Invasive plants pose a major threat to the native vegetation of an ecosystem, resulting in severe competition for resources and in some cases, complete replacement of native plants by alien plants. Lantana camara is a well-known alien plant in India that has spread like wildfire and needs better strategies to manage this invasion. Since seed dispersal plays a major role in the spread of this shrub, a new study now attempts to understand how this plant succeeds in attracting various fruit eating birds that act as seed dispersers. By understanding how Lantana attracts these birds, better strategies to manage the weed could be developed, say the researchers.
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India is home to not just a huge number of people, but also a myriad range of animals and plants. So it isn’t surprising when scientists discover new species of these animals and plants every now and then. And to add to the list of new discoveries, three geckos have now been identified by a team of researchers. For the first time, after 130 years, the discovery of these geckos have take the total number of geckos found in India to 11. Found in various habitats and across many parts of the country, the discovery of the geckos adds to the ecological richness around us and gives more insights into these lizard-like organisms and their lives.
Termites are renowned architects whose mounds have inspired many building designs around the world. But did you know how termites build their mud castles? A new study has tried to understand how termites use boluses -- a combination of mud and saliva acting as bricks -- to build their mounds. The study also throws light on the properties of materials the termites prefer to use to build mounds and discusses reasons behind the same. This study, the researchers claim, is a first towards understand the unique procedure followed by nature’s best architects in building some of the finest castles.
Tigers, a well-known member of the cat family and India’s national animal is unique in many ways. Once found abundantly in the tropics of Asia, tigers today have little to call home or family. Their numbers have seen a sharp fall in the recent years, thanks to habitat destruction and poaching. While conservation efforts are on to protect this endangered species, there is still a long way to go before these shy cats can roam the jungles as kings. Today, on the event of International Tiger Day, here is a snapshot on what’s troubling them and how we know about it.
The mangrove ecosystem is a fragile ecosystem found in the tropical and subtropical sea shores and houses a variety of plants and animals. Some of these have evolved special adaptation techniques to thrive in the salt-rich low-in-oxygen soil, and have supported human communities around the forests. Today, on the occasion of the ‘International Day for the conservation of the mangrove ecosystem, here is a snapshot of the importance of mangroves and why conserving them is the need of the hour today.
Insects were the pioneers of flight on the planet, having developed wings early in their evolutionary history. Today, though a wide range of insects can claim this distinction, some, like the dragonfly, have exemplified this act. Despite their mastery and long history, knowing how such insects have achieve complex moves mid-flight, remains a mystery. Rumors and myths have also questioned the flight of insects like bumblebees, despite clear evidence showing otherwise, mainly since we can’t understand how they fly with their disproportionate body and wing sizes.
The Earth is a planet we share with a billion of other living animals and plants. Often, we encounter them everyday, use them as food, shelter or clothes, and interact with them as pets or pests. A new term of such interactions, at times, is called ‘conflicts’ where sharing the area we live with wild animals becomes a bane. These animals are often dangerous, causing widespread damage to crops, livestock and lives. How do we prevent this? What can people do to minimise such conflicts? A study now attempts to look at ways of addressing human-animal conflicts in the fringes of the forests in India.
Competition among different animals in a natural ecosystem is ubiquitous and determines many characteristics of the ecosystem. Ecologists use different mathematical models to estimate population of animals in the wild and help determine those species that are on the verge of being endangered or extinct. A new study by undergraduates at IISc has proposed a modification to an existing mathematical equation that takes competition of species into account, thus helping ecologists make accurate predictions along with actual field data.
Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly infectious viral disease affecting hoofed animals like cattle, deer, sheep and goats. The disease is often fatal, mostly affecting domesticated animals and causing huge losses to their owners. The contagious nature of the virus quickly destroys entire herds. The culprit behind the disease, the Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) or picornavirus, tweaks the cells of the infected animals and forces it to make copies of the virus.