New Peruvian bird species discovery by its song


This 24 October 2017 video is about the newly discovered bird species Machaeropterus eckelberryi.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

New Peruvian bird species discovered by its song

October 23, 2017

A new species of bird from the heart of Peru remained undetected for years until researchers identified it by its unique song.

In 1996, a group of Louisiana State University and Florida Museum of Natural History researchers traveled to the Cordillera Azul, an isolated mountain ridge in Peru, where they discovered a previously unknown manakin species.

With its bright yellow front feathers, the bird was different from the local subspecies of striped manakin, but nearly identical to the subspecies Machaeropterus regulus aureopectus found in the distant Venezuelan tepuis. But it has a completely different voice.

The newly discovered manakin‘s song lacks undertones and has a one-noted rising vocalization, rather than two-noted falling vocalization with undertones or a falling monosyllabic vocalization with undertones.

It was given the name Machaeropterus eckelberryi, commemorating the 20th century bird illustrator Don Eckelberry.

Andy Kratter, a museum ornithology collection manager, said the differences went unnoticed for years because the research team didn’t have vocalizations for all of the bird species.

“We kind of sat on it for a long time because we didn’t have vocalizations of the birds in Venezuela, and this bird is different from the local birds but close enough to the Venezuelan birds that it might have been considered the same species,” he said. “In manakins, it’s often subtle clues that might be different among species.”

The discovery of the new species and details of the expedition were recently published in Zootaxa.

Kratter said finding the new species and the isolated mountain ridge were important for the scientific community, in part because the discovery spurred Peru to preserve the area.

“The Peruvian government established a national park in the area in the early 2000s, mainly as a result of finding this novel diversity in this area, which our expedition did,” he said. “Finding these guys opened up a little more inventory and exploration, which led to the formation of this gigantic national park.”

Dan Lane, leader of the expedition and a research associate at LSU, was the first to record the new species, and he said it is one more bird for the ornithological community to include in their studies.

“Even if we weren’t discovering new species, just exploring regions of the world that are still poorly known and getting a better picture of where species are distributed, what habitats they use and how we may use this knowledge to preserve them is a worthwhile activity,” he said. “Peru still has many treasures hidden in unexplored nooks and crannies, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the opportunity to uncover them. To this day, it may be some of the most virgin terrain I’ve ever visited.”

A grant from the National Geographic Society’s Fund for Research and Exploration funded the research in 1996.

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Slate-throated redstart nestlings in Peru fledge, video


This video says about itself:

19 September 2017

Both Slate-throated Redstart nestlings fledged this past weekend on the morning of Saturday, September 16th! Watch highlights of the young fledglings’ last minutes in the nest, including the chicks’ final feedings, the nestlings’ rocket launch style approach at fledging, and the adult’s realization that both the chicks had left the nest.

The fledglings will now head out into the cloud forest of Peru on their own, and their parents will continue to provide food for a few weeks before they become independent. Thanks to our friends and partners at Inkaterra​ for helping to provide this experience!

Slate-throated redstart nest in Peru, videos


This video says about itself:

Quick Meal And Brooding For Slate-throated Redstart Nestlings –Sept. 11, 2017

Watch the cam live, 24/7, at http://allaboutbirds.org/redstarts

The Slate-throated Redstart cam is situated on the expansive grounds of the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Machupicchu Pueblo, Peru, situated a few thousand feet below the ruins of Machu Picchu.

The small roofed nest is a little under a meter off the ground in a thicket of common ivy that covers a stone wall on the property. In studies of Slate-throated Redstarts in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, it took an average of 14 days of incubation before eggs hatched, followed by an average of 11 days until fledging. As this nest hatched on the morning of September 4, we would expect the young to fledge sometime around September 15.

The biggest challenge to seeing these birds fledge isn’t even the technical aspect of the cam: it’s the high chance of the nest being predated or failing prior to fledging. Across the tropics, the rate of nest failure in open cup nesting birds can be 80% or higher! This figure holds for Slate-throated Redstart species that have been studied in other locales, and we can’t know whether this particular nest will survive; however, most birds in the tropics cope with this reality by nesting multiple times within the breeding season, and laying fewer eggs per attempt — literally, not putting all of their eggs in one basket!

