23-JUL-2019: AMU faculty publishes research in 'Nature'
Aligarh, July 23: Long, piercingly chilly and brutal winters and short, mild summers don't make living conditions harsh for animals in the subarctic climate as more animals live in the far north than the tropics. This is the trail blazing findings of an international collaborative research seriously pursued and scientifically documented which features Professor Waseem Ahmad, Chairman, Department of Zoology, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), the only scientist of India. The conclusive data appeared in the latest issue of the prestigious British multidisciplinary scientific journal, 'Nature'.
The research paper also calculates that there are 57 billion soil nematodes (round worms) for every human, which is a far greater number than previously estimated besides providing a conclusive evidence that 34.7 percent of animals live in high latitude of sub-arctic regions, 24.5 percent dwell in temperate regions and 20.5 percent live in the tropics and subtropics.
Fifty scientists from USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, France, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Australia, China, Portugal, Taiwan and Singapore with Prof Wasim as the only one representing India conducted the research work.
Speaking on the importance of the new findings, Prof Wasim said that this research will transform our understanding of life on land.
He added that the study will also help in predicting climate change which not only requires the physics and chemistry of our planet, but also a sound understanding of global carbon and nutrient cycles and the biological organisms that drive these cycles.
"The research paper shows how soil nematodes makeup an estimate four-fifth of all terrestrial animals and play critical role in nutrient cycling and plant growth," said Prof Wasim adding that nematodes are more active at higher temperatures, so the large nematode populations in the arctic and sub-arctic make these regions very sensitive to warming.
"These regions compose a major reservoir of soil carbon stocks, and may release much more carbon as a result of increased soil animal activity and a prolongation of the plant-growing season due to human-induced climate change," states the research.
"Our research will help scientists to make better predictions about carbon cycling by developing models that reflect the impact of soil organisms. It will also enable land managers to make the right decisions in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change by identifying soils which need to be restored to health," said Prof Wasim.
The policy makers will have to give more emphasis on research on below ground organisms because of their obvious role in climate change, he pointed out.
Prof Wasim said: "The study on soil nematodes was conducted with 6,759 soil samples representing every continent, and every environment to determine the abundance of each type of nematodes related to climate, soil and vegetation."
Prof Wasim has over four decades of experience working on soil inhabiting nematodes from over a dozen countries of the world representing different bio-geographical regions. He has published several books and about 200 research papers in top notch scientific journals.
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