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

University anthropologist Dr. William Thomas worked with the local Hewa clans to document the natural history and local knowledge of these resources as part of the "Forest Stewards" project, an initiative started by Dr. Thomas and CI's Dr. Bruce Beehler.

"Dr. Thomas has devoted his professional life to the study of the traditional knowledge system of the Hewa people," Beehler said. "Their intimate knowledge of and stewardship over a large tract of this vast upland wilderness has led to conservation of their wildlife and environment. Dr. Thomas's goal is to help the Hewa continue this indigenous stewardship into the next century, for the good of these people and the world at large."

The discovery of three entirely novel genera from among the spider species discovered is particularly noteworthy, said UBC scientist Wayne Maddison, Director of the new Beaty Biodiversity Museum. "They are strikingly distinctive evolutionary lineages that had been unknown before, with a group that is already very distinctive on the evolutionary tree of jumping spiders," said Maddison. "Their key position on the evolutionary tree will help us understand how this unique group of jumping spiders has evolved."

Much of Papua New Guinea's vast wilderness remains unexplored for scientific documentation. CI's RAP program is planning three more expeditions to the country in 2009 with the first beginning in early April.

The expedition was funded by Porgera Joint Venture (PJV), principally owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. The resulting report will provide information for decision makers trying to balance development with protecting biodiversity that benefits local communities and the global ecosystem. The findings will be used to inform future conservation activities, the PJV mining operation, and development decisions by the local and national government.

"This underlines how passionate we are about our environmental responsibilities and we are
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Contact: Lisa Bowen
lbowen@conservation.org
703-341-2601
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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