The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the largest among the four tapir species and is listed as an endangered species. Ultrasound examination and description of the external anatomy of the female reproductive system of three adult females were performed, whereas the internal anatomy was investigated in necropsied samples of four adult females and one subadult female. Descriptions of the male external genitalia were conducted on one adult male. Gross examination revealed the presence of a bicornuate uterus. The uterine cervix is firm and muscular with projections towards its lumen, which is also evident on ultrasonography. The elongated and relatively small ovaries, which have a smooth surface, could not be imaged on ultrasonography, due to their anatomical position. The testes are located inside a slightly pendulous scrotum that is sparsely covered with soft, short hairs. The penis has one dorsal and two lateral penile projections just proximal to the glans penis.
Two Unionida (freshwater mussel) families are present in the Northern Hemisphere; the Margaritiferidae, representing the most threatened of unionid families, and the Unionidae, which include several genera of unresolved taxonomic placement. The recent reassignment of the poorly studied Lamprotula rochechouartii from the Unionidae to the Margaritiferidae motivated a new search for other potential species of margaritiferids from members of Gibbosula and Lamprotula. Based on molecular and morphological analyses conducted on newly collected specimens from Vietnam, we here assign Gibbosula crassa to the Margaritiferidae. Additionally, we reanalyzed all diagnostic characteristics of the Margaritiferidae and examined museum specimens of Lamprotula and Gibbosula. As a result, two additional species are also moved to the Margaritiferidae, i.e. Gibbosula confragosa and Gibbosula polysticta. We performed a robust five marker phylogeny with all available margaritiferid species and discuss the taxonomy within the family. The present phylogeny reveals the division of Margaritiferidae into four ancient clades with distinct morphological, biogeographical and ecological characteristics that justify the division of the Margaritiferidae into two subfamilies (Gibbosulinae and Margaritiferinae) and four genera (Gibbosula, Cumberlandia, Margaritifera, and Pseudunio). The systematics of the Margaritiferidae family is re-defined as well as their distribution, potential origin and main biogeographic patterns.
Pangolins are scale-covered mammals, containing eight endangered species. Maintaining pangolins in captivity is a significant challenge, in part because little is known about their genetics. Here we provide the first large-scale sequencing of the critically endangered Manis javanica transcriptomes from eight different organs using Illumina HiSeq technology, yielding ~75 Giga bases and 89,754 unigenes. We found some unigenes involved in the insect hormone biosynthesis pathway and also 747 lipids metabolism-related unigenes that may be insightful to understand the lipid metabolism system in pangolins. Comparative analysis between M. javanica and other mammals revealed many pangolin-specific genes significantly over-represented in stress-related processes, cell proliferation and external stimulus, probably reflecting the traits and adaptations of the analyzed pregnant female M. javanica. Our study provides an invaluable resource for future functional works that may be highly relevant for the conservation of pangolins.
The Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island (OUI) Foundation has been conducting behavioral and veterinary research on orangutans as an attempt at ex situ conservation. Since 2010, the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University has been collaborating with OUI to promote environmental enrichment and infant rearing by biological mothers in addition to the continuous efforts of refining the veterinary management of the endangered species. In 2011, three Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) were released on an island, called BJ Island, adjacent to OUI. This island is approximately 5.6 ha in size, and 635 trees belonging to 102 plant species were identified prior to their release. Behavioral monitoring of the released individuals has been conducted to evaluate their behavioral adaptation to the new environment. Two of the three released orangutans were born in the wild, whereas the youngest individual was born on OUI and expected to learn forest survival strategies from the two older individuals. One of the orangutans was pregnant at the time of release and subsequently gave birth to two male infants on BJ Island. The behavioral monitoring indicated that these orangutans traveled more and spent more time on trees following their release onto BJ Island. However, resting was longer for two females both on OUI and BJ Island when compared to other populations. The orangutans consumed some natural food resources on BJ Island. The release into a more naturalistic environment may help the orangutans to develop more naturalistic behavioral patterns that resemble their wild counterparts.
