Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Seed banks and biodiversity

The BBC recently had this nice story of a minute waterlily brought back from extinction through stored seed:

"Two years ago, this delicate bloom went extinct in the wild due to over-exploitation of its habitat.

Luckily its seeds were kept in storage - and were used by Carlos Magdalena to regrow the plant at Kew Gardens - just outside London.

It took him months to find the ideal conditions for growth. He hopes now that the Thermal Lily will flourish once again in the hot springs of Rwanda...." (read more)

There is also a passionate piece on the urgency of banking seed as a way of safeguarding species for the future:

"Kew's Millennium Seed Bank is a unique, global asset. It is the largest facility of its kind in the world and contains the world's most diverse seed collections.

Over the past 10 years, more than 3.5 billion seeds from 25,000 species have been collected and stored in their country of origin and in Kew.

Species are chosen by country partners according to whether they are rare or endangered or of particular potential use - for example as medicine, food, animal fodder or shelter.

Described by Sir David Attenborough as "perhaps the most ambitious conservation initiative ever", the partnership will announce on 15 October the banking and conservation of 10% of the world's plant species." (read more)

And if you thought cities were a desert, in terms of biodiversity, you couldn't be more wrong:

"There are four bodies lying and crouching in our tiny back garden. The ecologists from the Natural History Museum (NHM) got here only minutes ago, but, while the kettle boils, they are already grubbing about behind our bins, under our windowsills, in the lawn, flowerbed and log pile.

They are doing a "bioblitz" – trying to find as many species of animal and plant as possible in this small, suburban south-west
London garden. Our back garden is only 12 paces long and seven wide, with, now I look at it through the eyes of ecologists, pitifully few flowers. Happily, they appear undaunted. "The great thing is, even with gardens like this that look fairly sterile, there's always something there," says the museum's insect specialist, Stuart Hine. "We'll move plant pots, and we'll have a look through your log pile . . . Lots of spiders, centipedes, woodlice, slugs – they'll all be there."" (read more)

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Nice one, Grace, I was very pleased to read these, so thank you!