May 20, 2008

Scientists Discover New Hidden Animal and Plant Species

From The Nature Conservancy

Expedition of Indonesian Caves and Cliffs Reveal Record Levels of Biodiversity, but Logging and Fires Threaten to Destroy Unique Plant and Animal Life

East Kalimantan, Indonesia — December 20, 2004 — A team of international scientists led by The Nature Conservancy today announced the discovery of at least two new fish species and a variety of previously unknown insect, snail and plant species living in the karst systems of Borneo.

During a five-week expedition through the karst systems – limestone caves, cliffs and sinkholes – the scientists also documented high levels of rare plant and animal species found only in Borneo. The expedition was the first biological study ever to document the plant and animal species that live in the karst systems of the East Kalimantan region of Borneo.

“The team’s discovery of such a wide variety of plants and animals, and particularly the high number of rare species found nowhere else on Earth, shows the critical need to protect this area from the growing threats of logging, mining and fire,” said Scott Stanley, the Conservancy’s Program Manager for East Kalimantan. “This area appears to have the largest number of endemic species of any ecosystem on Borneo.”

The expedition team surveyed four karst systems in the Sangkulirang Peninsula of East Kalimantan. Several of these karst areas have already been hit by devastating fires in recent years. Illegal logging and mining operations are quickly spreading through the area, destroying critical habitat and contributing to the spread of wildfires.

The areas surveyed by the expedition team currently have no protective status and are highly vulnerable to damaging human activities.

“In just five weeks, the expedition team discovered numerous new species previously unknown to science. Who knows what else is out there?” Stanley said. “If something is not done soon to protect these areas, dozens of species could disappear before anyone knew they ever existed.”

Along with the new discoveries, scientists documented 34 different bat species living in the surveyed area – more than in any other area of Kalimantan, including protected preserves. Several of the bat species had never before been found in Kalimantan.

Scientists also documented 124 species of birds in the karst areas, nearly one-third of all the non-migratory, non-wetland birds found in Borneo.

And at least five new insect species, including a “monster” cockroach, a “micro-crab,” and a giant troglobitic (cave specialist) millipede were also discovered.

“Nearly all of the insects we collected are new to science,” said Louis DeHarveng, an entomologist and director of research of the French Academy of Science who participated in the survey. “Sangkulirang appears to have some of the most diverse cave species on Earth.”

Other notable discoveries made during the expedition were:

* At least two new species of begonias
* One new species of Monophyllaea (a one-leafed plant)
* Two new species of snails
* Several new fish species

The expedition of the Sangkulirang karst systems was conducted from July 31 to September 3, 2004. The Nature Conservancy sponsored and organized the trip with the financial support of the Sall Family Foundation. Among those participating in the expedition were scientists from Indonesia’s Institute of Sciences, the U.S. Park Service, the University of London, the French Academy of Science, and the Singapore Botanical Garden.


Chun Xing said...

This is a great news. I'm interested in their discovery but.....I've searched all over the internet and found no photographs of their discoveries and names of the scientists.

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