new species in Spain
Articles in ‘new species in Spain’
March 24th, 2008
Our understanding of the reptile world is in a constant state of flux as advances in DNA techniques continue. The latest is the promotion of a species of skink on La Gomera to full species. The joint study by researchers from France, UK and Spain is published in the latest issue of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. They have baptised the new reptile Chalcides coeruleopunctatus, Lisa de Salvador in Spanish (Salvador’s or the Gomeran Skink in English), in honour of Alfredo Salvador, researcher at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales de Madrid, who described it for the first time in 1975 El Mundo.
August 4th, 2007
The attempts to save the Montseny brook newt (Calotriton arnoldi) from extinction have been bolstered by the successful breeding in captivity of the species. At most 1500 of these newts survive in a few fast flowing streams in Montseny in an area of 40km2, making them particularly vulnerable to fire and drought. So far just 7 larva have hatched in the breeding programme of the Centre de Recuperació de Fauna del Departament de Medi Ambient (El Periodico)
Photo of a Montseny brook newt, right, larva
Of all the amphibians in Europe , the Montseny brook newt has the most limited area of distribution and it is also one of the most endangered species on the continent. More on the Montseny brook newt
February 21st, 2007
26/11/2006 150 new species are discovered every year in Spain
An interview with Mario GarcÃa ParÃs of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in todayâ€™s (El Pais) . I paraphrase.
â€œThere 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. Weâ€™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. â€œPertinaciousâ€ 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 canâ€™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. Itâ€™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
February 21st, 2007
The largest colony of the endangered Bechstein’s Bat (Myotis bechsteini – murciÃ©lago ratonero forestal) in the Iberian Peninsula has been discovered in the Alta Garrotxa in Catalonia by Xavier Puig of the wildlife research group Galanthus, as part of a bat census together with the Museum of Granollers. The colony is formed by 24 individuals and is the first non-fossil citing for Catalonia. These bats, probably the rarest species in Europe, live in mature forests with old trees with plenty of nooks and crannies for shelter. They will also nest in cracks in rocks and even old buildings. They have a penchant for taking non-flying invertebrates (spiders, centipedes, caterpillars, etc) on the ground, or vegetation, swooping upon them with their slow, low-flying ponderous but agile flight, though they’ll also snap up insects from the air. Fossil evidence suggests that 5000 years ago Bechstein’s bat was one of the commonest species in Europe, thriving in the continent’s old mature woods, but the historic destruction of forests has led them to their current plight. Photo of Bechstein’s bat by Xavier Puig. See also Bats in Spain