The Luzon Island from the Philippines managed to break the record of biodiversity with the largest concentration of mammal species in the world.
A research team which included the Florida State University had explored the island for 15 years. The exploration concluded with a study published in the Frontiers of Biogeography journal, stating that there are 52 unique species of terrestrial mammals on the island, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The merit of the exploration team lies in the discovery of 28 of the unique species from the Luzon Island. The project started in late 2000 at the initiative of a Negaunee Curator of Mammals from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.
The purpose was to catalog all the species on the 40,000 square miles island. Luzon had never been connected to a continent and therefore had evolved completely different from any other location.
Luzon Island is located in the north of the Philippines. The climate is tropical, with high mountains and volcanoes created at the merge of the continental plates. The top of the mountains have formed a distinct habitat from that on the base level.
The team of scientists discovered four species of tree-mice that have very long whiskers, another five species of mice that feed on earthworms and have a look resembling shrews. They all live in the high altitudes, in a region struck by typhoons.
Luzon also has 57 species of bats, living in the humid lowlands, including the golden-crowned flying fox and the flat-headed bat, touching the extremes of the species.
The method was to set more than 100 traps in various areas of the island. Tissue samples were sent to Chicago museum, where they underwent DNA testing confirming the fact that they belong to an entirely different and unique species.
The most important fact is that a large number of new mammals. The researchers expected to discover new species. However, the limited surface of the island was discouraging in terms of diversity. The exploration proved them wrong.
For example, Cuba has only 15 non-flying mammals, all of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Florida has 39 terrestrial mammals, but only one species is unique in the state. Both Cuba and the state of Florida have approximately the same surface as Luzon Island, where the scientists discovered 52 unique species.
The exploration efforts will end with conservative measures that need to be taken to preserve the diversity of the island and to protect it from the massive deforestation practices from the Philippines.
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