Peruvian National Park Breaks Biodiversity Records

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A recent study reveals Peru’s Manú National Park has scored a new biodiversity record. Surveys of the park catalogue 155 amphibian and 132 reptile species putting Manú at the top of the list for biodiversity in protected natural areas.

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Located in Peru’s southern Cusco and Madre de Dios regions of Peru, Manú spans from high-elevation Andean cloud forests into the tropical rainforests of the Western Amazon. This elevation gradient results in a rich range of habitats that allow Manú to surpass Yasuní National Park in Ecuador in biodiversity, the former record holder. Yasuní  catalogued 150 amphibian and 121 reptile species, according to a study published in 2010 in PLOS ONE.

The research, published in the journal Biota Neotropica, was conducted by Alessandro Catenazzi of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Edgar Lehr of Illinois Wesleyan University, and Rudolf von May of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at University of California, Berkeley. 

With support from the Amazon Conservation Association, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the team surveyed multiple elevations and examined hundreds of museum specimens collected in the national park and its buffer zone. Analysis of DNA sequences and frog calls allowed the team to identify additional species.

“The number of species recorded in Manú is noteworthy if we consider that the national park represents only 0.01% of the planet’s land area, but houses 2.2% of all amphibians and 1.5% of all reptiles known worldwide,” said the researchers in a statement. “Amphibians such as frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians, and reptiles such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and caimans thrive there.”

In addition to the rich amphibian and reptile diversity, Manú also holds biodiversity records for birds, with more than 1,000 species and butterflies, with more than 1,200 species.

Manú and its buffer zone are also areas of high cultural importance because they support indigenous ethnic groups living in “voluntary isolation”, like the nomadic Mashco-Piro, as well as other indigenous groups, like the Matsiguenka, Harakmbut, and Yine.

The researchers predict additional species will be described in the coming years as subsequent herpetological expeditions have continued to reveal new species of amphibians and reptiles. One of the most recent discoveries was the glass frog Centrolene sabini, the world’s 7000th known amphibian species.

The Amazon Aid Foundation focuses on conservation efforts in the Madre de Dios region of Peru with help from our partners on the ground at the Amazon Conservation Association.

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