In 2008, the IUCN threat status of the Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) was reclassified from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered'. The latest distribution map from the IUCN Red List suggests that the tapirs' native range is becoming increasingly fragmented in Peninsular Malaysia, but distribution data collected by local researchers suggest a more extensive geographical range. Here, we compile a database of 1261 tapir occurrence records within Peninsular Malaysia, and demonstrate that this species, indeed, has a much broader geographical range than the IUCN range map suggests. However, extreme spatial and temporal bias in these records limits their utility for conservation planning. Therefore, we used maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling to elucidate the potential extent of the Asian tapir's occurrence in Peninsular Malaysia while accounting for bias in existing distribution data. Our MaxEnt model predicted that the Asian tapir has a wider geographic range than our fine-scale data and the IUCN range map both suggest. Approximately 37% of Peninsular Malaysia contains potentially suitable tapir habitats. Our results justify a revision to the Asian tapir's extent of occurrence in the IUCN Red List. Furthermore, our modeling demonstrated that selectively logged forests encompass 45% of potentially suitable tapir habitats, underscoring the importance of these habitats for the conservation of this species in Peninsular Malaysia.
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.
In the present study, we used nucleotide and protein sequences of avian influenza virus H5N1, which were obtained in Asia and Africa, analyzed HA proteins using ClustalX1.83 and MEGA4.0, and built a genetic evolutionary tree of HA nucleotides. The analysis revealed that the receptor specificity amino acid of A/HK/213/2003, A/Turkey/65596/2006 and etc mutated into QNG, which could bind with á-2, 3 galactose and á-2, 6 galactose. A mutation might thus take place and lead to an outbreak of human infections of avian influenza virus. The mutations of HA protein amino acids from 2004 to 2009 coincided with human infections provided by the World Health Organization, indicating a "low-high-highest-high-low" pattern. We also found out that virus strains in Asia are from different origins: strains from Southeast Asia and East Asia are of the same origin, whereas those from West Asia, South Asia and Africa descend from one ancestor. The composition of the phylogenetic tree and mutations of key site amino acids in HA proteins reflected the fact that the majority of strains are regional and long term, and virus diffusions exist between China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraq. We would advise that pertinent vaccines be developed and due attention be paid to the spread of viruses between neighboring countries and the dangers of virus mutation and evolution.
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 relationships between vertebrate pests and crop damage are often complex and difficult to study. In palm oil plantations rodents remain the major pests, causing substantial monetary losses. The present study examined the numerical and functional responses of rodents to changes in the availability of oil palm fruit and the damage associated with that response. For the study, 200 traps were set in pairs on a 10 × 10 trapping grid for 3 consecutive nights in each of 6 study plots at 8-week intervals in a 2569 ha oil palm plantation at Labu, Negeri Sembilan state in Peninsular Malaysia over 14 months. A total of 1292 individual rats were captured over 25 200 trap-nights. Animals were identified, aged, sexed, weighed and measured. An index of the relative abundance of rats was calculated based on trapping success. Damage to infructescences was assessed at each trap point. Regardless of the age of palms, there were positive and significant relationships between the relative abundance of rats and numbers of infructescences. The levels of damage to infructescences were significantly correlated with the relative abundance of rats. A steep increase in damage was observed with an increase in mature infructescences, indicating a feeding preference of rats for mature infructescences. For both males and females of all rat species, there were weak and non-significant correlations between body condition and infructescence numbers. These results indicated that there was a numerical and a functional response by rats to the availability of palm fruit and a resulting increase in depredation of oil palm fruits. The ways in which this information might aid in future pest control are discussed.
