discoveries in the Amazon 2014-2015
An increasing number of scientific discoveries are allowing researchers and institutions to gradually unveil the biodiversity in the Amazon. This is what this report on Untold treasures: New species discoveries in the Amazon 2014-15 shows. The publication was developed by the Living Amazon Initiative of the WWF Network and by the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development (MISD), with the support of WWF-Brazil and WWF-UK. Over these two years, 381 new species were described in the Amazon region, including 216 plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 19 reptiles, 1 bird, and 20 mammals (2 of which are fossils).
Despite these many new discoveries, the largest tropical forest in the world remains a mystery in many ways owing to its vast size and toa lack of resources for scientific research. Moreover, sampling sizes should ideally contain a greater number of specimens, and records could cover larger areas. However, what we see are collection sites that are geographically distant from one another. Consequently, most existing records result from the observations and collections made along the main rivers, near large cities and in the better-studied protected areas. Thus, new studies of the Amazon’s diversity, in particular those carried out in the remotest areas, continue to reveal a large number of species that are as yet unknown to science.
The discovery of these species is an important argument in favour of designating protected areas. For this reason, the building and dissemination of knowledge about the new discoveries is key to supporting conservation efforts. This fascinating universe of discoveries includes the fire-tailed titi monkey or Milton’s titi (Plecturocebus miltoni), found in 2010 in an expedition organized by WWF-Brazil, under the scientific leadership of biologist Júlio César Dalponte, from the Mato Grosso State University – UNEMAT. In 2015, the species was described by Dalponte together with researchers from the MISD and of the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Pará. Although scientists tend to expect to find new species in the Amazon region, Dalponte was surprised to find such distinctive-looking and striking primate there. How could it have remained unknown to science for so long?
Just like the fire-tailed titi monkey (or Milton’s titi), other wondrous species remain to be discovered, and subsequently protected. This publication is the result of hard work done by the team from the Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá (Mamirauá Sustainable Development Institute), which, at the request of WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative, pored over countless scientific articles to review the literature and compile a list of new species of vertebrates and plants discovered in the Amazon and described between January 2014 and December 2015.
We hope that this compilation of information about these new species discovered by many dedicated scientists from different institutions will inspire passionate young scientists and stimulate new research studies. We also hope it acts as a wake-up call to the urgent need to safeguard the ecological integrity of ecosystems, their species, and the immeasurable value of the ecological goods and services that the Amazon biome offers to our populations, both locally and worldwide.
Enjoy the discoveries!
WWF and Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development.