Mechanism of Speciation

The Fijian Banded Iguana is considered a national icon by the government of Fiji like the beaver is to Canada. It is found on the more southern Fijian islands and is an arboreal species. Male banded iguanas have blue or white stripes on a bright green base while females are more uniformly green with occasional faint banding or spotting. Both sexes have yellow underbellies and yellow rimmed nostrils. Like other iguanas they are able to change colour to blend in with their surroundings. They can grow up to 60 cm long (about half of this would be tail). This species of iguana is omnivorous, eating leaves, flowers and insects.

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This photo was taken by miss Calder of me and Liam getting friendly with the banded iguanas as you can see here they are very friendly !

The Fijian crested Iguana is a very endangered species of iguana and is found on the north-western islands of Fiji. It was once known to be on 14 of the Fijian islands but is currently only found on 3. The crested Iguana is a brilliant green colour with 3 white stripes that are sometimes edged with black. These iguanas can grow up to 75 cm long. They have distinctive crests lining the length of their backs. Each spine on the crest can grow up to 1.5 cm long. They have long, strong claws which makes them very good at climbing. The Fijian crested Iguana is herbivorous eating leaves, shoots, flowers and roots.

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The main method of speciation in this situation would be ecological isolation. Different islands have different sources of food. This would be the cause of the different diets of the two species of iguana. Depending on how much vegetation was available, the banded iguana would have adapted to this and developed the ability to eat insects. The predator situation would have also been different on different islands. Depending on the presence of mongoose and feral goats, different defence mechanisms would have developed. The colour changing in the banded iguana and the crests on the back of the crested iguana would have been used to blend in or as an attempt to intimidate the threat. Many other factors would have affected the evolution of both species to create the separate ones but the main method through which it happened is the fact that they were on different islands and not facing the same situations. This is what ecological isolation is. Therefore as you can see everything plays a role the food weather predators everything I believe ecological isolation would be the best possible way to preserve these amazing banded iguanas.

A close up view of the banded iguana

Koronivia Research Station

Today we had a fascinating fun filled day at the Koronivia Research Station. Before arriving at the station i was expecting a run down building with old supplies not much care and effort out into their studies and a very dirty place. But once we arrived i was immediately proved wrong the facility was beautifully set up. We first visited the pig researching stations and this was my deciding factor wether or not this would be a good station and when i arrived i saw how much love and care they put into these pigs and how they were all plump well fed and well kept the baby pigs looked so cute and were growing veery rapidly and healthy as i observed further into the station i saw a back room where they kept all they babies and it was very clean warm and protected from predators i was immediately inspired by this amazing feat. We expected to encounter different methods of plant propagation, a method of reproducing plants either sexually or asexually. When we arrived we learned about other interesting topics including: invasive species, pesticides, fertilizers, endangered insects and plants, and saw a bunch of different scientific equipment.

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Fruit flies are a major pest in Fiji. 7 different species of fruit flies are found in Fiji: Bactrocera passiflorae (Fijian fruit fly), B. xanthodes (Pacific fruit fly), B. distincta, B. gnetum, B. passiflorae, B. kirki, and B. obscura. The Fijian fruit fly and the Pacific fruit fly both have a large impact on the Fijian economy. They cause damage to commercial fruits and vegetables including: guava, mango, breadfruit, papaya, vutu and a variety of other fruits. The Koronivia Research Station study these two flies including studying the determination of host specifically of potential export commodities. Scientists from the National University of Fiji use a total of 157 modified Steiner fruit fly traps, and three types of pheromones to trap fruit flies. The specimens are carefully identified and counted for monitoring purposes. Scientists at Koronivia are also experimenting with protein bait spraying, a technique used to kill fruit flies by attracting sexually immature females in search of a liquid protein meal needed in order to lay eggs. This protein applied to plants attracts fruit flies that come to feed, which are killed by insecticides in the mixture.

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Today was an interesting day we got the chance to learn about many different scientific topics and got to see labs with interesting scientific equipment and technologies. The Koronivia Research Station has been researching fruit flies and has developed several methods to minimize their negative impact on Fiji’s economy. The work they are doing may be very beneficial to understanding these tiny insects, and may help in protecting Fiji’s production and export of fruits and vegetables. I am a firm supporter of this station and will eventually donate to it.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance refers to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. For example if one does not finish their 2 weeks worth of antibiotics, and a few bacteria survive. These bacteria are the ones that were tougher than the average bacteria. They reproduce, and now you have a new strain that is all born from these tougher bacteria. After repeating this process many times, a bacteria that is completely resistant to the particular antibiotic is born.

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Antibiotic resistance usually occurs when a person does not finish their medication and there are remaining bacteria left within the body. If medications aren’t finished and the bacteria aren’t completely killed off, the remaining bacteria could possibly mutate and develop into a strain that is resistant to the antibiotics, a perfect example of something like this would be MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Another possible way antibiotic resistance could occur is when a person takes antibiotics that aren’t needed. A common case is when people try to take antibiotics for the common cold or other virus centred illness. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and if someone were to take antibiotics in this way the only effect it will have is that other bacteria inside the body are developing a resistance to that type of medicine.

There are multiple ways to prevent antibiotic resistance. First of all, it is important not to use antibiotics when you don’t have to such as the non bacterial infections mentioned in the paragraph above. If you do have a legitimate reason to take antibiotics, be sure to complete the course of treatment, so that the disease will be attacked enough that your immune system can finish it off. The most important thing however is to keep proper hygiene to reduce the spread of diseases and pests (They will not evolve if they’re not there). Some other tips include not feeding antibiotics to livestock and healthcare providers not giving antibiotics for viral infections.
A doctor prescribing antibiotics, lets hope it’s not for a patient with the common cold.

