Scientists exploring the remote highlands of eastern Suriname discovered 24 species believed to be new to science, including a frog with florescent purple markings and other amphibians, fish and insects.
Presented in a report made public today, the findings from a 2005 expedition led by Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) and a follow-up survey in 2006 demonstrate the value of exploring unknown regions such as Suriname’s rainforest to assess the need to conserve them.
The study sponsored by two mineral companies – BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton) and Suriname Aluminium Company LLC (Suralco, a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc.) – provides information for policymakers and other stakeholders in deciding how to balance development with protecting important biodiversity that benefits local communities and the global ecosystem.
“Suriname has some of the Amazon’s most pristine and intact rainforest, which offers huge potential for scientific research and economic investment in carbon sequestration, as well as the sustenance it has always provided local communities,” said Leeanne Alonso, a Conservation International (CI) vice president who heads the RAP program. “Our study will be a vital component in determining how to promote economic development in Suriname while protecting the nation’s most valuable natural assets.”
The RAP survey, from Oct. 25-Nov. 6 in 2005, included 13 scientists from CI and partner universities and organizations who traveled to the Lely and Nassau plateaus in eastern Suriname, 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Paramaribo, the capital. They found a virtually unexplored region of mountain savannah forest, high dryland rainforest and palm swamp with freshwater sources clean enough to support abundant fish and amphibian life.
Among the 24 species believed new to science are an Atelopus frog with brilliant purple markings, four Eleutherodactylus fr