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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.

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Tue 19 Sep 2006

Karsts of Southeast Asia under threat - article in BioScience

Category : pub

Left: A degraded limstone hill in Kelantan. Right: Rhiostoma, a land snail genus typically found on karsts. Photos by Reuben Clements.

Grad student Reuben's karsts article is published in BioScience this month. The article is available on BioScience's website in full so you can read it or download from there.

"Limestone Karsts of Southeast Asia: Imperiled Arks of Biodiversity." Reuben Clements, Navjot S. Sodhi, Menno Schilthuizen & Peter K. L. Ng, 2006. BioScience, 56 (9): 733-742.

Abstract - The overexploitation of the world's biomes for natural products calls for the prioritization of biologically important ecosystems for conservation. Here we show that limestone karsts are "arks" of biodiversity and often contain high levels of endemism.

Humans have exploited karsts for a variety of products and services, but unsustainable practices have caused population declines and extinctions among site-endemic taxa. Limestone quarrying is the primary threat to karst biodiversity in Southeast Asia, where quarrying rates exceed those in other tropical regions.

Several socioeconomic, political, and scientific issues undermine the stewardship of these karsts. Mitigation of these problems will involve (a) better land-use planning to prevent karst resources from being exhausted in developing regions, (b) comprehensive assessments of a karst's economic and biological value before development, (c) improved legislation and enforcement to protect karst biodiversity, and (d) increased research and activities to promote public awareness ofthe importance of karsts and the threats facing them.

National Geographic News featured the article as well: "Animal-Rich Limestone Towers Face Rocky Future in Asia." By James Owen. National Geographic News, 12 Sep 2006.

"You will be hard-pressed to find information on karst ecosystems in ecology textbooks," he said. "Such general apathy, coupled with the difficulty of performing biodiversity studies on the rugged karst terrain, make them unpopular study systems in the scientific community." - Reuben Clements.

Thanks to Joella Lai for the alert and Reuben for the photos and article.

For an account of one of Reuben's snail-searching karst trips, see "Roadtrip" By Applecow. Applemilk, 22 Mar 2006.

Posted at 6:45AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,