Breakfast of Biodiversity

I started reading the book and decided to take some notes on the rainforest – the rainforest that I grew up with and miss.

Six key factors in rainforest function

  • High biodiversity (problem: low density of each species)
  • Sex pollination
  • Herbivores (problem: clumped plants become easy target; too rare starve herbivores)
  • Seed dispersal = protect offspring
  • Death (disturbance events) = opening in canopy allows things to happen
  • Soil = rapid nutrient cycle (problem: infertile)

High biodiversity (problem: low density of each species)

Not due to high temperatures and high rainfalls

Proposed explanation: free of ice sheet – more time for evolution

(problem: low density of each species): higher potential to be fragile – house of cards metaphor (not so much spider web metaphor)

(pro: low density): enemies hypothesis explains how so many species live together and not in clumps

Sex –pollination

Bees need to be sustained by flowers all year-long so that pollination can happen at all – if 2 weeks each, then 26 species at least

(problem: preserving small patches of the forest)

Herbivores (problem: clumped plants become easy target; too rare starve herbivores)

Defense: structural, chemical , mutualistic

Chemical – coevolutionary arms race

Mutualistic – my enemy’s enemy is my friend

Seed dispersal = protect offspring

Seed = energy-rich = target of animals

Solution: create a reward separate from seed itself; seed predator satiate-ion

Death (disturbance events) = opening in canopy allows things to happen

Turnover rate increased = shade-tolerant slow-growing plants (harder wood – sequester nutrients slowly)  outcompete-d by  pioneer and sun-loving plants (softer wood – invest in height not density or width)

Forests are not untouched – high capacity to restore themselves, as long as the damage is not extensive (e.g. shifting cultivation compared to commercial agriculture)

Soil = rapid nutrient cycle (problem: infertile)

Low biomass (rapid decomposition)

Acid soils (low nutrient release)

Weak negatively charged clay particles – low nutrient retention

Then, I got to this part about the hardwoods of the rainforest being prized lumber. Yes, I agree that they are very valuable, but I think the value my society places on them makes them priceless.

What am I talking about? – Exquisite wood carving, which infuses a beautiful piece of wood with a unique and priceless “spirit”. I looked around for Malaysian wood furniture and wood carving that I had so much of.

Oh I love wood… all wood, wood, wood… to go into a place without wood and marble is like leaving my comfort zone ;P

But what is so special about wood and the value we impart to it through woodwork and carving? I snooped around and found that a master wood carver in Malaysia passed on in 2002. These are some of the websites about him and his work:

Semangatkayu.com (literally means Spirit of Wood) – About & Legacy

Spirit of Wood exhibition

BOOK: Spirit of Wood: the art of Malay woodcarving

***

Something to think about:

‘Spirit of Wood’ has provided much to demonstrate the highly aesthetic and functional aspects of Malay woodcarving and has restored the Malay woodcarving to its original status as an essential art form.

MTC.com, a timber firm

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