Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reaction Papers: Life of Mammals and Bird Watching

Kelvin Ryan S. Marcelo

Social Climbers and Food for Thought

Social Climbers and Food for Thought are documentaries that discuss primate behaviour in support with Darwin's well-accepted theory of evolution. Social Climber is about how different primates socialize like humans. They use methods such as grooming high-status primates and babysitting a young to establish good relationships. Primates also have classes or social status within their society. The most powerful male in the group acts as the leader, he is in charge in most activities including mating. Primate community size depends on the type of primate; more accurately it depends on the brain size of the primate. It was observed that the larger brain size of a primate is, the larger the population in their community. According to a recent study, humans which have the larger brain compared to any primate is capable of being close to a maximum of 150 people.

Food for Thought is another documentary about the evolution of primates because of food. Food is very important in any specie of animal especially primates. Fruits, leaves, insects, and termites are some of things primates eat. Primates also use different unique characteristics to gathering food, some of these are sharp claws, retractable tail, and weight to pivot their way through the woods. Some of the primates adapt new ways to gather food in order to survive. One kind of primate just recently adopted a nocturnal way of life to avoid predators. Learning and Adaptation are the key elements to survive. There is a working theory that human's primate ancestors learned to walk upright because of food. Long ago, primates inhabited the thick forests of the world and suddenly due to unknown reason the forest density minimized. This forced some primates to search for food in the open field. They adapted and learned to walk upright for mobility in the open field. They eventually evolved into the humans was know today. Human are now at the top of the food chain and capable of producing food.

From the documentaries, viewers can further understand how humans and primates are very much alike not only in the physical aspect but also in the social aspect. The main difference is that humans are far more develop and have higher intelligence. Learning and adapting to nature were once the only ways to survive, now humans harness and control nature itself. Nature which once created humans is now at the mercy of them.
The solution to build a sustainable system for humans and the environment in my opinion is controlling both. From the direct approach of controlling the population such as China’s One Child Policy and Philippines RH bill, to a relatively indirect approach of controlling the environment such as genetically engineered plants and banning of plastic bags, all of these solution I believe is part of the solution and no one solution can solve it all given the extent of the problem.

Bird Watching

Bird watching for some maybe a hobby done during their free time, others may think of it as easy money, take a photo of bird and sell it; but never did we thought of bird watching as a measure of biodiversity in an environment. During one of the meetings in our STS class, we had as a guest speaker the Chairman of the STS. He talked to us about how bird watching can be use as a form of data collection to access the biodiversity of an ecosystem. To start, he discuss that there is a diverse bird population in the University of the Philippines. In his presentation, he showed us each bird having their own uniqueness in colour, size, habitat, and food. Understanding the importance of protecting this unusual biodiversity in an urbanized area, the Chairman of STS devised a plan to monitor this bird population. First, he selected the three sample areas: the University Avenue where there is an open field and plants such as sunflowers are planted, the Shopping Center where most area is occupied with residential houses, and the Science Complex with many kinds of trees are located. Each these place attracts different species of birds. The next challenge is how to systematically gather data. The tricky part is the data gathered should be unbiased; it has to be random to ensure that samples correctly represent the whole community. The Chairman used the ‘Random Walk’ methodology where the subject is to walk randomly in the given space without a particular destination in mind. He had done this with his team every day, and tabulated each bird sighting. In his study, it was discovered that during the resent construction of new buildings there was a noticeable decline in the bird population.

After the Chairman’s presentation, we tried to the ‘Random Walk’ and tabulate bird sightings in the Science Complex. The ‘Random Walk’ part was easy; we just walk around from the sidewalk to the field to the road randomly. Tabulating our bird sightings was the hard part; the only bird we were sure of sighting is the maya. In the end, we had a hand-full of descriptions of the birds we saw such as the big bird, the yellow bird, and the fan-tailed bird.

My reaction to the work of the Chairman of STS was that it was highly commendable. He allocated a time in each day of his life during this research to protect the bird population in the University of the Philippines. Though he may not have prevented the decrease in the bird population, he was able to pinpoint the construction of new building as the cause of it. His study is an eye-opener; it tells us that humans tend to be ignorant. They ignore and disregard the effects of their activities with respect to the environment. Preserving biodiversity in a system is important because species are interdependent with each other to survive. “Imagine a world without birds.”- STS Chairman 2014

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