LA PAZ – A multi-year scientific expedition has revealed that Bolivia’s Madidi National Park is the most biodiverse natural area in the world and home to more than 100 species potentially new to science.
The impressive results of the “Identidad Madidi” expedition – comprised of about 20 scientists tasked with sweeping 15 of the park’s sites from 2015-2017 to identify and record as many species as possible – has surpassed all of the explorers’ expectations.
Their work confirmed the fact that Madidi is indeed the world’s most biodiverse park, with more than 8,000 species.
Although Madidi is only 1.8 million hectares (some 4.5 million acres) in size – which accounts for 0.0037 percent of Earth’s surface – it is home to as many as 3 percent of all plants and almost 4 percent of all vertebrates, as well as 9 percent of the planet’s birds, according to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) figures.
The scientists found at least 124 species considered to be potentially new to science, including 84 species of plants and five of butterflies, as well as 19 fish, eight amphibian, four reptile and four mammalian species.
“It’s truly extraordinary,” WCS’s Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape director Robert Wallace, told EFE. “The number of species we’ve recorded is incredible. We’ve found 10 times the amount of what we thought we would find. We thought (we would find) 10 species potentially new to science.”
The exploration is supported by the Bolivian Biodiversity Network, the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology, the Environment Ministry, the National Protected Areas Service, the Ecology Institute, the National Herbarium, the Bolivian Fauna Collection and the National Natural History Museum, as well as Bolivia’s Armonia Association.
The investigation was funded by the WCS and the Moore Foundation.