Thursday, October 17, 2013

TARSIUS SYRICHTA: SAFE AND SOUND

Just recently, in the early morning hour of October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude tectonic earthquake surprised the Central Visayan Region of the country (Philippines) which caused dramatic and devastating effects to both people and the imperative cultural heritage sites of the country.

Online communities from different social media sites expressed their earnest concern to the victims, and mourned on the lives loss because of such catastrophe. In addition, netizens over Facebook and Twitter updated their statuses and tweeted about the situations of the endangered Tarsier of the Bohol province.
Night Eyes captured by Tim Laman which has been highly commended in the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife, 2010 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, curated by theNatural History Museum, London. 
On a phone interview, Ms Joannie Mary Cabillo, the Foundation Program Manager of The Philippine Tarsier Foundation told the Philippine Inquirer that the Tarsiers are safe and sound in their Corella sanctuary. “Animals have a natural tendency to know what they should do, especially (when it comes to natural disasters)”, as what she explained.

Moreover, the Bohol Habitat Conservation Centre in Bilar, the field station of the Tarsius Project, is without severe damages as confirmed by Mr. Felix Sobiono, the Director.

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius Syrichta)

Tarsiers are nocturnal insectivorous primates and the only strictly carnivorous primates. According to the Tarsier Project, because of such nocturnal life style of the Tarsius Syrichta, the olfactory and acoustic communications are the most important. Thus, Tarsiers scent mark their home-ranges regularly and regularly vocalize at dusk and dawn.

One interesting studies of the Philippine Tarsier made by Nathaniel Dominy was on the study on its ultrasonic mode of communication.

Nathaniel Dominy, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth, describes the tarsier's ultrasonic vocalizations as "extreme, and comparable to the highly specialized vocalizations of bats and dolphins, which are used primarily for echolocation."

What’s fascinating about this little primate according to Nathaniel is that, some species of tarsier seems talkative, with a range of calls audible to humans and capable of “conveying alarm, deterring rivals, and facilitating social interactions”.

During their study conducted, tarsiers from Borneo and even the Tarsius Syrichta (Philippine Tarsier) are described as “ordinarily silent” in contrast to other species. Thus, led investigators suspect the animals are engaged in critical communications because of such obvious lack of vocalizations.

“Recent technical advances allowed the investigators to test the hearing of six wild tarsiers on the island of Mindanao. They found "an audible range that extended substantially into the ultrasound," reaching a high of 91 kilohertz (kHz), "a value that surpasses the known range of all other primates and is matched by few animals."

They also used a microphone and recording unit capable of registering sounds up 96 kHz. The upper limit of human hearing is generally set at 20 kHz, and frequencies above this limit are classified as ultrasound. In the field, the team recorded the sounds of 35 wild tarsiers from the islands of Bohol and Leyte with this equipment, documenting eight individuals giving out a purely ultrasonic call at approximately 70 kHz. The tone-like structure of the call resembles those of other tarsier species, but none were purely ultrasonic.

The researchers observed that tarsiers emitted their ultrasonic call when humans were near, suggesting they were voicing alarm. "Ultrasonic alarm calls can be advantageous to both the signaler and receiver as they are potentially difficult for predators to detect and localize," they write.

Dominy and his group conclude that there may be selective advantages to vocalizations in the pure ultrasound. They call them "private channels of communication with the potential to subvert detection by predators, prey, and competitors."

"Our findings not only verify that tarsiers are sensitive to the ultrasound, but also that Tarsius syrichta can send and receive vocal signals in the pure ultrasound," Dominy says.

-Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208220210.htm

Because of the tremendous threats of humanity to nature where illegal logging and mining have distorted most of the rainforests, a group of concerned individual decided to build a conservation center for tarsiers known today as the TARSIUS PROJECT.

TARSIUS PROJECT focuses on the conservation of endangered primate species the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius Syrichta) in area of its origin. To quote: “The Philippines belongs to biodiversity hotspots with high degree of threat, where conservation efforts should be concentrated. Habitat loss and illegal pet trade are the main reasons of tarsier population decrease. Therefore we aim to establish a Philippine tarsier conversation centre in Bilar, Philippines in cooperation with Wings of Serenity and Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre.”

TRIVIA:
- The Character YODA of the Starwars Saga represents the Philippine Tarsier.
- Each eye of a Tarsius is as large as its brain to compensate.
- Tarsiers have no reflective layer in the eye (Tapetum Lucidum).
- They got their English, Latin, and also Czech name according to elongated tarsus. Elongated and clubbed fingers serve for better adhesion to substrate as stressed by the Tarsius Project.
- The Philippine Tarsiers are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “decreasing”.

SYSTEMATICS FROM TARSIUS PROJECT:
Tarsiers form their own lineage between prosimians and monkeys. To date nine species living in Southeast Asia – Sulawesi, Sundaes a Philippines have been described. Eight species are found in Indonesia – Tarsius bancanus (Horsfield 1821), Tarsius dianae (Niemitz et al. 1991), Tarsius pelengensis (Sody 1949), Tarsius pumilus(Miller & Hollister 1921), Tarsius sangirensis (Meyer 1897), Tarsius spectrum (Erxleben 1777), Tarsius lariang (Merker & Groves 2006) and recently described Tarsius tumpara (Shekelle et al. 2008).

Only one species Tarsius syrichta (Linnaeus 1758) is found in the Philippines. Three subspecies of Tarsius syrichtahave been described. All these subspecies are found on islands that belonged to former large Pleistocene island of Greater Mindanao. Tarsius syrichta syrichta (Linnaeus 1758) lives on Samar and Leyte,Tarsius syrichta carbonarius (Heude 1899) on Mindanao, Tarsius syrichta fraterculus (Miller 1910) on Bohol. Other populations were found on Dinagat, Siargo and Basilan (Brandon-Jones et al. 2004) and they could be regarded as different subspecies. 
CONCLUSION:
The Ultrasonic Mode of Communication Study conducted by Nathaniel Dominy concludes that these little primates are capable of such catastrophe and could possibly withstand the rage of nature because of such natural senses that can send and receive vocal signals in the pure ultrasound.

The need to do a guaranteed conservation is strongly suggestive as these Philippine Tarsiers are the best gift we could present to the generations to come.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP ON THE CONSERVATION OF THE PHILIPPINE TARSIER?

RNDr. Milada Řeháková (Petrů), Ph.D. – The project coordinator and team leader of the Tarsius Project.

Last August 2013 during the Bohol-Metro Cebu LAKBAY-ARAL of the SK Chairpersons of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.
Last August 2013 during the Bohol-Metro Cebu LAKBAY-ARAL of the SK Chairpersons of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

1 comment:

  1. O mi gosh! Tarsiers are so cute. I would love to help to conserve these tiny animals.

    ReplyDelete

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