· BY NADIA DRAKE
· 6:30 AM
The Amazon rainforest, a well-known epicenter of biodiversity, has offered up another trove of riches. The treasure takes the form of 15 newly described bird species. Some are tiny. One has a long, curved bill. Another is super fluffy. All live in the southern Amazon, an area known as the “arc of deforestation.”
It’s been 140 years since as many new Brazilian bird species were described at one time. In 1871, 40 new species were described by Austrian August von Pelzeln in Zur Ornithologie Brasiliens.
Discovered mostly within the last five years, in southern swaths of forest, many of the birds live near rivers. Eleven can only be found in Brazil; four of the species have also been seen in Peru and Bolivia. Most are Passeriformes, belonging to an order that includes ravens, sparrows, and finches.
They were spotted on various expeditions led by ornithologist Luis Silveira, of the University of Sao Paolo, and his students, as well as collaborators from three additional institutions. Together, they noticed that these strange new birds didn’t quite fit in.
“Describing new species is not a trivial task,” Silveira said. Many sang different songs, or had different genetic sequences than previously known birds. “We considered a bird as a new species when at least two of the three criteria — plumage, voice, and genetics — were consistently different from some previously known and closely related, already described species.”
|Crooked beak woodcreeper|
Silveira and his colleagues describe the species in a special volume of the Handbook of Birds of the World, which will be published in early summer. Here, we have photos of seven new species; others have only been illustrated.
More information, plus a map, can be found in this story published on the website G1, and this PDF (in Portuguese).
Participating institutions also include Institute Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Louisiana State University, and Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.