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Spiders, frogs and gecko among exciting discoveries found in Papua New Guinea
Date:3/25/2009

Arlington, Virginia Jumping spiders, a tiny chirping frog and an elegant striped gecko are among 56 species believed new to science discovered during a Conservation International (CI) Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition to Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness.

The discoveries were announced today following analysis of the species that were found in July and August of 2008 during a month-long exploration of Papua New Guinea's central mountains. CI scientists were joined by scientists from Papua New Guinea and the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Montclair State University to explore the region alongside members of local communities.

More than 600 species were documented during the expedition. Of those, a total of 50 spider species, two plants, three frogs and one gecko are believed to be new to science. The three frogs include a tiny brown frog with a sharp chirping call (Oreophryne sp.), a bright green tree frog with enormous eyes (Nyctimystes sp.), and a torrent-dwelling frog that has a loud ringing call (Litoria sp.). The gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp.) was the only specimen of its kind found in the dense rainforest.

"The vast Kaijende Uplands and nearby valleys represent one of Papua New Guinea's largest undeveloped highlands wilderness areas, and all of it is under the tenure of local clan landowners. These forests are essential to their traditional lifestyles," said CI scientist Steve Richards, who led the expedition.

Local clan communities rely on this wilderness area for hunting and collecting forest products, and the region is a critical source of clean drinking water to tens of thousands of valley people living in the Enga Southern Highlands, Sandaun and Western Provinces. Globally, this vast forested wilderness is critical in helping slow climate change by sequestering large amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

As part of the expedition, Montclair State
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Contact: Lisa Bowen
lbowen@conservation.org
703-341-2601
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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