The marine algal flora of the Iwadate coast of Akita Prefecture, Japan, was studied from April 1999 to March 2000. Algal species composition in the intertidal and subtidal regions and on the four artificial reefs introduced in March and October 1995, October 1997, and October 1998 was observed. A total of 108 species of marine plants were listed, of which five species were new records for the algal flora of the northwestern, Japan Sea coast part of Honshu. Few species had colonised the reef introduced in 1998 and 71.4% of the species there were annuals. Five species of 12 species of fucoids described for the area by Konno (1971) were not found during the present study.
Today, wild rice species, Oryza rufipogon, O. officinalis, and floating rice, O. sativa, have become scarce rapidly in the Mekong Delta. In order to evaluate and to conserve genetic resources of two wild rice species distributed in the Mekong Delta, we compared their morphological features and examined protein variations by using SDS-PAGE analysis method with cultivated rice, weedy rice (O. sativa and two recombinant inbred lines RIL 93-1 and RIL 123-1), which were crossed between two species, O. officinalis and O. sativa. Results showed that the morphological materials including O. officinalis specimens were different in two distinctive characteristics from those reported before, such as thick rhizome, green grain color. O. officinalis has more heavier molecular weight in some proteins (glutelin, prolamin) than the others. In particular, protein profiles of O. officinalis populations showed a complete lack of prolamin 16kDa, less 13kDa and low waxy content compared with the other species. Two RIL lines detected at F_6 generation, have high waxy protein content, indicating that waxy content is still a complex characteristic but it may be applicable for improvement of rice amylose content. Today, wild rice species, especially O. officinalis, have become scarce in the Mekong Delta. Urgent conservation of these wild species and intensive survey of diversity are necessary.
The reasons for the competitive exclusion of the Japanese serow Capricornis crispus by the sika deer Cervus nippon in the Ashio Mountains, central Japan, were studied. The study comprised an analysis of encounters between individuals of these two sympatric species, and the demographic structure of the serow population. Serows tended to avoid deer (X2 = 29.23, df = 2, p < 0.001), whereas sika deer seemed to ignore the presence of serows (X2 = 0.87, df = 2, p = 0.647). The serow population showed clear signs of ageing; the proportion of juvenile animals was very low. The results suggest that behavioural interactions play an important role in the interspecific competition between the two species in Ashio. There is little evidence for trophic competition between the two species. This conclusion is supported by a review of the available literature on the food niche overlap between the Japanese serow and the sika deer. Other possible explanations for the serow population decline in Ashio, such as habitat changes, loss of genetic variability, and diseases, were concluded to be not relevant.
The Tarim red deer (Cervus elaphus yarkandensis), a subspecies of the red deer (C. elaphus), is unique among deer in exhibiting adaptations to a desert environment. The wild population of Tarim red deer has declined from 15,000 in the 1970s to 450 today because of habitat deterioration and fragmentation. Habitat reserves in oasis areas are urgently needed to ensure the persistence of this taxon. The authors recommend that Bugur Forest Park be made into a National Nature Reserve dedicated to the protection, research, and management of Tarim red deer. Also, the historical oasis corridor of poplar meadows between Xaya, Lopnur, and Qarqan should be restored to foster exchange of individuals between isolated populations.
The breeding status of sympatric Japanese Cranes Grus japonensis, White-naped Cranes G. vipio, and Oriental White Storks Ciconia boyciana was observed from the air in the middle Amur River basin in July 1997. In the area there were 113 G. japonensis (including 22 chicks, 19.5% of the population), 108 G. vipio (12 chicks, 11.7%) and 195 C. boyciana (46 chicks, 23.6%). There were 15 G. japonensis pairs with chick (s), amounting to 44.1% of the estimated number of pairs (n = 34), and the average number of chicks was 1.5 per family. The density per observation hour was 10.7 G. japonensis in Muraviovka and 3.2-5.6 in other regions, a level that was only half that of the Japanese population. It appears that the presence of shallow ponds and streams for foraging is an important limiting factor for breeding cranes in the study area. Non-breeders were found more commonly in the regions near the main Amur River channel, indicating that there are considerable differences in habitat suitability from region to region. The estimated number of pairs of G. vipio was 24 and the average number of chicks was 1.5 per family. We did not see any G. vipio along the Zeya-Tom Rivers, but it was abundant in Muraviovka. The species seems to be very rare north of 50°N in this area, probably due to the scarcity of croplands. We discovered 48 C. boyciana nests and saw chicks in 24 of them. The average number of chicks was 2.1 per nest, ranging from 1.0 in the Khingan-c R to 2.0-2.3 in other regions. The breeding success of C. boyciana was low because of recent grass fires and unusually dry weather in the summer of 1997.
In 1999 and 2000 a general decline in the vulture population has been observed in India. In the Keoladeo National Park, a more than 95% decline in the populations of Gyps species has been reported. The decline, attributed to pesticide contamination, disease, poisoning, and lack of food, has resulted in a widespread debate in the Indian scientific community including ornithologists, amateur birdwatchers, toxicologists, veterinarians, and environmentalists. After almost two years since the issue was first widely published in a leading environmental fortnightly publication, Down to Earth, (Anonymous 1999), the vulture situation is still far from clear. Though the exact causes of vulture decline are yet to be established, the whole issue has more importantly highlighted two aspects: a) the problems for bird conservation in India, particularly of those species that inhabit and use the agro-urban landscape, and b) the need for a means of addressing important issues such as this one. Many species in India, including vultures, need special attention. An ad hoc approach to conservation, combined with inadequate conservation action, has allowed the status of more species to decline to that of threatened taxa. There is an urgent need to initiate an integrated bird-monitoring programme involving major bird organisations, wildlife organisations, and individuals. Such a programme would routinely monitor populations of certain key and common avian species, particularly in the agro-urban environment. The database information developed by such a programme would then be available for use in developing risk assessment models that will be critical for the long-term protection of some species, and for urgent short-term mitigatory measures that may be needed from time to time. Reliable scientific data are vital to address many current conservation problems and to develop long-term strategies for bird conservation in India.