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Peru's Manu National Park sets new biodiversity record

ffer zone, augmented by other, more limited surveys published previously, allowed the team to compile a list of 155 amphibian and 132 reptile species, including a handful of species new to science. Taxonomist and coauthor Edgar Lehr, assistant professor of biology at Illinois Wesleyan University, collaborates frequently with von May and Catenazzi on frog taxonomy and studies of amphibian declines and conservation.

Record-breaking biodiversity

The researchers listed the 287 species of reptiles and amphibians in the most recent issue of the journal Biota Neotropica. The previous record for the most diverse protected area for reptiles and amphibians was in Yasun National Park in Ecuador, which hosts 150 amphibian and 121 reptile species, according to a 2010 study.

"There is no place like Manu where we can preserve such an exceptionally large amount of biodiversity, as well as the evolutionary processes that contribute to maintain and promote biodiversity", said Catenazzi, a former postdoctoral researcher in UC Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology. "It is our responsibility to make sure this biological legacy is passed on to the next generations."

To assemble the list, the team surveyed multiple elevations and examined hundreds of museum specimens collected at dozens of locations in Manu National Park and its buffer zone. Analysis of DNA sequences and frog calls allowed the team to identify additional species.

World Heritage Site

While the high species diversity can be partially attributed to the large area and steep topographic variation within Manu National Park, the finding is noteworthy, von May said. He and his colleagues estimate that the park represents only 0.01 percent of the planet's land area, but houses 2.2 percent of all amphibians and 1.5 percent of all reptiles known worldwide.

Since its creation 41 years ago, Manu National Park has become recognized as globally i

Contact: Robert Sanders
University of California - Berkeley

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Peru's Manu National Park sets new biodiversity record
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