The number of endangered coral species is increasing over the past decades due to multiple stresses and threats. Euphylliidae corals are among the species heavily targeted for the marine aquarium trade due to their colourful appearance and aesthetic importance. However, their distribution in Peninsular Malaysia has not been thoroughly investigated. Present study aims to investigate the diversity and abundance patterns of euphylliid species at 36 reef sites in Marine Protected Areas of Tioman, Redang and Payar Islands. Video transect surveyed a total of 671 euphylliids individuals belonging to six species from three genera. The diversity and evenness indices of euphylliids were significantly higher (P
Next-Gen sequencing was used to recover the complete mitochondrial genome of Cherax tenuimanus. The mitogenome consists of 15,797 base pairs (68.14% A + T content) containing 13 protein-coding genes, two ribosomal subunit genes, 22 transfer RNAs, and a 779 bp non-coding AT-rich region. Mitogenomes have now been recovered for all six species of Cherax native to Western Australia.
The flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps) is one of the world's least known, highly threatened felids with a distribution restricted to tropical lowland rainforests in Peninsular Thailand/Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra. Throughout its geographic range large-scale anthropogenic transformation processes, including the pollution of fresh-water river systems and landscape fragmentation, raise concerns regarding its conservation status. Despite an increasing number of camera-trapping field surveys for carnivores in South-East Asia during the past two decades, few of these studies recorded the flat-headed cat.
Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) based DNA biosensors have considered as excellent, fast and ultrasensitive sensing technique which relies on the fingerprinting ability to produce molecule specific distinct spectra. Unlike conventional fluorescence based strategies SERS provides narrow spectral bandwidths, fluorescence quenching and multiplexing ability, and fitting attribute with short length probe DNA sequences. Herein, we report a novel and PCR free SERS based DNA detection strategy involving dual platforms and short DNA probes for the detection of endangered species, Malayan box turtle (MBT) (Cuora amboinensis). In this biosensing feature, the detection is based on the covalent linking of the two platforms involving graphene oxide-gold nanoparticles (GO-AuNPs) functionalized with capture probe 1 and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) modified with capture probe 2 and Raman dye (Cy3) via hybridization with the corresponding target sequences. Coupling of the two platforms generates locally enhanced electromagnetic field 'hot spot', formed at the junctions and interstitial crevices of the nanostructures and consequently provide significant amplification of the SERS signal. Therefore, employing the two SERS active substrates and short-length probe DNA sequences, we have managed to improve the sensitivity of the biosensors to achieve a lowest limit of detection (LOD) as low as 10 fM. Furthermore, the fabricated biosensor exhibited sensitivity even for single nucleotide base-mismatch in the target DNA as well as showed excellent performance to discriminate closely related six non-target DNA sequences. Although the developed SERS biosensor would be an attractive platform for the authentication of MBT from diverse samples including forensic and/or archaeological specimens, it could have universal application for detecting gene specific biomarkers for many diseases including cancer.
The proboscis monkey, Nasalis larvatus, is an endemic species to the island of Borneo. It is listed in the IUCN Red List as Endangered with a decreasing population trend. Nevertheless, biological information, especially on the genetic diversity of the species, is still incomplete. Its fragmented distribution poses difficulties in gathering genetic samples along with its widespread distribution across Borneo. This study aims to determine the genetic variation and structure of N. larvatus with an emphasis on Malaysian Borneo populations to elucidate its gene flow. The genetic variation and structure of N. larvatus were examined using 50 sequences of the 1,434-bp cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene region of mitochondrial DNA. The COI sequences revealed low genetic variation among N. larvatus populations in Malaysian Borneo. This low genetic variability could be the result of inbreeding pressure that may have occurred due to the absence of population expansion in this species over the last 30,000 years. This is supported in our analysis of molecular variance, which showed that groups of N. larvatus are significantly differentiated possibly due to natural geographic barriers. This study provides baseline information on the genetic diversity among proboscis monkey populations in Borneo for the future genetic assessment of the species.
