We know that there are more species in tropical regions and that undiscovered species are likely to be found in places that have been off-limits to exploration or that are very difficult to access. So in order to discover large numbers of species potentially new to science, we head to countries with poorly explored, remote, humid tropical mountains.
In addition, unique not-yet-described species are likely to be found in habitats that require special adaptations to survive, such as areas with low oxygen levels (e.g. swamps) and limestone caves.
To identify the best sites to explore, we start with consultations with expert scientists, who generally know which places have been explored and where the gaps in data are.
We also carry out scientific priority-setting analyses, putting together the data we currently have on species diversity with factors that affect their distribution, such as the types of habitats where species discoveries have been made. These analyses help determine where the highest concentrations of species are located and where the gaps in our knowledge lie in order to reveal the particular sites within regions that have the highest probability of yielding un-described species.
Countries with highest potential for new species discovery
Among the countries that hold potential discoveries are those that include large tracts of rainforest or isolated mountain ranges, and include: Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, India, Madagascar, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, and the Andean countries, especially Peru and Bolivia.
RAPs BY REGION
Select a region below to see all the available RAP Bulletins of Biological Assessment in pdf form.