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Special Issue, February 2020

Academic staff of UMT, Assoc. Prof. Ts. Dr. Lam Su Shiung from the Institute of Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries (Akuatrop), has published his first article in Science (Impact factor: 41.063) on 17 January 2020. This Science Letter, entitled ‘Support Austria’s glyphosate ban’, co-authored by Dr. Lam together with researchers from China and Denmark, aims to raise awareness on the harmful effects of glyphosate (the most used agrochemical herbicide weed killer worldwide) on animals and humans, and therefore calls for the world to enact a total ban of glyphosate use. Alternative solutions such as replacing glyphosate herbicide with natural and ecological weedkilling alternatives and less intensive farming are proposed.

Later on 14 February 2020, luck falls on UMT again when Dr. Lam has published another article in Science entitled 'Wildfire puts koalas at risk of extinction', This article, first-authored by him, highlights the environmental impact of Australian wildfire that has put koala 'bears' (Phascolarctos cinereus) at risk of extinction. This species, estimated to have only 43,000 individuals remained in our world,  have undergone drastic population declines due to hunting, car accidents, deforestation, climate change, and diseases. What is more alarming is that the recent Australia wildfires have put them in grave danger, killing at least 25,000 koalas. Therefore, several environmental initiatives are proposed to help the koala population, such as increasing forestation in their key habitat areas while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint and climate change currently threatening so many other species and the environment overall.
The joint efforts above were initiated since 2019 during Dr. Lam’s research attachment as Visiting Professor at Henan Agricultural University (HAU) under a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) between UMT and HAU, which proves to be a fruitful collaboration that also involves researchers from Malaysia, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and China. 
Researchers from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (Dr James Tan Chun Hong and Mr Mohd Safuan Che Din) were involved in one of the largest study ever conducted of its kind identifying where and how to save coral reef communities in the Indo-Pacific. Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution entitled “Social-environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene”  involved the efforts of more than 80 authors who surveyed coral abundance on more than 2,500 reefs across 44 countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The findings revealed that the majority of reefs had functioning coral communities with a living cover of architecturally complex species that give reefs their distinctive structure. After the damage caused by severe heat stress during the 2014-17 El Niño event, the authors found nearly 450 reefs in 22 countries across the Indo-Pacific that survived in climate ‘cool spots’ that should be prioritized for urgent protection and management. This paper also presents a conservation framework of three management strategies: protect, recover, and transform to safeguard reef ecologies and ecosystem services into the future. The study also identifies the minimum requirements to save functioning reefs. This required evaluating the impacts of 20 environmental, climatic, and human-caused stressors on reef-building corals. The authors found that higher abundances of framework-building corals were normally associated with weaker thermal disturbance and longer recovery period, slower human population growth, reduced access by human settlements and the associated markets, as well as far from agricultural impacts. The study’s findings stress that strategic local management can play a role in helping protect corals through tools such as marine protected areas or other management restrictions that reduce threats and keep coral reefs above functional thresholds. However, the authors noted that local management can complement but not replace the need for worldwide efforts to limit carbon emissions. For more details of the study please go to .
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Universiti Malaysia Terengganu · The Chancellery,  · Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu 21300 · Malaysia

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