At 2nd Expedition Site, Number of Species New to Bolivia’s Madidi Park Expands to 60
By Rob Wallace
[Note: this is the second in a series of reports from WCS on the Identidad Madidi expedition currently taking place in Bolivia's Madidi National Park]
We are in the midst of an altitudinal transect of Bolivia’s Madidi National Park: visiting 14 habitats over two years. Deciding where and when to focus our attention was a challenge during the expedition planning phase.
The dry montane forests of the upper Tuichi river valley provided the setting for our second Identidad Madidi study site in July, allowing us to experience glorious changes in color. Most of the trees in these forests lose their leaves in June and July – the beginning of the dry season (late fall in the southern hemisphere) and an abundance of typical drier forest plant taxa abounds.
One of the aims of Identidad Madidi is to significantly increase knowledge on vertebrate diversity and distribution in this globally outstanding protected area. The vertebrate experts are focused on adding to the official list of vertebrates for the park. Because of the unique size of this isolated patch of dry forest, they also look for possible endemic species, those that are confined to this ecosystem and live nowhere else, that have evolved in response to these unique conditions.
From a protected area management perspective, simply increasing the number of places where each species is known to live– especially those considered threatened or those for which very few data exist – is valuable to inform decision-making. That same locality data can also contribute to overall knowledge about a species, for example, by establishing new altitude limits or adding new habitat types to its range.