This video from the nest in Peru says about itself:

Slate-throated Redstarts Feed Nestlings On A Rainy Day, 9/8/2017

This video from the nest in Peru says about itself:

Slate-throated Redstart Pair Feeds Nestlings, 9/8/2017

New tree species discovery in Peru


Incadendron esseri, photo K. Wurdack and W. Farfan-Rios

From Wake Forest University in the USA:

Hidden Inca treasure: Remarkable new tree genus discovered in the Andes

September 7, 2017

Hidden in plain sight — that’s how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes.

Researchers from the Smithsonian and Wake Forest University detailed their findings in a study just released in the journal PhytoKeys.

Named Incadendron esseri (literally “Esser’s tree of the Inca”), the tree is a new genus and species commonly found along an ancient Inca path in Peru, the Trocha Unión. Its association with the land of the Inca empire inspired its scientific name.

So how could a canopy tree stretching up to 100 feet tall and spanning nearly two feet in diameter go undetected until now?

“Incadendron tells us a lot about how little we understand life on our planet. Here is a tree that ranges from southern Peru to Ecuador, that is abundant on the landscape, and yet it was unknown. Finding this tree isn’t like finding another species of oak or another species of hickory — it’s like finding oak or hickory in the first place,” said Miles Silman, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology at Wake Forest.

“This tree perplexed researchers for several years before being named as new. It just goes to show that so much biodiversity is unknown and that obvious new species are awaiting discovery everywhere — in remote ecological plots, as well as in our own backyards,” said Kenneth Wurdack, a botanist with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The tree belongs to the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae — best known for rubber trees, cassava, and poinsettias — and like many of its relatives, when damaged also bleeds white sap, known as latex, that serves to protect it from insects and diseases.

Its ecological success in a difficult environment suggests more study is needed to find the hidden secrets that are often inherent in newly discovered and poorly known biodiversity.

Currently the Incadendron is common in several research plots under intensive study as part of the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group, an international Andes-to-Amazon ecology program co-founded by Silman.

For nearly 25 years, Silman has worked to gain greater understanding of Andean species distributions, biodiversity, and the response of forest ecosystems to climate and land use changes over time.

“While Incadendron has a broad range along the Andes, it is susceptible to climate change because it lives in a narrow band of temperatures. As temperatures rise, the tree populations have to move up to cooler temperatures,” said Silman.

One of the study’s co-authors, William Farfan-Rios, is a Wake Forest graduate student researching tropical forest dynamics and responses to changing environments along the Andes-to-Amazon elevational gradient. Discovering the Incadendron hits particularly close to home for the Cusco, Peru-native. Not only is the new genus vulnerable to climate change, but it is also threatened by deforestation in nearby areas.

“It highlights the imperative role of parks and protected areas where it grows, such as Manu National Park and the Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park,” he said. “Hopefully our ongoing study of the Incadendron and the intensive long-term forest monitoring will contribute to best practices in reforestation and forest management.”

Rare Amazon jungle dog video


This video says about itself:

See an Extremely Rare Jungle Dog | National Geographic

4 August 2017

One of the Amazon rain forest‘s most elusive inhabitants, the short-eared dog, has been caught on video in southeastern Peru.

About the size of a fox, these jungle canines are incredibly difficult to spot. In fact, a journey to the Amazon is far more likely to yield a jaguar sighting than a glimpse of a wild short-eared dog. In late May 2014, conservation biologist Lary Reeves set up a camera trap near a white-lipped peccary carcass. Wanting to record what he’d heard was a “king vulture fiesta” at the carcass, Reeves braved the rampaging insects and rancid stench to set the camera a few feet from the carcass.

Read more here.

Three small frog species discovered in Peru


This video says about itself:

7 March 2017

In the Pui Pui Protected Forest, Peruvian Andes, researchers discovered a new species of terrestrial-breeding frog. The species was named Pristimantis attenboroughi, Attenborough’s Rubber Frog, in honour of Sir David Attenborough.

And now, more relatives of this frog have been discovered in that area.

From the University of Michigan in the USA:

Three species of tiny frogs discovered in Peruvian Andes

July 27, 2017

A University of Michigan ecologist and his colleagues have discovered three more frog species in the Peruvian Andes, raising to five the total number of new frog species the group has found in a remote protected forest since 2012.

The three newly found species live in the mountain forests and Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru. They are described in a study to be published online July 27 in the journal Zootaxa. All three species measure an inch or less in length, from snout to vent.

