Monday, October 30, 2017

                                  EATS  SHOOTS  AND  LEAVES


Claim: climate change will dry out bamboo, slowly killing Madagascar’s bamboo lemurs

From CELL PRESS, a claim that anyone who has ever dealt with fast growing bamboo would have a very hard time believing – see details why at the end of this story.
Climate change may slowly starve bamboo lemurs 
Madagascar’s Cat-sized greater bamboo lemurs are considered one of the most endangered primate species on Earth. They almost exclusively eat a single species of bamboo, including the woody trunk, known as culm. But they prefer the more nutritious and tender bamboo shoots and use their specialized teeth to gnaw on culm only when necessary, during the dry season. 
Now, reporting in Current Biology on October 26, researchers provide evidence to suggest that as Earth’s climate changes, bamboo lemurs will gradually be forced to eat culm for longer periods. Ultimately, they suggest that, based on an analysis of anatomical, behavioral, paleontological, and climate data, the lemurs could slowly starve...
Wright and her colleagues from Finland and Australia first showed that the greater bamboo lemurs are equipped with highly complex and specialized teeth, just like giant pandas — the only other mammal capable of feeding on culm. These teeth make it possible for them to consume and survive on woody culm for parts of the year... 2,000 feeding observations ...showed that the lemurs... only eat the culm from August to November, when dry conditions make tender shoots appears that a short dry season has been crucial to the survival of greater bamboo lemurs in the past. ... climate models suggest that the areas where the lemurs currently are found are likely to experience longer and longer dry seasons in the future. As the lemurs are left with only culm to eat for longer periods, it could put their survival at risk...

Here’s why I think this study is absolute junk:
1. They rely exclusively on climate model projections, and we all know how highly variable those can be with output in the future
2. They seem to have this idea dry seasons In Madagascar will get drier and longer, but we’ve seen climate models produce both outcome... It seems to me they didn’t consider both, focusing only on drier because that’s the one that matches their goal to show bamboo lemurs would be affected.
3. They didn’t actually test any of the preferred bamboo growth and hardiness against the climate models, but instead relied solely on feeding observations of bamboo lemurs.
4. They assume climate change is the only factor...
5. With the discussion about the bamboo-feeding giant pandas thrown in... it seems they are appealing to human sensitivities...Deforestation leads to loss of evapotranspiration by the trees and plants of the tropical forest, and that leads to lowered rainfall in the region. Climate change has nothing to do with that effect...
Perhaps this PR is just a prelude to a “save the bamboo lemur” organization? It looks like desperation in the form of “we’ll mention climate change and people will send money, yeah, that’s the ticket!”.