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The Saharan cousin of Mediterranean olive trees remains largely unknown. However, this subspecies (called the Laperinne's olive tree) is of great interest for several reasons. IRD researchers and their partners showed that its longevity is ensured by its original vegetative reproduction. Extremely drought-resistant, this "relict" tree could act as a genetic resource to improve its domestic counterparts, provided conservation actions are implemented to prevent its disappearance.
In 2010, a study revealed that the main agent of malaria in humans, called Plasmodium falciparum , arose from the gorilla. Today, the vector which transmitted the parasite from apes to humans has just been identified. A Franco-Gabonese research consortium has determined which species of anopheles mosquitoes transfer the disease to apes. Among them is Anopheles moucheti , known for biting humans! Therefore, it must be the species which originally infected us through our cousins. And it could do it again today.
Will we soon be forced to eat jellyfish? Since the beginning of the 2000s, these gelatinous creatures have invaded many of the world's seas, like the Japan Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, etc. Is it a cyclic phenomenon, caused by changes in marine currents or even global warming? Until now, the causes remained unknown. A new study conducted by IRD researchers and its partners, published in Bulletin of marine science, exposes overfishing as the main factor.
In order to deal with the current biodiversity crisis, the policy and scientific choices made over the past 20 years have led to the development of global assessment, management and conservation tools for living organisms. Such
standardisation of environmental policies and instruments tends to marginalise cultivated tropical ecosystems and their related practices. This state of affairs was criticised by a multi-disciplinary team of the IRD and its partners(
1) in the Conservation Letters
journal, based on work conducted in Laos and Madagascar.
The researchers demonstrated how the standardisation of conservation methods leads to a decline in species diversity and local knowledge. Agroecosystems( 2), which are reservoirs of biodiversity and account for 30% of the earth's surface, should receive far more attention from international programmes.
The glaciers in the tropical Andes shrunk between 30 and 50% in 30 years, which represents the highest rate observed over the last three centuries. IRD researchers and their partners( 1) recently published a summary which chronicles the history of these glaciers since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1730 of our era, in the middle of the Little Ice Age*. The faster melting is due to the rapid climate change which has occurred in the tropics since the 1950s, and in particular since the end of the 1970s, leading to an average temperature rise of 0.7°C in this part of the Andes. At the current pace of their retreat, small glaciers could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, affecting water supply for the populations.