Endangered Species

by Kristian Marinez

 lemur Mouse lemur contemplating its existence.

Who global warming affects.

When most people think of endangered mammals threatened by global warming they think of polar bears on melting glaciers. That’s not the most serious case. Most endangered mammals are actually tropical animals in warm climates. Instead of a polar bear being endangered from global warming it can most likely be a mouse lemur in Madagascar. I am interested in the endangerment of mammals simply because they are breathtaking creatures. They think and feel just like us humans do and it’s a shame that a whole lot of them are endangered. It’s interesting to find out the reason for their endangerment instead of just knowing that they’re endangered.

 

Where mammals are endangered and how many are endangered.

The data to support the reasons for mammals endangerment come from the World Bank and informs us with how many mammals are endangered and in which regions endangered mammals can be found. The graph below shows the highest numbers of endangered mammal species (organized from greatest to least) and their region. The  two regions with the most endangered mammal species are East Asia & the Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. These regions have a staggering 891 endangered mammals each. The third highest region, Latin America & Central Asia, has 640 endangered mammals. The fourth highest region with the amount of endangered mammals is Europe & Central Asia, with 307 endangered mammals. The three regions with the least amount of endangered mammals have less than 300 mammals each. South Asia has 249 mammals, Arab world has 217 mammals, and Middle East & North Africa have 203 mammals.

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How global warming affects endangered mammals.

From this data, there is a noticeable pattern of a high number of mammals endangered in hot/tropical regions, like Mexico, Madagascar, and Asia, as compared to cooler regions like the Middle East & North Africa. We notice this trend because an increase in temperature (like that caused by global warming) by even a small amount can affect mammals in tropical climates since they are less resilient to heat change. This is because these species are accustomed to living in a certain temperature range, and once this range is surpassed, these animals have a hard time living. For example, global warming cause mouse lemurs to shift habitats and find a different way to obtain food than before.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150226-what-hope-is-there-for-madagascars-threatened-lemurs

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/03/global-warmings.html

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.MAM.THRD.NO

http://a-z-animals.com/animals/grey-mouse-lemur/pictures/4167/

Jungle Rhythms!

 by Ronnie Ovando (a 2016 Adler Astro-Journalist)

When stepping through the Zooniverse citizen science project “Jungle Rhythms,” it feels as if one is playing a Nancy Drew or Sherlock video game. The project contains a bunch of old documents relating to tree life cycles between the 1930’s – 1950’s. The goal is to be able to interpret the hand written documents that have lost their color due to old age. The documents are designed to be like calendars, to be labeled according to what happened that particular year to the tree. The video game-like challenge comes from having to be detail-oriented in order to understand and catch the little markings with the documents.

The African rainforest is said to “store up to 66 Pg (Picograms) of carbon,” according to the project’s home page. Scientists at Jungle Rhythms are concerned for how this will affect or effect climate change, and how exactly weather conditions can alter the forest. For example, droughts can severely affect structure and function. By using the documents and knowledge of the rainforest’s weather history, the participants can possibly figure out how trees react to weather.

How did the Jungle Rhythms scientists collect this documented history of tree cycles? Between 1937 and 1958, researchers at Yangambi research station studied over 2000 trees. They all recorded data that dealt with life cycles (also known as phenology) such as fruit development, leaf growing, etc. The data was organized in calendar-like tables, which have sections that are separated into years. The original copies were made digital in order to translate without ruining the hand written documents.

Transcribing the documents seems like a job only for scientists, but the skills needed for this task are common. The home page states “The human eye and brain is finely tuned to finding patterns and picking up these slight nuances in shading.” Essentially, our brains are wired to do this! In order be a successful citizen scientist, one also must have a good base in knowledge of the trees in the African rainforest in order to understand the context of the data.

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“A Summary Table” – Jungle Rhythms

 

The picture above is an example of how the documents look and are organized. It’s almost calendar-like, expect with listing years instead of just months. Each section listed is divided by 6 months, and at the far left are the names of the trees being recorded. Within those sections, data is represented by lines, crosses, or other types of marks. Very few words are used.

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“Tombe Writing – Jungle Rhythms”

Here’s a good example of writing within one of the tables. The writing above reads “Tombe,” which according to Google Translate, means “falls” in French. It can be concluded then that the tree fell sometimes this year. The time when is hard to interpret. For me, I assume that the fact that no month is emphasized in the picture, that the scientists did not know the exact month the tree fell, but concluded that it fell between March – August.

For people who are interested in both science and history, this Zooniverse project does a great job and attending to those two fields. Jungle Rhythms is hoping to discover new data concerning African trees, and the interpretation of the documents.