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New lizard genus discovered in Guyana - Page 2

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New species are still being discovered. Does that mean that biodiversity is doing well?

Paradoxically, not... As a matter of fact, biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. Thousands of species are now threatened with extinction. The degradation and destruction of biotopes are the main cause, but the global climate changes also play an important role (frogs for instance are very sensitive to these climate changes).


The Kaieteur National Park is still menaced by illegal deforestation
 

It is very likely that many species disappear even before they are discovered. While scientists inventory the species diversity and discover new species, a whole series of other species becomes extinct. To use a metaphor: it is like filling up a pierced recipient, with the hole growing increasingly larger.

What makes such discoveries important?


First and foremost, these discoveries allow to increase our knowledge about biological diversity, interactions between living species and thus about the environment they live in. While space probes are being sent out to explore distant planets, thousands of species remain unknown on Earth. Furthermore, the state of biodiversity is a safeguard of prosperity for all of us that use natural resources, and we have a duty to protect it.

Photo of Phrynohyas resinifictrix
Photo of Phyllomedusa bicolor

We cannot protect what we do not know… That is why we must devote ourselves to describe living things and to understand the complexity of interactions that unite them. A species that has not been described simply does not exist. Moreover, the discovery of new endemic species in Kaieteur National Park is a solid argument for retaining and even increasing the protection of the park.

 

Who funds this line of research?

This research is funded by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation through the Belgian Focal Point to the Global Taxonomy Initiative (this website will be opened in a new window).

Why is the Belgian Development Cooperation funding this research?

Human activities result in habitat restrictions throughout the world. Our remaining biodiversity badly needs protection, but this requires sufficient scientific knowledge. Unfortunately taxonomic skills and knowledge are very limited in developing countries, although these hold a major part of our biodiversity. The Belgian Development Cooperation (site opens in a new window) has decided to invest in projects allowing both the training of local researchers and the education of the public.

Research in Kaieteur National Park aims not only at a local biodiversity inventory, but at the schooling of Guyanese researchers as well. Moreover, young assistants, recruited in the villages bordering the park, have been trained during expeditions. Local schools are also involved in the park activities: this way, the population is made aware of the importance of protecting their region’s biodiversity.

Have any other species been discovered in Kaieteur National Park?

Yes, at this moment, several species are being described. These are mainly frog species, but there is also a second new lizard species, which lives alongside Kaieteurosaurus hindsi in the park.

All photos: © Philippe Kok

 


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Last modified : April 11, 2008