers of the foothills, by guaranteeing soil stability and a steady flow of water. It is very appropriate that this dragonfly has been named in honour of African Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, a tireless campaigner for the protection of the world’s natural resources in the fight against poverty.

95% decline of hippo populations in Democratic Republic of Congo – now listed as Vulnerable

Larger freshwater species, such as the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) are also in difficulty. One of Africa’s best known aquatic icons, it has been listed as threatened for the first time and is now classified as Vulnerable, primarily because of a catastrophic decline in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 1994 the DRC had the second largest population in Africa – 30,000 after Zambia ’s 40,000 - but numbers have plummeted by 95%. The decline is due to unregulated hunting for meat and the ivory of their teeth.

“Regional conflicts and political instability in some African countries have created hardship for many of the region’s inhabitants and the impact on wildlife has been equally devastating,” said Jeffrey McNeely, IUCN Chief Scientist.

Another casualty of political instability and unrest is the much less well known pygmy hippo (Hexaprotodon liberiensis), restricted to only a handful of West African countries. This shy forest animal was already classified as Vulnerable, but illegal logging and the inability to enforce protection in core areas has pushed it into ever decreasing fragments of forest. It is now classified in the higher threat category Endangered.

More comprehensive picture of threatened Mediterranean plants

The 2006 Red List includes additional species from the Mediterranean region, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots with nearly 25,000 species of plants – of which 60% are found nowhere else in the world. In the Mediterranean , the pressures from urbanization, mass tourism and intensive agriculture have pushed more and more native species, like the bugloss Anchusa crispa and centuary Femeniasia balearica (both Critically Endangered) towards extinction. The bugloss is only known from 20 small sites and less than 2,200 mature centaury plants remain.

The IUCN Red List – a wake up call to spearhead biodiversity action

But what can be done to halt and reverse the decline of the Earth’s biodiversity on which so much of our own well-being depends?

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species acts as a wake up call to the world by focusing attention on the state of our natural environment. It has become an increasingly powerful tool for conservation planning, management, monitoring and decision-making. It is widely cited in the scientific literature as the most suitable system for assessing species extinction risk.

In addition to being the most reputable science-based decision-making tool for species conservation on a global scale, it is being more widely adopted at the national level. At least 57 countries now use national Red Lists, following IUCN criteria to focus their conservation priorities.

Conservation does work

Thanks to conservation action, the status of certain species has improved: proof that conservation does work.

Following large recoveries in many European countries, the numbers of white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) doubled in the 1990s and it has been downlisted from Near Threatened to Least Concern. Enforcement of legislation to protect the species from being killed, and protective measures to address threats from habitat changes and pollution have resulted in increasing populations.

On Australia’s Christmas Island, the seabird Abbott’s booby (Papasula abbotti) was declining due to habitat clearance and an introduced invasive alien species, the yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes), which had a major impact on the island’s ecology. The booby, listed as Critically Endangered in 2004, is recovering thanks to conservation measures and has now moved down a category to Endangered.

Other plants and animals highlighted in previous Red List announcements are now the focus of concerted conservation actions, which should lead to an improvement in their conservation status in the near future.

The 300 kg Mekong Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) of South-east Asia is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and was listed as Critically Endangered in 2003. Adopted as one of four flagship species by the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity and Sustainable Use Programme, it is the focus of regional co-operation on fisheries management issues and conservation activities.

Swift action since the dramatic 97% population crash of the Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus), listed as Critically Endangered in 2002, means that the future for this and related species is more secure. The veterinary drug that unintentionally poisoned them, diclofenac, is now banned in India . A promising substitute has been found and captive breeding assurance colonies will be used for a re-introduction programme.

Many other species, such as the humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) (listed as Endangered since 2004), Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) (listed as Critically Endangered since 2002) are also the subject of concerted conservation campaigns.

“These examples show that conservation measures are making a difference,” concluded Achim Steiner. “What we need is more of them. Conservation successes document that we should not be passive by-standers in the unfolding tragedy of biodiversity loss and species extinction. IUCN together with the many actors in the global conservation community will continue to advocate greater investments in biodiversity and to mobilize new coalitions across all sectors of society.”

Saturday, June 03, 2006

India rocks again

Nice to write here again:) Though I have to say I am bit... shocked lately. They say that one guy who wrote some rude remarks on my blog some time ago (his name is Shawn Matthews) jumped out of the window and committed suicide several days ago. I don't know if it is truth or another stupid net-joke. I liked reading his blog from time to time and I even printed out several pages of his book about teaching in Korea where he described Korean cats and death of one of them. It is good to practice English and probably learn more about different countries and cultures. Very useful book. If he really jumped - very pity you have to admit.

Wow - but today I would like to present some things one guy from India has sent to me.
Of course he sent to me much more pictures but these ones I have chosen as my favourite ones. The pictures below can be divided into two groups. First group is "ONLY IN" where you can see how hard is life in some countries and how funny in others.
The second group of pictures that was sent to me from India is about gardening. Look out - strange things can be done with plants in your gardens. I hope you will like it!:)

So let's start:

only in India

only in Pakistan

only in Indonesia

only in Bangladesh

only in China

only in Hawaii

only in Australia

only in Japan

And below admire interesting garden-styles:)

Aren't these garden-styles really great?
OK. Soon I will send you more pictures from India.
Besides you will see pictures from South America. Specially from Chile. In Chile lives my favourite chat-companion and I will try to write to you more things both about Andes and Atacama desert when only I will finish reading them!:) People in Chile speak Spanish which I don't speak at all and they are really nice people who love singing very much. Just like me:)
PS1. Maybe my blog isn't too interesting but I am not writing it for such purposes and some comments should have been removed by me from it if I only could do this:)
PS2. BIG THANKS to all people who have been sending fine pictures to me and thus who make me bit wiser person all in all:) God bless you all and you are always welcomed in my e-box:)
PS3. Soon after Chile I will write some info about river Nile in Africa. Today I have seen a documentary about this African river that was very interesting.
Read me soon:)