Species in News: Saiga, Sasa kurilensis and New Fungi Species

Saiga Antelope

  • There is some good news for the Saiga, the critically endangered (IUCN) antelope of Asia’s steppes.
  • The smallest and most threatened population of saiga in Kazakhstan, where the species is mostly found, has experienced its largest mass calvingin recent years.
  • The saiga (Saiga Tatarica) is only found in one location in Russia (in The Republic of Kalmykia) and three areas in Kazakhstan (the Ural, Ustiurt and Betpak-Dala populations).
  • As the smallest saiga population in Kazakhstan, the Ustyurt population is at heightened risk of extinction.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga MOU) under the auspices of CMS is the only international instrument for the conservation of this critically endangered species.

Sasa kurilensis

  • Alpine plants growing in the mountainous regions of Japan have come under threat due to the sudden growth of dwarf bamboo, that has been aided by global warming.
  • The dwarf bamboo speciesSasa kurilensis blocks the sun’s rays and prevents other plants from performing photosynthesis.
  • It also absorbs a large amount of water, drying up the soil and preventing alpine plants from growing in wetland areas.
  • Moreover, rising temperatures are causing alpine plants to flower earlier, disturbing their balance with the insects that pollinate them.

New fungi species

  • A subterranean expedition by a group of researchers in China has led to the discovery of four novel fungal species on bat carcasses.
  • The four new species are Mortierella rhinolophicolaM multisporaM yunnanensis; and Neocosmospora pallidimors.
  • Neocosmospora pallidimors, according to researchers, is particularly important as the Neocosmosporagenus is known to contain numerous aggressive pathogens that can infect mammals.
  • One of the more alarming findings was that many infections related to Neocosmospora, which have previously been associated with human and animal mycotoxicoses (ingestion of toxins produced by fungi affecting liver and endocrine), are thought to be on the rise.
  • Other fungi species, T harzanium, is also important as it has suppressing capabilities and may have contributed to protecting bats against other infectious fungi.

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