17.04.2019 change 17.04.2019
Kamil Szubański
Kamil Szubański

Zoologists from the University of Lodz are searching for new species in the Philippine tropics

credit: Dr. Radomir Jaskuła, University of Lodz credit: Dr. Radomir Jaskuła, University of Lodz

Will the zoologists from Łódź discover new species of invertebrates in the Philippine tropics? A group of experts from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection of the University of Lodz is preparing for the first expedition to the Philippines. Their targets include insects, arachnids and molluscs.

This is the first such expedition of zoologists from Łódź to this part of the world. So far, they have explored the polar regions, the Saharan part of Africa, the Balkan Peninsula and the coral reef off the coast of Australia.

Expedition to the Philippines is the result of cooperation with employees of Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-ITT) from Iligan City on the island of Mindanao, says Prof. Andrzej Kruk, Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Lodz.

The Philippines is an archipelagic country consisting of over eight thousand islands. It is considered one of the world`s most diverse areas in terms of flora and fauna.

In the case of some taxonomic groups, the number of species living in the Philippines is greater than, for example, in Brazil, known for the richness of fauna and flora. Many species, for example many invertebrates, are found only in the tropical forests of the Philippines, and the degree of endemism often exceeds 85%.

"Rapidly progressing, negative changes in the natural environment of this area caused by human activity mean that many of the local species living may become extinct before they are discovered" - emphasizes the leader of the expedition, Dr. Radomir Jaskuła from the Department of Zoology of Invertebrates of the University of Lodz.

The expedition starts at the end of this year and will take three weeks. During that time, researchers from Łódź will explore the tropical forests of the second largest island of the Philippines - Mindanao.

The scientists want to focus primarily on two types of habitats - caves and surrounding forests, as well as waterfalls, for which the northern part of the island is famous. In their opinion, these two types of habitats guarantee a large diversity of invertebrates, and they have never been thoroughly explored.

"We want to focus primarily on the study of terrestrial invertebrates, including mainly insects, arachnids and snails, because these groups exhibit the greatest diversity of species in the tropics. We will also study freshwater insects. The first pilot studies conducted last year indicate a very large potential of these habitats" - says Dr. Jaskuła.

Researchers hope to discover new species and learn about their habitat requirements. They say this can be crucial for their subsequent protection. "The results of our research could translate into covering some areas of the island with strict protection" - adds the expedition leader.

Specialists from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection of the University of Lodz have been cooperating with a university in the Philippines for two years. They support MSU-IIT students and doctoral students who conduct research on selected groups of terrestrial invertebrates. The cooperation between the two universities is currently being formalized.

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