Another extraordinary species of the genus Thismia, Thismia kelabitiana, has been finally published and recognized by the world scientific community. Its Latin scientific name (kelabitiana) refers to the Kelabit people, on whose land it grows. And because this extravagant species has only been found in the forests of Pa’Umor and nowhere else in the world, its official common name is Pa’Umor Fairy Lantern. Similarly to other Fairy Lanterns, this plant misses green leaves and cannot gain energy from sun and use it via photosynthesis. Its life therefore depends on fungi that are further connected with trees. For this reason, Pa’Umor Fairy Lantern can only be found in the deepest and darkest parts of the jungle. What distinguishes this beauty from its relatives is its extraordinary appearance – relatively large yellow flowers with a distinctive fringe and a small cap-like structure called mitre. For more info, see the original article at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0203443
Fairy Lanterns (genus Thismia) are an extraordinarily obscure group of plants. They are usually very small and inconspicuous and can easily be overlooked on the forest floor. That’s why scientists are begining to gather information on their life strategies and evolution only recently. An intriguing hallmark of the whole group is absence of green leaves and green (photosynthetic) organs in general. They do not need them, because the nutrition is provided by symbiotic fungi that are further connected to green plants, mainly trees. Fairy Lanterns are therefore dependent on many different organisms and thus very sensitive to any disturbance of this fragile network. That is why Fairy Lanterns grow almost exclusively in pristine primary forests. And because forests of Pa’Umor are really natural, these amazing plants are very diverse in them. As a proof, a research article describing four new species from the Kelabit Highlands have been recently published (see http://rdcu.be/JfiH). They were named after the most prominent characteristics: acuminata (being pointed on top), laevis (being smooth inside the flower), nigra (black) and viridistriata (possessing green stripes). The first two are quite rare, but the latter two can be found quite easily. Can you do it, too?
Scientific journal Mycological Progress recently published descriptions of two fungal species new to science that had been discovered in the forests of Pa’Umor (see the paper at http://rdcu.be/yiSK). These very tiny mushrooms (only around 0.5 mm!) were named Octospora kelabitiana and Octosporopsis erinacea. The former name was given in honour of the Kelabit people and the Kelabit Highlands – the only region on Earth where it has been found. The latter name means erinaceous (hedgehog-like) and refers to the hairs resembling hedgehog’s prickles. Both of the fungi inhabit mainly untouched forests and both have a peculiar life style. They are parasites of small moss-related plants called liverworts or hepatics that grow mostly on boulders or fallen trees in or near forest rivers. These species are the very first representatives of this group of fungi discovered in Borneo, but many other similar species occur (not only) in Pa’Umor forests and wait for being discovered. Can you find them in the huge and yet so fragile jungle?
Forests of Pa’Umor hide many treasures – treasures that nobody has ever seen and that possibly cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. This is a finding of a recent Czech botanical-mycological expedition to the Kelabit Highlands. In the course of a few days, nine new species of plants and fungi were discovered that bear witness to extraordinary values of not only Pa’Umor forests, but tropical rainforests in general. In this post, we present very first publicly available pictures of some of these extravagant organisms. Details about their life, roles in the forest ecosystem or how they can help us understand the forests’ values will be presented in the following posts.
Balikpapan is a large seaport city on the east coast of Borneo in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. From Pa’Umor far and different enough. Though, it faces similar problems as every other city, town or village on the island – too fast, economy-driven develepment that mostly leads to irreversible destruction of the surrounding environment. Do not be indifferent; sign the petition against the highly controversial Pulau Balang Bridge and help Balikpapan Bay survive. In turn, people of Balikpapan may help you in the future.
It took some time, but here it is – own Pa’Umor community’s website. Although it may seem that such a small village hidden somewhere in a deep jungle of Borneo does not actually need anything like this, the opposite is true. Pa’Umor community is aware of the globalizing world in which ways of sustainable development need to be urgently looked for. The village possess extraordinarily rich cultural, historical and natural potential, but everything is diminishing slowly. Not only way of life and cultural traditions are changing, nature is no exception and Borneo has become a horrible example of human’s hunger for natural resources that resulted in catastrophic deforestation with many consequences for both human and wildlife across the island.
Fortunatelly, Pa’Umor has been quite lucky and its forests are still mostly pristine. The Kelabit people are also aware of huge importance of forests in their lives and culture. Many actions are therefore taken to preserve the natural environment for future generations. This website should help this difficult task by several ways. First, it should inform the world about beauties of Pa’Umor, its people, nature and biodiversity. Visitors could then help increase income of local families in sustainable manner. Second, Pa’Umor community is active in several programmes that shall preserve or even improve local environment. This website will inform you about their progress and successes. Third, Pa’Umor forests have huge scientific potential. Several plant species new to science have been recently discovered there and many discoveries can be expected in the future. Because world of science and scientists may sometimes appear somewhat closed and isolated, this web should provide these exciting news also to other people.
The introductory post is over. Keep your eye on us in the future, we believe you will not be disappointed 😉