Fourteen new species of shrew discovered on an Indonesian island

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By Chen Ly

Crocidura caudipilosa

Crocidura caudipilosa, 1 of the recently discovered taxon of shrew

Kevin Rowe

Fourteen caller taxon of shrew person been discovered during a decade-long survey of tiny mammals connected the Indonesian land of Sulawesi.

Shrews are a divers radical of tiny mammals that tin beryllium recovered astir anyplace successful the world. Despite their planetary distribution, not a batch has been documented astir shrews that dwell successful the world’s mountainous, tropical regions.

To analyse these animals connected Sulawesi, Jake Esselstyn astatine Louisiana State University and his colleagues began mounting respective pitfall traps crossed the land successful 2010, including connected dozens of mountains astatine antithetic elevations.

Over 10 years, they trapped and examined 1368 idiosyncratic shrews dispersed evenly crossed the island. Analysis of their carnal features and DNA revealed that the squad had recovered 21 taxon of shrew, and they each unrecorded exclusively connected Sulawesi. Of the 21 species, 14 were antecedently unknown. These discoveries marque Sulawesi the big of 3 times much shrew taxon than immoderate different land successful the world. This whitethorn beryllium due to the fact that the land fosters singular biodiversity, oregon it could beryllium that shrews connected different islands are poorly documented, helium says.

The researchers fishy that Sulawesi’s geography whitethorn beryllium a crushed for the diverseness successful the shrews. It is uniquely shaped: its 4 peninsulas signifier a K-like signifier and are besides rather mountainous, with six peaks reaching astatine slightest 3000 metres tall.

The peninsulas whitethorn beforehand isolation betwixt populations, and the precocious mountains make beardown climatic gradients that could pb to large differences successful the vegetation. It is imaginable that shrews diversified successful effect to the geography, though this thought is yet to beryllium tested, says Esselstyn.

There whitethorn beryllium adjacent much shrew taxon connected Sulawesi that haven’t been recovered yet. The animals successful this survey were collected astatine sites up to a tallness of 2700 metres, truthful it wouldn’t beryllium astonishing if determination were shrew taxon astatine adjacent higher altitudes, says Esselstyn.

“We anticipation that our findings tin promote much enactment and backing to survey biodiversity connected mountains,” says co-author Heru Handika, besides astatine Louisiana State University. “With the rapidly increasing system of Indonesia and the increasing population, deforestation connected mountains would summation successful the adjacent future. Many of those taxon would beryllium gone earlier we cognize they exist.”

“We truly request to person a bully appraisal of beingness connected the planet. We request to cognize however galore taxon determination are and wherever they live,” says Esselstyn. “If we don’t cognize these things, past we basal small accidental of having existent penetration into however that beingness evolved, however that beingness is maintained present and however to conserve it.”

Journal reference: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, DOI: 10.1206/0003-0090.454.1.1

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