Since this is the first time the dwarf cloud rat has been seen in its natural habitat, the data collected from this specimen "will significantly augment our understanding of how these rodents evolved, what makes them tick, and how we can keep them around," said William Stanley, Collections Manager of Mammals at The Field Museum. "Also, finding this animal again gives us hope for the conservation of one of the most diverse and threatened mammal faunas of the world."
The research team thinks that this species probably lives only high in the big canopy trees in mature mossy forest, at elevations from about 2,200 to 2,700 meters, high in the mountains of the Central Cordillera. "Now that we know where to look for them, it will be possible to learn more," Heaney said.
Much of the mossy forest in Mt. Pulag National Park where the biologists found the dwarf cloud rat was logged during the 1960s, and few large trees remain. The mossy forest has been gradually regenerating, but many local people now have vegetable farms there, and some of the mossy forest has disappeared as a result, according to Park Superintendent Emerita Albas. "Other parts of the park have extensive areas of mossy forest," she said. "But where there are roads into the park, the vegetable farms are expanding. The people deserve to have a place to live and to have their farms, but the mossy forest needs to be protected."
The mossy forest is like a giant sponge when it rains, soaking up the water and releasing it gradually. This produces clean water for irrigation, household use, hydroelectric dams, and industry in the lowlands. The mossy forest gets up to 5 or 6 meters of rain per year, or more.
Most of the species that the team documented on Mt. Pulag live only in the Central Cordillera, and most live only in mossy forests. Other unusual species documented by this research team during this survey are the bushy-tailed cloud r
|Contact: Greg Borzo|