A team of 16 biologists went on a three week expedition in an uninhabited region of Suriname near the border with Brazil in South America and cataloged 1,378 plants, ants, fish, insects, birds, mammals and amphibians.
The expedition was led by Conservation International to study the role of water in Suriname, which sits in an area known as the Guiana Shield, an area of wilderness in South America that contains more than a quarter of the world’s rainforest.
The researchers got to the remote area by plane, then helicopter and finally by boat and lastly on foot, with help from local communities.
Within the Suriname’s rainforest, the scientists found six frogs and 11 fish that are among 60 creatures that may be new species, a tropical ecologist with a U.S.-based conservation group said Thursday.
Of the new creatures found include a brown tree frog dubbed as the “cocoa frog” as well as a type of poison dart frog, which secretes powerful toxins employed by local people for hunting. The Telegraph reports the frog announced its existence by leaping onto the camp table during dinner one night of the expedition.
“Given the rate at which so many populations of frogs are declining and disappearing around the world, it’s pretty exciting to be discovering new species,” Trond Larsen, with the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Conservation International said.
Among the species cataloged were a new type of tetra fish, a strangely pigmented catfish, and nine other types of new-looking fish.
A new grasshopper-like insect, called Pseudophyllinae teleutin, was found to have has sharp spines along its legs to deter predators.
Researchers also found a ruby-colored beetle, named Canthidium cf minimum for its tiny dimensions. They believe it’s possibly the second smallest dung beetle known in South America.
Dr Larsen, who is also the director the Rapid Assessment Program at Conservation International, added: “Suriname is one of the last places where an opportunity still exists to conserve massive tracts of untouched forest and pristine rivers where biodiversity is thriving. Ensuring the preservation of these ecosystems is not only vital for the Surinamese people, but may help the world to meet its growing demand for food and water as well as reducing the impacts of climate change.”
The researchers found that the abundance of freshwater in the mountainous rainforests in Suriname play an essential role in the ecosystems. “Suriname is one of the last places where an opportunity still exists to conserve massive tracts of untouched forest and pristine rivers where biodiversity is thriving,” said Dr Trond Larsen.
While the researchers found mostly clean water in the area they studied, some of the mercury levels were too high for the samples to be safe to drink, despite the fact that there is no upstream mining. “The mercury is probably blowing in from mining and industrial activities in neighboring countries. This demonstrates that even remote places are interconnected and susceptible to activities in other countries”, explained Dr. Larsen.
Canoeing Through Flooded Forest in Southeast Suriname – CI Exploration
The team discovered 60 species that are likely new to science on the expedition — and shed new light on the value that this region holds for people.
Flooded Mobile Science Camp in Southeast Suriname – CI Exploration
Sometimes, expeditions to wild and unexplored places can be a bit unpredictable. That was the case on CI’s Rapid Assessment Program exploration of a remote area of southeastern Suriname. After a downpour, the Palumeu River breached its banks which flooded the campsite. The team scrambled to pack up equipment and continue the expedition – sleeping in hammocks just inches above the rising water.
Credits: Conservation International