Monday, 3 October 2016

Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger




Date: September 21, 2016
Source: The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

Researchers in Malaysia revealed that Peninsular Malaysia hosts at least three rare mussel species, one of which (Hyriopsis bialata) is not found anywhere else on the planet. Another species (Ensidens ingallsianus) may have already gone extinct.

In a ground-breaking study path-breaking for the Southeast Asian region, a research group led by The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) revealed that Peninsular Malaysia hosts at least three rare mussel species, one of which (Hyriopsis bialata) is not found anywhere else on the planet. Another species (Ensidens ingallsianus) may have already gone extinct. Most native species are severely threatened by ongoing nutrient pollution and acidification of freshwater habitats caused by atmospheric pollution, deforestation, oil-palm plantations and a lack of functioning wastewater treatment particularly in rural areas. As mussels are efficient filter-feeders and provide habitat for smaller organisms such as insect larvae, their loss can lead to algal blooms and further loss of aquatic biodiversity.

An international group of scientists; Dr John-James Wilson and Pei-Yin Ng from University of Malaya; Samuel Walton from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu; Dr Khairul Adha A. Rahim from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak; Dr Elsa Froufe and Manuel Lopes-Lima, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, Portugal; Professor Ronaldo Sousa from University of Minho, Portugal; Dr Arthur E. Bogan from North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (USA); Dr Suzanne McGowan from The University of Nottingham UK and Dr Alexandra Zieritz from The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, who is leading this research, surveyed 155 localities across all states of Peninsular Malaysia for mussels and recorded their environmental requirements. The team spent a total of 30 days in the field, scouring the sandy and muddy beds of Malaysia's rivers and lakes for mussels simply using their hands. Environmental conditions at each location, such as water pH and oxygen concentration, were also recorded. The findings of this study, worth USD 9,262 (RM 38269.19) and funded by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund , are published in Science of the Total Environment, an international scientific journal.


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