New Species in the Andes
Scientists affiliated with Conservation International have just announced the discovery of several newly discovered species in the White Mountain Range of Peru.
See the species -- a mouse, two beetles and a plant -- on subsequent slides.
The newly discovered mouse, a small rodent from the genus Akodon, lives between 9,450 feet and 15,525 feet above sea level, high in the Andes. It is found only in the Ancash region of Peru, and scientists say it plays an important ecological role by eating insects and dispersing seeds.
Eriopis canrash Beetle
One of two beetles discovered in the Andes of Peru, the Eriopis canrash beetle eats aphids that attack local crops, making it an important natural asset to farmers.
A new high altitude wetlands plant, Senecio sanmarcosensis, blooms between May and July, and was found only in isolated areas above 14,764 feet. Because the plant is found in so few locations, it may be a candidate -- after only having just been discovered -- of being listed as "near threatened" under the IUCN's Red List criteria.
Cycloneda andresii Beetle
The Cycloneda andresii beetle is also an aphid-eater, making it valuable to local agriculture.
Forests Are Important for People, too
According to Conservation International, the Polylepis forests, where these species live, are among the highest found anywhere in the world. The newly described creatures live among mountain lions, Southern viscacha, Andean cats and North Andean deer. Logging, shepherding, forest fires and mining are all threats, and Conservation International is advocating for the forests' designation as Private Conservation Areas.
Like all forests, these supply the region with oxygen and clean water, and help prevent soil erosion. For the 130 families that live in the Polylepis there, the forests are also the primary source of firewood, medicine and food.