New Bird Discovered on Unexplored Colombian Mountain

10/5/2006

Discovery made possible through BP Conservation Programme project

Bogota, Colombia  � A new bird to science was recently discovered on an unexplored mountain range in northern Colombia by a team supported by the BP Conservation Programme. It was named �Yariguies Brush-Finch,� with the scientific name Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum.

The new brush-finch was described by an Anglo-Colombian team of biologists including Thomas Donegan (Fundaci�n ProAves) and Blanca Huertas (Natural History Museum and University College London), following their leadership of the first biological exploration of the Yarigu�es mountains. The description was published in the June issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club (Vol. 126: June 2006).

The new bird is named for the Yariguies indigenous people who formerly inhabited the mountain range where the bird was found. A large and colorful finch with black, yellow and red plumage, the new species differs from its closest relatives in having a black back and no white markings on its wings. It also is found in other nearby mountains in Colombia�s eastern Andean range. Genetic, morphological and vocal studies have confirmed its identity as a new taxon.

�Before we began this study, no one knew what species lived in the Yarigu�es Mountains and whether they needed protecting,� said Thomas Donegan. �Now, we are beginning to describe new taxa and a national park was established in the region. It is surprising that this new brush-finch and the forests of the Yarigu�es Mountains could remain unstudied, undescribed and unprotected for so long.�

This description is noteworthy in that one of the two birds caught by the team and used in the description as a type specimen was released unharmed, a DNA sample and photographs having been taken. This is the first time that a live specimen has been used for the description of a new bird following the approval by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature of such techniques last year.

With biological justification resulting from this research and following other initiatives, Serran�a de los Yarigu�es was declared a national park last year by the Colombian government and a large forest nature reserve was recently established in the region by Fundaci�n ProAves, Colombia�s bird conservation NGO.

�The description of a new bird is a rare event in modern times,� said Blanca Huertas. �However, this is just the first of several new species that we will be describing from the Yarigu�es Mountains. In my own specialist group, butterflies, we have found several new taxa that will be described soon.�

The new bird discovered was funded due to an on-going commitment to the environment from BP, whom supports the BP Conservation Programme Awards. This year, the programme awarded 27 winning teams from 21 different countries with support totalling $475,000.

The awards support the vital work of a new rising generation of conservation professionals and drive practical research projects addressing a wide range of global environmental issues.

This year, 19 teams were awarded �Future Conservationist Awards� and eight awards were granted to teams to continue and further their projects that previously were awarded funding from the BP Conservation Programme. Three teams received �Conservation Leadership Awards� and five teams received �Conservation Follow-up Awards.�

The annual awards aim to develop leadership potential in a new generation of conservation professionals and address global conservation priorities at a local level by assisting and encouraging teams of young people to undertake important conservation projects globally.

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The BP Conservation Programme is a partnership between BP, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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