Biomimicry of mangroves’ filtration

Biomimicry, as defined by the Biomimicry Institute, is “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” President Janine Benyus explains in the following video:

That mangroves desalinate seawater has been known to scientists for decades1,with David Attenborough writing in his 1994 book, The Private Life of Plants:

“Some mangroves deal with (the) continuous inward flow of salt by carrying it away from their roots in their sap and depositing it in their older leaves that are soon due to be shed. Others have glands on their leaves which excrete it in solutions that are twenty times more concentrated than their sap, and even greater than it is in sea water.”2

One study found that salt filtration by the roots prevents some 80% of salt from entering the shoot. Of what salt remains to enter the root xylem and reach the leaves, only 40% is removed by the salt-secreting glands.3

For a brief explanation of how different mangrove species extrude salt, see the video lecture below, presented by Lecturer in Environmental Marine Biology at the University of Hull, UK, Dr Magnus Johnson:

Fast forward to 2015, when Team Planet answered the Biomimicry Institute’s Global Design Challange with their Mangrove Still design, which can desalinate water and provide it to the land or for drinking,” with efficiency comparable to current solar stills but at costs five times lower making it a financially viable desalination process… for poor people.” See a video about the team’s design below:

Team Planet‘s Co-founder and Certified Biomimicry Professional Alessandro Bianciardi discusses the Mangrove Still as a Biomimicry Design Challenge Ray of Hope Prize Finalist here.

For a longer presentation about Team Planet’s design from engineer Edoardo Pini see below:

1 Scholander, P. F., Hammel, H. T., Hemmingsen, E. A., & Bradstreet, E. D. (1964). Hydrostatic pressure and osmotic potential in leaves of mangroves and some other plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 52(1), 119-125.

2Attenborough, D. (1995). The private life of plants: a natural history of plant behaviour. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 298 cited in “Old Leaves Help Remove Excess Salt : Mangroves.” AskNature. Accessed on 1 February 2017.

3Waisel, Y., Eshel, A. and Agami, M. (1986), Salt balance of leaves of the mangrove Avicennia marina. Physiologia Plantarum, 67: 67–72. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3054.1986.tb01264.x

Wildscan Wildlife Identification App Launches in Cambodia

One of the greatest challenges for wildlife rangers, life enforcement officers and the general public in Cambodia is identifying protected species, whether in the field, at restaurants or at markets.  Recently launched in Khmer (the primary spoken language in Cambodia) and optimised to feature local species often targeted by the illegal wildlife trade, WildScan is sure to prove a valuable tool. Sincere thanks to Wildlife Alliance, anti-wildlife trafficking organization Freeland, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for developing this innovation app.

Wildscan Wildlife ID app launches in Cambodia

WildScan: Wildlife identification app launches in Cambodia to stop illegal trading

WildScan project manager Matthew Pritchett agreed, and added that Cambodia is being used to traffic foreign wildlife as well which law enforcement may not be familiar with – which is where the WildScan app comes in handy.

A Forestry Administration officer, Lun Panha, told the Phnom Penh Post that the app helps to tell him “which animals are rare or endangered species”.


See also:

Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) Wildlife Monitoring Solutions

In their words, “TEAM’s mission is to deliver multi-scale, real-time understanding of how key elements of Earth’s operating system — climate, carbon stocks, biodiversity — are changing, and what this means for people.”

TEAM network offers several solutions for wildlife monitoring, as detailed here and here.


Two new tools for camera-trap data handling and analysis



Software to automatically identify animals from their natural markings:

Camera-trapping analysis

Camera trapping expert Pedro Sarmento blogs in detail about how to analyse camera-trap data using the latest methodologies. Even if you don’t understand Portuguese screenshots and links to primary literature will guide you through complex analysis methods.

The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)

“The remaining wildlife in Seima Protected Forest, including the treasured elephant, is under constant threat from poaching, logging, mining, agriculture, and infrastructure development. Due to a combination of factors, such as limited rangers and remote substations, it is difficult to manage patrol efforts and achieve conservation goals. The team uses SMART to collate and transform collected data into easy to read maps of patrol coverage and observations, as well as summary tables of effort, results, confiscations and arrests.”