Antibiotic resistance is also possible through horizontal gene transfer, the bacteria with mutations allow them to live and survive through reproduction this will then be passed down to the offspring causing a new generation of antibiotic resistant offspring. If this does happen, doctors and scientist are forced to engineer new drugs that will not be stopped by the resistance to the bacteria. This is already happening but will be difficult because the bacteria will keep creating immunities to the new medicines as well.

Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon that is affecting our world significantly. It is hard to believe how bacteria could evolve so fast to be able to survive our antibiotics this represents Darwin’s theory of evolution extremely well- the need to evolve to survive. However, with proper use and care, antibiotic resistance could be significantly lowered with the help of doctors and patients alike to ensure the health of our world’s population.

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I think these two photos are very funny but also a very simple to the point pictures about antibiotic resistance! 🙂

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Lactose Evolution

Lactose intolerance also called lactase deficiency and hypolactasia is a problem that many people have, in simple terms its the inability to properly digest lactose causing effects such as bloating, cramps, nausea and severe stomach pains. People who have this problem all have insufficient levels of lactase, this is an enzyme that catalyzes hydrolysis of lactose into glucose in the digestive system. Lactose products are everything to do with dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice-cream ect. These products are what effect people with lactose intolerance.

Fiji’s population has a very high amount of people with lactose intolerance, the reason for this is because milk and dairy products have not been in Fiji for a very long time, making the body’s of Fijians not very adapted to these products causing a higher number of lactose intolerance cases. India is an example of the exact opposite situation. Cows have been in India for many many generations meaning dairy products have also been around India for a long time. India having consumed dairy products for so long has adapted the people in India to a lactose tolerant place.

Natural selection is when a species adapts to its environment just like India adapting to survive off of dairy products, while doing this they naturally built up a strong working lactose digestion. Fiji not being able to adapt because of the fact that they have not had cows for as long.Over time places not as adapted to lactose such as Fiji will become better and better as they slowly get used to it just like india.

For people with lactose intolerance there are many different ways to help this issue.

1. Take a medication that enables you to intake lactose for a brief time.

2. Use substitute dairy products such as goat milk.

3. Talk to your doctor about slowly introducing lactose into your system.

4.Or simply don’t ingest dairy products.

I believe over time lactose intolerance will decrease with people slowly adapting to lactose and also with medical ways to prevent lactose intolerance. Fijians will eventually get more and more use to lactose as the years go by this will decrease the chance of lactose intolerance therefore giving people the chance to live healthier lives.

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Ecosystem Restoration

Today was a very exciting day but sad day at the same time. It was a very amusing day because we got to participate in a variety of different interesting activities but at the same time it was sad because it was the last activity of this trip. Although I was very sick and did not have a chance to participate in the activities, I enjoyed in watching the activities. It was fun seeing kids snorkel and contribute to a major coral reef restoration project by planting corals in the Pacific Ocean. After we left the coral plantation and went to Votua Village, it was entertaining watching the traditional Fijian welcoming Kava ceremonies. In Votua Village I learned a lot about coral reefs and the village’s impact on their restoration, from a local’s PowerPoint presentation.

The main educational component of the trip was learning about ecosystem restoration through marine conservation efforts in Votua Village. In Votua Village we spent the afternoon learning about the coral planting project that helps preserve and restore damaged biodiversity. Biodiversity is the richness and variation of life seen in healthy ecosystems on Earth. It is an enormous food web in which energy flows from autotrophs (organisms that can make their own food) to heterotrophs (organisms that must consume other organisms for food). Biodiversity is very important because the more species there are in a food web (the more biodiverse it is) the more stable the ecosystem is because if one of the species is taken away or becomes extinct it will not have a destructive impact on other species and the rest of the food web is more likely to survive. In simpler terms, greater diversity gives the ecosystem more resilience to changes in the environment.

The purpose of the coral restoration project in Votua was to restore coral and the ecosystem that depends on it. The reason for doing this is because much of Fiji’s coral reefs have been damaged or killed due to: overharvesting, destructive fishing practices, wastewater pollution, global warming, and sedimentation/ runoff from land. To improve the condition of corals near Votua and neighbouring villages a plan was put in place. Some of the elements of this plan included: reducing the pollutants from wastewater disposed in the Pacific Ocean, and a coral planting project. We were given the opportunity to plant small coral pieces that had been grown for an average of 6 months on underwater metal trays. By replanting the pieces of coral in places where much had died, we were promoting the redevelopment of a new coral ecosystem.

I believe that the project is effective in the restoration of a coral ecosystem. They manage to effectively grow coral shards and plant them. On the down side they are only planting a couple different types of coral, so this will likely cause the ecosystem to be less diverse. Some of the short term impacts of the project include: regrowth of coral in areas where it was damaged, support of the growth of a new ecosystem, reduction of algae on the ocean floor. Some of the long term effects include: a stable and biodiverse ecosystem, a large reef preventing soil erosion from waves and storms and more large game fish available for fishing.

In conclusion while observing Votua Village’s coral planting project it is clear that the village is progressing rapidly in its marine conservation efforts. It already hosts advanced coral reef research and education, as well as guided snorkeling tours that incorporate the planting of new corals. While it has many different objectives planned out, just like in all projects there are various possible ways to improve. Most importantly, if the government assisted with the coral plating project by establishing strict laws against destructive fishing in MPA’s and financing projects looking to stop sedimentation and wastewater pollution, the coral reefs would be restored more quickly, creating a more stable marine ecosystem.

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The Real Dichotomous Key

Siting my photos
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