To make the case for improved conservation practices, scientists from Conservation International (CI) and partner institutions are presenting a report to government officials that details eastern Suriname’s invaluable biodiversity. The report documents the results of a 2005 expedition and 2006 follow-up survey, led by CI’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP), during which researchers found 24 species previously unknown to science.
A frog with florescent purple markings (Atelopus spp.) and other amphibians, fish, and insects are among the newly discovered species.
"This is a totally unexplored area: lots of new species, with many more still to be found," says Leeanne Alonso, CI vice president and head of the RAP program. "Our study will be a vital component in determining how to promote economic development in Suriname while protecting the nation’s most valuable natural assets."
Partnerships with Mining Companies
There are few places like Suriname left in the world. Suriname and its neighbors on the Guayana Shield are home to the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical rain forest on the planet. Nearly 20 percent of the world's water runs through the region.
Still, Suriname’s pristine forests are increasingly threatened by small-scale, illegal gold mining. When undertaken without due care, mining can damage fragile ecosystems by degrading water quality within the region's extensive system of rivers, streams, and reservoirs. Small-scale mining has already affected the two unprotected plateaus surveyed during the RAP expedition, 80 miles south of the Suriname capital of Paramaribo
Because it is imperative for mining companies to understand their potentially harmful impacts on the environment, CI partnered with BHP-Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco), a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc., to conduct the RAP expedition. This enabled conservationists to give miners guidance on protecting unique plants and animals during potential future development.
"Where current economic imperatives dictate mining, our responsibility is to ensure that operations are kept within the bounds of our benchmarks," says CI-Suriname Executive Director Ambassador W. Udenhout.
Partnering with companies that have not yet mined in these regions generated important results. In the relatively unexplored region, researchers discovered freshwater sources clean enough to support abundant fish and amphibian life. The expedition team recorded a total of 467 species. Among them, scientists documented 27 species that live nowhere else on Earth. They also rediscovered a rare armored catfish (Harttiella crassicauda) that was thought to be extinct and had not been seen for more than 50 years.
The expedition report presented today highlights the need to protect freshwater streams and prevent natural habitat from becoming fragmented in the face of unchecked or poorly planned development. The sponsoring mining companies continue to partner with CI in Suriname and have funded follow-up research to learn more about whether to pursue projects in this region. Conservationists are hopeful that government leaders will likewise study the RAP's results and consider actions to protect Suriname's biodiversity.
Benefits Beyond Suriname
The ramifications of the report extend far beyond the Suriname plateaus. Its findings could be used to help protect the amphibian populations that are dying worldwide, in part due to a fungal disease that makes their skins more vulnerable to infection. According to Alonso, frog populations discovered during the RAP expedition do not yet have that disease and are still thriving.
Scientists also found fish species in the area to be highly diverse. To ensure the continued survival of the rediscovered catfish, Jan Mol, a local Suriname scientist, recommends, "Hartiella crassicauda should be added as soon as possible to the IUCN Red List of Endangered species to protect it from extinction."
The report’s assessment of Suriname's biodiversity could also provide more reason to keep the Amazon rain forest intact for the benefit of both global water resources and the global climate. Preventing deforestation in the Amazon is important in minimizing the effects of climate change, as cutting and burning tropical forests contributes to 20 percent of the world's carbon emissions.
"Suriname has some of the Amazon’s most pristine and intact rain forest, which offers huge potential for scientific research and economic investment in carbon sequestration, as well as the sustenance it has always provided local communities," Alonso says.
Tom Cohen | EurekAlert!
Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University
Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences