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NP QUARTERLY

December 2008

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COVER STORY

Nipping in the Bud - Establish a Biodiversity Database based on GIS

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Bright and colorful, Pitta brachyurs is a rare species globally protected.
In recent years, the distribution of butterflies and birds of Taiwan has been gradually spread toward high elevation areas. This is actually just a piece of the panorama of global ecological changes. More and more evidence has shown that global warming is the chief culprit to this ecological shock. Both the movie “The Day after Tomorrow” and “An Inconvenient Truth” bring the gravity of this problem up before the viewers.
 
Facing the Issue of Climate Changes
Despite the skepticism about its gravity, global warming has become a non-negligible fact, posing substantial impacts on current ecosystems, including apparent vicissitudes of biological communities, changes in the flowering periods of plants, vanishing of species and changes in their distribution, invasions of alien species, etc. These changes will ultimately affect the food chain and biodiversity, leading to a badly damaged ecosystem.
In other words, climate changes strike biodiversity, which in turn affects the climate. This has currently become a weighty global issue. As a member of the global village, what can Taiwan do to help mitigate the shock? Director of the Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, NTU, as well as the host of the Spatial Ecology Lab, Prof. Pei-fen Lee suggests, “[I]t is urgent to establish a biodiversity database in Taiwan as the basis for domestic environmental policies.”
 
Indeed, scientific figures are required when formulating environmental plans and policies. Furthermore, these data can be accumulated, compared and circulated to maximize their benefit. Yet Taiwan is relatively behind in this aspect.
 
Prof. Lee recalls back in 1978, as a college student doing animal field surveys, he had to take and use forms and maps separately. It was until his studying abroad did he learn the GIS technology and the concepts of digitalization and spatialization of data.
  • upper: Bright and colorful, Pitta brachyurs is a rare species globally protected.

Interview & Text/ Jia-jyun Lan
Special thanks/ Prof. Pei-fen Lee
Translator/ James Chang

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