“Our team has now described five new species of frogs from this region, with several more to come in the near future,” said Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral researcher in the Rabosky Lab at the U-M Museum of Zoology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Other team members are in Illinois, the Czech Republic and Peru.

“These discoveries demonstrate the need for further scientific exploration of such Andean habitats,” he said. “While the Pui Pui Protected Forest was established in 1985, virtually no biological surveys were conducted in the park for nearly three decades, and the potential for additional discoveries is enormous.”

The three new frog species belong to the genus Pristimantis, the most diverse genus of frogs in the tropical Andes. With nearly 500 species, they are part of the family Craugastoridae, commonly known as land-breeding or terrestrial-breeding frogs.

While most frogs lay eggs in water, terrestrial-breeding frogs use a specialized reproductive mode called direct development: A clutch of embryos hatches directly into froglets; there are no free-living tadpoles. This allows the group to exploit a wide variety of habitats, as long as those locations contain sufficient moisture.

Terrestrial-breeding frogs appear to have undergone an evolutionary radiation at high elevations in Peru, as many species resemble one another and have similar life histories. A so-called adaptive radiation occurs when a single ancestral group produces many descendant species adapted to different habitats and ways of life.

The Zootaxa paper names and describes the three newly discovered frog species and presents supporting morphological and phylogenetic evidence. The first author of the paper is Edgar Lehr of Illinois Wesleyan University.

The frog species bear the name of the Pui Pui park, the mountain-forest habitat in the park, and a naturalist-explorer. They are:

The Pui Pui Rubber Frog, Pristimantis puipui, known from a single site near Laguna Sinchón, which marks the approximate center of the Pui Pui Protected Forest, at an elevation of 12,762 feet above sea level. The species name is derived from the Quechua words “pui pui” meaning “eyes of water,” a reference to the many lakes of the Pui Pui Protected Forest.

The Hill Dweller Rubber Frog, Pristimantis bounides, known from two sites at elevations of 10,991 feet and 11,362 feet. The species name “bounides” is derived from the Greek noun “bounos,” which means “dweller of the hills” and refers to the habitat of the mountain forests where this frog was found.

The Humboldt’s Rubber Frog, Pristimantis humboldti, known from a single site at 10,886 feet. The species name is the patronym of the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, who traveled the New World between 1799 and 1804 and whose ideas changed our understanding of the world.

Earlier this year, the researchers described two other new species of Peruvian frogs, Pristimantis ashaninka and Pristimantis attenboroughi. The first was named after the Ashaninka, a group of indigenous people from the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, some of whom live near Pui Pui. The second species was named after BBC naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough.

Future papers by the group will describe five more newly discovered species from Pui Pui: three frogs and two lizards.

The Pui Pui Protected Forest covers 150,000 acres and includes dozens of lakes and streams that feed several rivers in the upper Amazon River watershed. About 70 percent of the protected forest is covered by Andean grasslands, and about 30 percent is cloud forest.

“Our findings suggest that the Pui Pui Protected Forest houses unique biological communities containing species found nowhere else,” Lehr said. “One reason for this is that the area has a steep topographic gradient including a broad array of habitats and local microclimates that contribute to high amphibian species diversity.”

Von May and Lehr first discussed the possibility of exploring the Pui Pui in 2003. In early 2012, Lehr received funding from the National Geographic Society to survey the area, and they carried out the first expeditions that year.

Two other herpetologists joined subsequent trips: Jiri Moravec of the National History Museum in Prague, Czech Republic and Juan Carlos Cusi of the Museum of Natural History of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.

Altogether, the team spent nearly three months in the field between 2012 and 2014, in a region where mountains taller than 13,000 feet are common.

“Our team worked with local guides and park rangers,” von May said. “The equipment, food and camping supplies used in the expeditions were carried by horses and mules.”

Most of the frogs were discovered by searching through moss and grass and under rocks, small bushes and other vegetation. In some cases, the researchers found frogs after hearing the males calling during light afternoon or evening rains.

Given that the newly discovered frog species live in the Pui Pui Protected Forest, much of their habitat is formally protected. However, amphibians worldwide face multiple threats — including habitat loss, the deadly chytrid skin fungus and climate change — and Andean amphibians are no exception.

In the Peruvian Andes, habitat loss is currently the main threat. Of special concern are forest clearcuttings and humanmade fires used to expand agricultural crops and grazing areas for livestock.

Worldwide, the number of known amphibian species continues to rise due to new discoveries and now stands at nearly 7,700.