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Showing posts from September, 2017

Meet the Lizards of Tobago's Main Ridge

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Amy Deacon, Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine and Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club continues her series on the biodiversity of the Main Ridge Reserve (MRR). She teams up with herpetologist Renoir Auguste once again; this time to introduce us to the lizards of the MRR. 


There are at least 17 different species of lizard on Tobago. The majority of this diversity lies within the Main Ridge Reserve. Here, we will meet three of the species most associated with the Main Ridge: the stunningly beautiful ocellated gecko which is found nowhere else in the world; the elusive hex-scaled bachia, a species you probably never knew existed until now; and finally the prehistoric-looking green iguana.
We’ll start by introducing the endemic ocellated gecko. Geckos are a type of lizard, known for their climbing abilities; six species of gecko are found in Tobago but the ocellated gecko is the only one that is unique t…

The effects of hurricanes on coral reefs

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, looks at how hurricanes affect coral reef ecosystems
Coral reef ecosystems are shaped by their surroundings. The amount of light they receive, the temperature of the water column, even the movement of the water (currents) all govern whether a coral species can survive and reproduce. As corals are only mobile during their larval phase, the spot where they choose to settle and grow becomes a very important choice; not too hot or cold, just enough light and shelter. As a result, we find shifts in coral reef types as environments change. However, despite a coral’s ability to adapt to long-term environmental conditions, similar to us on land, coral reefs can also be devastated by large disturbances that bring destruction or death. One example is hurricanes.
Hurricane force winds uproot trees and damage infrastructure on land. These same winds drive intense wave surges along coastlines, causing violent and irregular water movement that can be felt at great …

Climate change, like hurricanes, calls for non-partisan policy and responses

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, discusses the response of small island states to extreme events like hurricane Irma. This feature was first published in the Tobago Newsday, September 14, 2017

In the wake of hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin closely followed by hurricane Jose, the question of whether climate change is affecting the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the Caribbean has once again come into question. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no certainty of whether the intense and frequent hurricanes of a single year are a result of human induced trends. Only future observations over multiple years and a better historical cyclone record will allow us to determine whether these trends are part of a long-term natural cycle or the result of a warming planet. What we do know, based on the climate assessment reports provided by the intergovernmental panel on climate change, (IPCC) is that cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin has be…

The Tropicalisation of Temperate Ecosystems

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Anjani Ganase, marine biologist, looks at how climate change and warming ocean temperatures are impacting temperate marine ecosystems adjacent to tropical marine life.
The average land and sea surface temperature of the planet has increased by about 0.8 °C over the last one hundred years. Although this does not appear to be a significant number, a change of less than one degree can affect the timing of seasonal changes in plants and animals: breeding season, migration routes, flowering and fruiting of plants. Springtime activities in both animals and plants have been recorded to be occurring progressively earlier since the 1960s, including the arrival of butterflies and birds, delayed autumnal departures of migrating birds, as well as earlier breeding patterns in amphibians (Walther et al 2002). Apart from shifts in the timing of events, there have also been recordings of shifts or expansion in the range of plants and animals, in particular sedentary organisms, towards the poles and h…

The need to include healthy marine ecosystems in Tobago's business model

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Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, calls upon business to claim its share of ocean wealth by conserving and managing our islands’ resource. First published in the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce' Contact magazine, vol 17 no 2, Focus on Tobago
We think of the ocean and its resources as vast and endless. Goods and services provided by the ocean for humans have been estimated to be about 24 trillion USD in assets (World Wildlife Fund, 2015) more than the economy of most nations. These goods include fishing, harvesting of materials and procurement of medicine, as well as services through shoreline protection, wave energy extraction, shipping and tourism. This asset value is grossly underestimated, as it doesn’t consider the crucial roles of the ocean in regulating climate, the air we breathe and stabilising temperature, nor does it consider the intrinsic cultural value that we place on the ocean (WWF 2015). But the resources of the ocean have been depleted more in our lifetime than …