Confiscated slow lorises (Nycticebus spp.) at Bangpra Water-Bird Breeding Center (BWBC) in Thailand provided an opportunity to demonstrate the application of noninvasive genetic approaches for species identification when morphology of the animals was ambiguous. The slow lorises at BWBC had been assigned to either N. bengalensis or N. pygmaeus, based on body size. However, the morphology of N. bengalensis is highly variable and overlaps with that of N. coucang (sensu stricto). Phylogenetic analysis of cytochrome b and d-loop mitochondrial regions placed all confiscated N. pygmaeus with the published sequences of N. pygmaeus and distinguished them from other Nycticebus. All other confiscated individuals formed a monophyletic clade, most individuals grouping with published N. bengalensis sequences from wild populations in Vietnam and distinct from Peninsular Malaysian and Sumatran N. coucang, Javan N. javanicus and Bornean N. menagensis. Six individuals within the N. bengalensis clade formed a separate subgroup that did not group with any reference material as indicated by phylogenetic and haplotype network analyses. Whether these trafficked individuals are undiscovered wild populations will require further investigation. Additional genetic studies of wild slow loris populations in different regions are therefore urgently required for reference to aid the protection and conservation of these threatened species.
Ten polymorphic microsatellite markers have been developed for Gonystylus bancanus (Ramin), a protected tree species of peat swamp forests in Malaysia and Indonesia. Eight markers were also shown to be polymorphic in other Gonystylus species. The markers will enable assessing the amount of genetic variation within and among populations and the degree of population differentiation, such that donor populations can be selected for reforestation projects. They may be used for tracing and tracking of wood in the production chain, so that legal trade in this Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora-protected timber species, derived from specifically described origins, can be distinguished from illegally logged timber.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) are documented from various locations along Borneo's coast, including three sites in Sarawak, Malaysia, three sites in Sabah, Malaysia, three locations in Kalimantan, Indonesia and the limited coastal waters of the Sultanate of Brunei. Observations in all these areas indicate a similar external morphology, which seems to fall somewhere between that documented for Chinese populations known as S. chinensis, and that of Sousa sahulensis in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Sightings occur in shallow nearshore waters, often near estuaries and river mouths, and associations with Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are frequently documented. Population estimates exist for only two locations and sightings information throughout Borneo indicates that frequency of occurrence is rare and group size is usually small. Threats from fisheries by-catch and coastal development are present in many locations and there are concerns over the ability of these small and fragmented populations to survive. The conservation and taxonomic status of humpback dolphins in Borneo remain unclear, and there are intriguing questions as to where these populations fit in our evolving understanding of the taxonomy of the genus.
Six extant species of non-human great apes are currently recognized: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, and chimpanzees and bonobos . However, large gaps remain in our knowledge of fine-scale variation in hominoid morphology, behavior, and genetics, and aspects of great ape taxonomy remain in flux. This is particularly true for orangutans (genus: Pongo), the only Asian great apes and phylogenetically our most distant relatives among extant hominids . Designation of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, P. pygmaeus (Linnaeus 1760) and P. abelii (Lesson 1827), as distinct species occurred in 2001 [1, 2]. Here, we show that an isolated population from Batang Toru, at the southernmost range limit of extant Sumatran orangutans south of Lake Toba, is distinct from other northern Sumatran and Bornean populations. By comparing cranio-mandibular and dental characters of an orangutan killed in a human-animal conflict to those of 33 adult male orangutans of a similar developmental stage, we found consistent differences between the Batang Toru individual and other extant Ponginae. Our analyses of 37 orangutan genomes provided a second line of evidence. Model-based approaches revealed that the deepest split in the evolutionary history of extant orangutans occurred ∼3.38 mya between the Batang Toru population and those to the north of Lake Toba, whereas both currently recognized species separated much later, about 674 kya. Our combined analyses support a new classification of orangutans into three extant species. The new species, Pongo tapanuliensis, encompasses the Batang Toru population, of which fewer than 800 individuals survive. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Geographically isolated populations of endemic orchids have evolved and adapted to an existence within specifi c ecological niches. These populations are highly susceptible to anthropogenic
infl uences on their microhabitats. The primary objective of conservation programs is the restoration of endangered populations to their ecologically sustainable levels, and the fi rst stage in the process of conservation involves estimation of molecular diversity at the level of the population. The approach described in this article involves the application of RAPD, Microsatellites and Chloroplast DNA markers for the characterization of the genetic structure of Paphiopedilum rothschildianum and Phalaenopsis gigantea, two endangered and endemic orchids of Sabah. This study has isolated a total of 96 microsatellite loci in P. rothschildianum and P. gigantea, 42 specifi c primer pairs have been designed for amplifi cation of microsatellite loci and are currently being applied to screen the breeding pools. The Chloroplast DNA regions amplifi ed by the primer pairs trnH-psbA and trnL-trnF exhibit distinct polymorphisms and can be used to establish phylogenetic
relationships. The ability of microsatellite loci to cross-amplify selected varieties of orchids has been determined. The molecular markers developed will be applied to estimate population diversity
levels and to formulate long-term management strategies for the conservation of endangered species of orchids of Sabah.
Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources is increasingly affecting the highly biodiverse tropics [1, 2]. Although rapid developments in remote sensing technology have permitted more precise estimates of land-cover change over large spatial scales [3-5], our knowledge about the effects of these changes on wildlife is much more sparse [6, 7]. Here we use field survey data, predictive density distribution modeling, and remote sensing to investigate the impact of resource use and land-use changes on the density distribution of Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). Our models indicate that between 1999 and 2015, half of the orangutan population was affected by logging, deforestation, or industrialized plantations. Although land clearance caused the most dramatic rates of decline, it accounted for only a small proportion of the total loss. A much larger number of orangutans were lost in selectively logged and primary forests, where rates of decline were less precipitous, but where far more orangutans are found. This suggests that further drivers, independent of land-use change, contribute to orangutan loss. This finding is consistent with studies reporting hunting as a major cause in orangutan decline [8-10]. Our predictions of orangutan abundance loss across Borneo suggest that the population decreased by more than 100,000 individuals, corroborating recent estimates of decline . Practical solutions to prevent future orangutan decline can only be realized by addressing its complex causes in a holistic manner across political and societal sectors, such as in land-use planning, resource exploitation, infrastructure development, and education, and by increasing long-term sustainability . VIDEO ABSTRACT.
A total of 1951 species of freshwater and marine fishes belonging to 704 genera and 186 families are recorded in Malaysia. Almost half (48%) are currently threatened to some degree, while nearly one third (27%) mostly from the marine and coral habitats require urgent scientific studies to evaluate their status. Freshwater habitats encompass the highest percentage of threatened fish species (87%) followed by estuarine habitats (66%). Of the 32 species of highly threatened (HT) species, 16 are freshwater and 16 are largely marine-euryhaline species. Fish extinctions in Malaysia are confined to two freshwater species, but both freshwater and marine species are being increasingly threatened by largely habitat loss or modification (76%), overfishing (27%) and by-catch (23%). The most important threat to freshwater fishes is habitat modification and overfishing, while 35 species are threatened due to their endemism. Brackish-water, euryhaline and marine fishes are threatened mainly by overfishing, by-catch and habitat modification. Sedimentation (pollution) additionally threatens coral-reef fishes. The study provides recommendations to governments, fish managers, scientists and stakeholders to address the increasing and unabated extinction risks faced by the Malaysian fish fauna.
