New species in Spain

26/11/2006 150 new species are discovered every year in Spain

An interview with Mario García París of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in today’s (El Pais) . I paraphrase.
“There are some 60,000 species of animals in Spain, of which some 40,000 are insects. And we are incapable of knowing how many are catalogued. A species is a group of animals which are genetically compatible. There are worms which look the same but are different species and frogs which are as similar as an egg to chestnut tree, but which can breed.
It is impossible to know how many species are still to be recorded. One knows when most of the biological wealth of a country has been recorded when the rate of discovery slows down. This does not seem to be likely in the short term in Spain. We’ve been discovering some 150 new species a year since the late 1970s. And this rate has continued unabated. Since 1978, 3,627 new species have been discovered in the Peninsula, with a further 1,417 in the Canaries at an almost constant rate of 150 a year. “In the distribution maps of species there are dark areas around Madrid, Barcelona and Las Hurdes, in Extremadura. The county of Las Hurdes appears because several people from the museum spend their holidays there”.
There are even big gaps in knowledge with groups such as amphibians despite the legions of amateur naturalists out and about recording them. “A year ago we discovered a new midwife toad which only lives in the fountains of villages. We called it Alytes obstetricans pertynas. “Pertinacious” because while most amphibians are becoming extinct, this one is resisting in human settlements”.
Spain because of its geographical position and the variety of its climate is particularly rich in biodiversity, but much of this being lost. “In the county you can’t hear anything anymore. Ten years ago you heard and saw lots of insects. Now they are spraying everything and all is quiet. When I look at my field notes from 15 years ago describing swarms of bugs I think I must have been exaggerating, but the truth is I was only describing what I saw. When we visit Morocco today we see animals everywhere, just as it was here years ago. If a Goya is burnt. It’s a national tragedy, because it cannot be replaced. The same is true for a species but nobody seems to care”. See also Montseny Brook Newt

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