The genetic population structure of red snapper Lutjanus malabaricus and orange-spotted grouper Epinephelus coiodes in Brunei and Sabah was investigated using allozyme electrophoresis. Samples were collected from three sites in Brunei for E. coiodes and from three sites in Brunei and Sabah for L. malabaricus. A total of 22 loci and 16 loci were scored, respectively. The index of fixation (F(ST) ) for the E. coiodes population was 0.176 but, in general, it lacked within-population structuring. The F(ST) was particularly high between Brunei Bay/Jerudong and Brunei Bay/ Kuala Belait, suggesting genetic subdivision on a small spatial scale. Isolation of Brunei Bay from the South China Sea may constrain the movement of adult fishes and larval dispersal, thereby reducing homogeneity among subpopulations. All variable loci for E. coiodes were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium except for MDH* and GTDHP* (P < 0.01), in which two subpopulations showed an excess of heterozygotes (P < 0.01). The study on the L. malabaricus population showed a heterozygote deficit of approximately 60% in variable loci (F(ST) genetic variation within population = 0.45; P < 0.05); however, the mean observed heterozygosity for the population far exceeded L. malabaricus populations in Australia and Indonesia. A F(ST) value of 0.076 revealed moderate genetic differentiation among subpopulations of L. malabaricus. The genotypes were likely to be drawn from the same distribution in Jerudong and Kuala Belait. This study infers that sustainable management of snapper and grouper resources in Brunei waters must take into account the presence of a single stock and two stocks, respectively.
Although the role of primates in seed dispersal is generally well recognized, this is not the case for colobines, which are widely distributed in Asian and African tropical forests. Colobines consume leaves, seeds and fruits, usually unripe. A group of proboscis monkeys (Colobinae, Nasalis larvatus) consisting of 1 alpha-male, 6 adult females and several immatures, was observed from May 2005 to May 2006. A total of 400 fecal samples from focal group members covering 13 months were examined, with over 3500 h of focal observation data on the group members in a forest along the Menanggul River, Sabah, Malaysia. Intact small seeds were only found in 23 of 71 samples in Nov 2005, 15 of 38 in Dec 2005 and 5 of 21 in Mar 2006. Seeds of Ficus (all <1.5 mm in length) were found in all 3 months and seeds from Antidesma thwaitesianum (all <3 mm) and Nauclea subdita (all <2 mm) only in Nov and Dec, which was consistent with members of the study group consuming fruits of these species mostly at these times. To our knowledge, these are the first records of seeds in the fecal samples of colobines. Even if colobines pass relatively few seeds intact, their high abundance and biomass could make them quantitatively significant in seed dispersal. The potential role of colobines as seed dispersers should be considered by colobine researchers.
With only 5% of the world's wild tigers (Panthera tigris Linnaeus, 1758) remaining since the last century, conservationists urgently need to know whether or not the management strategies currently being employed are effectively protecting these tigers. This knowledge is contingent on the ability to reliably monitor tiger populations, or subsets, over space and time. In the this paper, we focus on the 2 seminal methodologies (camera trap and occupancy surveys) that have enabled the monitoring of tiger populations with greater confidence. Specifically, we: (i) describe their statistical theory and application in the field; (ii) discuss issues associated with their survey designs and state variable modeling; and, (iii) discuss their future directions. These methods have had an unprecedented influence on increasing statistical rigor within tiger surveys and, also, surveys of other carnivore species. Nevertheless, only 2 published camera trap studies have gone beyond single baseline assessments and actually monitored population trends. For low density tiger populations (e.g. <1 adult tiger/100 km(2)) obtaining sufficient precision for state variable estimates from camera trapping remains a challenge because of insufficient detection probabilities and/or sample sizes. Occupancy surveys have overcome this problem by redefining the sampling unit (e.g. grid cells and not individual tigers). Current research is focusing on developing spatially explicit capture-mark-recapture models and estimating abundance indices from landscape-scale occupancy surveys, as well as the use of genetic information for identifying and monitoring tigers. The widespread application of these monitoring methods in the field now enables complementary studies on the impact of the different threats to tiger populations and their response to varying management intervention.
Song plays a fundamental role in intraspecific communication in songbirds. The temporal and structural components of songs can vary in different habitats. These include urban habitats where anthropogenic sounds and alteration of habitat structure can significantly affect songbird vocal behavior. Urban-rural variations in song complexity, song length and syllable rate are not fully understood. In this study, using the oriental magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) as a model, we investigated urban-rural variation in song complexity, song length, syllable rate, syllable length and inter-syllable interval. Comparing urban and rural songs from 7 countries across its natural Asiatic range (Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand), we found no significant differences in oriental magpie-robin song complexity. However, we found significant differences in temporal song variables between urban and rural sites. Longer songs and inter-syllable intervals in addition to slower syllable rates within urban sites contributed the most to this variance. This indicates that the urban environment may have driven production of longer and slower songs to maximize efficient transmission of important song information in urban habitats.