Habitat destruction and overhunting are two major drivers of mammal population declines and extinctions in tropical forests. The construction of roads can be a catalyst for these two threats. In Southeast Asia, the impacts of roads on mammals have not been well-documented at a regional scale. Before evidence-based conservation strategies can be developed to minimize the threat of roads to endangered mammals within this region, we first need to locate where and how roads are contributing to the conversion of their habitats and illegal hunting in each country. We interviewed 36 experts involved in mammal research from seven Southeast Asian countries to identify roads that are contributing the most, in their opinion, to habitat conversion and illegal hunting. Our experts highlighted 16 existing and eight planned roads - these potentially threaten 21% of the 117 endangered terrestrial mammals in those countries. Apart from gathering qualitative evidence from the literature to assess their claims, we demonstrate how species-distribution models, satellite imagery and animal-sign surveys can be used to provide quantitative evidence of roads causing impacts by (1) cutting through habitats where endangered mammals are likely to occur, (2) intensifying forest conversion, and (3) contributing to illegal hunting and wildlife trade. To our knowledge, ours is the first study to identify specific roads threatening endangered mammals in Southeast Asia. Further through highlighting the impacts of roads, we propose 10 measures to limit road impacts in the region.
Freshwater mussels of the family Unionidae exhibit a particular form of mitochondria inheritance called double uniparental inheritance (DUI), in which the mitochondria are inherited by both male and female parents. The (M)ale and (F)emale mitogenomes are highly divergent within species. In the present study, we determine and describe the complete M and F mitogenomes of the Endangered freshwater mussel Potomida littoralis (Cuvier, 1798). The complete M and F mitogenomes sequences are 16 451 bp and 15 787 bp in length, respectively. Both F and M have the same gene content: 13 protein-coding genes (PCGs), 22 transfer RNA (trn) and 2 ribosomal RNA (rrn) genes. Bayesian analyses based on the concatenated nucleotide sequences of 12 PCGs and 2 rrn genes of both genomes, including mitogenome sequences available from related species, were performed. Male and Female lineages are monophyletic within the family, but reveal distinct phylogenetic relationships.
A century ago, tigers (Panthera tigris Linnaeus, 1758) were so common in parts of Southeast Asia as to be considered pests, and governments sponsored their killing. Habitat loss and fragmentation, market-driven poaching and loss of prey have since led to the disappearance of Indochinese tigers from most their former range. Despite 15 years of dedicated tiger conservation funding, national estimates of Indochinese tiger subpopulations can at best only be roughly approximated. The future for the subspecies appears grim unless very focused efforts can be applied to stabilize and recover subpopulations. On a regional scale, the 2 proposed subspecies Panthera tigris corbetti and P. tigris jacksoni are effectively managed as separate conservation units. Evaluating where to place conservation efforts should consider the vulnerability (likelihood of extinction) and irreplaceability (likelihood that an area contributes uniquely to regional conservation) of tiger subpopulations. Only 1 site in Thailand supporting <200 individuals (Huai Kha Khaeng-Thung Yai) is considered low vulnerability, and is irreplaceable. Five sites in Lao, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia are medium vulnerability and irreplaceable. Priorities at these 6 sites are to double tiger numbers within 10 years through protection and monitoring. Seven sites in Lao, Thailand and Myanmar are high vulnerability and irreplaceable, and might be recovered if government commitment to tigers, staff capacity and legal frameworks for tiger protection are established. Tigers are extremely vulnerable or even extinct in Cambodia's Eastern Plains and the site is irreplaceable for tigers because it represents the only large (>10,000 km(2) ) block of dry forest habitat available in the region. A reintroduction program is the only option to recover tigers there.
The endangered Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) is threatened by large-scale habitat loss, forest fragmentation and increased hunting pressure. Conservation planning for this species, however, is hampered by a severe paucity of information on its ecology and population status. We present the first Asian tapir population density estimate from a camera trapping study targeting tigers in a selectively logged forest within Peninsular Malaysia using a spatially explicit capture-recapture maximum likelihood based framework. With a trap effort of 2496 nights, 17 individuals were identified corresponding to a density (standard error) estimate of 9.49 (2.55) adult tapirs/100 km(2) . Although our results include several caveats, we believe that our density estimate still serves as an important baseline to facilitate the monitoring of tapir population trends in Peninsular Malaysia. Our study also highlights the potential of extracting vital ecological and population information for other cryptic individually identifiable animals from tiger-centric studies, especially with the use of a spatially explicit capture-recapture maximum likelihood based framework.