Conservation & Research
First field guide for Amazonian amphibians of Manu

Launching the first bilingual field guide for amphibians of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots.

 

This is a free, downloadable, digital field guide that’s in English and Spanish, designed for use with tablets and smartphones.

 

 

It’s a tool launched by the Crees Foundation to encourage students, tour guides and other visitors to get excited and educated about the diversity of amphibians found in Manu, while discovering what they can tell us about ecosystem health and climate change. The lead researcher, Jaime Villacampa, said:

 

“When I started working in Manu, I learnt about amphibians the hard way – catching lots of them and very carefully studying them for hours, reading scientific papers full of jargon, and trying to guess the ID of each amphibian based on very few photos. All of this took a long time and so I wanted to share the knowledge we gained with everyone, in a free way. Science is about sharing.”

 

In many remote regions of the world there’s a lack of information about the flora and fauna that lives there, making it very difficult for scientists to plan conservation strategies to effectively protect habitats and wildlife into the future. This is why the Crees Foundation is passionate about funding scientific research, so that we can make evidence-based decisions on how to better conserve our corner of the Amazon.

The guide’s digital format means it can be continuously updated as new research data becomes available, making it particularly suited to less explored regions of the world where the rate of new species discovery is high.

 

Life stages of the poison dart frog, Ameerega shihuemoy, a species new to science discovered by the team | Image © Marcus Brent-Smith

 

The guide features over 100 amphibians found within Manu Biosphere Reserve, including a species new to science that was discovered by the research team and is currently being described by a young, Peruvian scientist Jennifer Serrano Rojas. She said:

 

“When I found out this species was new to science I was excited to understand as much as I could about it. The fact that it was found in regenerating forest means that these areas are important for conservation and they urgently need protection. Unfortunately, this area is facing threats such as logging, mining and road construction that’s causing habitat destruction and therefore the loss of species.”

 

 

Manu Biosphere Reserve is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth but it is also an extremely poor region with few incentives for environmentally sensitive, sustainable development.

 

National language field guides to an area’s wildlife can greatly increase local people’s awareness of their natural heritage. This could lead to better conservation efforts and appreciation of the country’s rich national biodiversity.

 

“Most resources on the amphibians and reptiles of Peru are in English”, said Jaime. “But Peruvians speak Spanish. That is not a very good combination. To have any chance of stopping the destruction that’s happening at lightning rate, there needs to be local apostles for conservation. That is not going to happen if people have to learn English first in order to read about the species of their homelands.”

 

 

Crees is working in Manu to conserve the rainforest, while empowering local people through sustainable livelihoods. This field guide will serve as an important tool for local people, organisations and policy makers. Producing much-needed publications, like this, forms part of our wider scientific research and sustainable development work to find local solutions for a sustainable Manu.

 

 

Thanks to our partners the University of Glasgow | Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative MedicineThe Darwin InitiativeAmphibian Survival AllianceSERNANP | Parque Nacional del Manu, Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri, Pankotsi Shipetiari, Comunidad Nativa Shipetiari, Manu Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco and Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marco.

 

Featured image © Marcus Brent-Smith

 

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