Famed White Mountain Range is home to the newly-revealed mouse, plant and beetles
Lima, Peru – Scientists announced today the discovery of
four species, three of which are confirmed as new to science and one likely new,
in the forests around the world-renowned White Mountain Range in Peru. The
species: a mouse (Akodon sp.nov), a high-Andean plant (Senecio
sanmarcosensis) and two beetles (Eriopis canrash and Cycloneda
andresii) were discovered during a series of expeditions conducted between
2005 and 2008.
The small rodent from the genus Akodon lives between 2,880m (9449ft)
and 4,733m (15,528ft) above sea level and is only found in the Ancash region.
The mouse plays an important role in controlling insect populations and
dispersing seeds throughout the ecosystem.
The other surprising discovery is the plant Senecio sanmarcosensis
which is part of the high-Andean wetlands vegetation. This vegetation
serves as a water reservoir for the local people, and purifies the mountain
water that sustains communities at the foot of the mountains. The plant blooms
between May and July, and it is only found in three locations, all above 4,500m
The Asociación de Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN),
Conservation International’s partner and leader in the discoveries, believes
that, using IUCN’s Red List criteria, this endemic
plant species from the Ancash region should be listed as Near Threatened (NT)
because it is only found in a handful of areas that face threats such as
The two beetles, Eriopis canrash and Cycloneda andresii, are unique
creatures that control the aphid and Acarus populations that devastate crops
that are important to local communities.
“It has been an amazing experience to have participated in a scientific
expedition, studied the biodiversity of 13 Andean forests or queñuales – common
Spanish name for Polylepis – in Peru, get to know the landscapes and
overall, you have the chance to talk to the local population” said Constantino
Auca, ECOAN’s President.
The queñuales forests, where these species live, are vital to restricting
soil erosion and, at the same time, produce a vast amount of vital oxygen. These
forests are among the highest in the world, and many of them are located near
snow-capped mountains. They are reservoirs for water that is critical to the
These queñuales forests also host 50 percent of the plants that local
communities use for medicinal purposes and they are home to mammals such as the
mountain lion (Puma concolor), Southern viscacha (Lagidium
viscacia), Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) and the North Andean
deer (Hippocamelus antisensis), among others.
The major threats to the area include uncontrolled logging, unsustainable
shepherding practices, forest fires and mining.
“Conservation International is very proud to be part of this initiative. The
discovery of the species allows us to highlight the importance of the
Polylepis forest ecosystems because of its high concentration of
biodiversity and because of its function as water sources for many of the
communities living in the area,” said Luis Espinel, Executive Director of
Conservation International in Peru.
More than 130 families from four local communities – Aquia, Huasta,
Challhuayaco and Pujun – live in the surrounding area of the Polylepis
forests and depend on the forest for firewood and other resources.
These communities are supporting the conservation and restoration of the
Polylepis forests using conservation
agreements, a tool promoted by Conservation International in partnership
with the Instituto Montaña, ECOAN and the sponsorship of the Asociación Ancash
and the Compañía Minera Antamina S.A.
In order to achieve long-term conservation of these areas, it is crucial to
declare them Private Conservation Areas and to maintain long-term financial
support for the conservation agreements that will protect these amazing
ecosystems and, at the same, provide economic alternatives to the local
# # #
Photos available at the following link: http://bitly.com/15R3yY
Please note these images are for one-time use only with this story. Please
use the copyright/credit information provided for each image.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in
science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s
richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human
societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more
than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives
without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit