Thursday, January 30, 2014

UST GS Watch Out for Organisms Gone Wild

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature School on Blog 
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
738 DZRB AM, evening class 8 to 9, Monday to Friday. 

Progeny of African wild bee with domestic bee poses danger for their aggressive nature and poisonous sting.
The house sparrow (Passer), now cosmopolitan in distribution, invades homes, parks, farms, including high rise buildings. While it is pest in farms and gardens, it is also nature's housekeeper being predator and scavenger.

Organisms even when domesticated still carry their wild genes. What is the implication of this scientific fact?

I have known pets that bite their masters. There are wild animals even if they were taken cared of the movement they were born, turn out to be killers. The killer instinct is dictated by their genes that enabled them to survive in the wild. That is why it is not advisable to pet cubs  of tigers and lions.

Certain plants exhibit wild traits, too. The white bean, bred to become bushy to facilitate cultivation and harvesting, may revert into its viny character to evade ground grazers. Patani or Lima bean when left uncultivated grows wild and fends itself from feeders by producing high tannin.

Here are specific cases to warn us of the dangers of animals becoming out of our control.

• The janitor fish, loved for its ability to clean the aquarium, for which it got its name, is now a pest in Laguna Bay, competing with the edible fish species, such as tilapia and carp.

• Golden kohol or golden snail, imported in the seventies to support the government’s food production program, has turned into a maverick, now the number one pest of rice. More than half of our total riceland (3.5 million hectares) is attacked by this mollusk every planting season.

• The deadly African bees continue to invade and hybridize with domestic bees in the US as well as in other places, transmitting in their genes of high aggressiveness and venom.

• Toad (Bufo marinus), imported for it its predatory habit useful in the biological control of insects has become a pest itself. Because of their poison glands, animals, such as snakes and eagles that feed on them die. They directly compete with other predatory animals. In Australia the toad introduced to control of sugarcane insect pests, has turned into a pest itself.

• Plant lice (Psyla) that wiped out the local ipil-ipil industry was actually introduced into the Philippines with foreign species (Hawaiian and Peruvian ) which we imported in the sixties.

• Erythrina or Dapdap gall wasp has virtually wiped out all over the country this beautiful indigenous tree that bears bright red flowers in summer. The wasp was introduced with the coral tree, a dwarf Erythrina introduced some years ago by local ornamental enthusiasts.

• There are reports of animals escaping from their confines and threatening our safety. At one time when I was accompanying my students on a field trip on Mt. Makiling, a plant nursery technician warned us to keep watch for cobra which allegedly escaped from the laboratory and reproduced with the local species.

• The tree ant, Oecephala smaragdina, allegedly a hybrid of an introduced species with our native hantik (ammimisay Ilk.), has become a nuisance. They build their nests in trees and bite when disturbed, making pruning, harvesting and other farm operations difficult.

. The thorny Opuntia which was introduced in Australia by plant enthusiasts, became a widespread problem of ranchers. It took another insect, a scale insects, to destroy the maverick cactus.

. A species of Caulerpa, similar to our lato or ar-arusip Ilk), has spread extensively on the ocean floor of the Mediterranean. Caulerpa produces caulerpin, for which its genus was named, which causes the death of fish and other marine organisms. 

Next time you plan to introduce an animal or plant not native to the place, get the expert's advice. Get in touch with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and other research institutions.

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