Mar 21

Photographs on the Arkive website  have helped two naturalists who had never met and work around 200 miles (310 kms) apart to identify two previously unrecorded species of one of Earth’s oldest flowering plants: the magnolia.

In 2010, Roberto Pedraza Ruiz gave Arkive a series of animal and plant photos he had taken in a life-rich cloud forest within eastern Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. One of the photos he donated was identified as being the magnolia, Magnolia dealbata, classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

But the image raised questions for Dr José Antonio Vázquez, a botanist at the University of Guadalajara, when he came across it during a search of Arkive’s 16,000 free-to-view online flora and fauna fact-files.

Magnolia rzedowskiana flower

It was this image that first raised questions. It is now identified as a Magnolia rzedowskiana flower.

As Roberto explains: “For Dr Vázquez, the specimen in the photo seemed unusual and he requested that I sent him more pictures. So I made several more trips to the cloud forest, documenting the flowers and fruits of the trees until finally receiving confirmation that I had photographed not only one but two completely new species of magnolias.”

Two new species of magnolia discovered

The first of the finds, originally identified on Arkive, has already been documented and has been given the name Magnolia rzedowskiana, after Dr Jerzy Rzedoswski, Mexico’s most eminent botanist who has collected and documented over 50,000 species and celebrating his 90th birthday this year.  A description of the second specimen is about to published and will be named Magnolia pedrazae, after Roberto.

He says: “This is without doubt the highest honour that a conservationist and nature photographer can receive. It means that this incredibly special tree – an endemic of the Sierra Gorda and product of an evolutionary process that spans millennia – has become part of the family.”

Magnolia rzedowskiana

Magnolia rzedowskiana

Lucie Muir, Director of Wildscreen, added: “We were absolutely thrilled when Roberto told us that a new species of magnolia had been identified because of botanist looking through the images on the Arkive website. It’s amazing that new species are still being discovered and that on this occasion Arkive was part of the discovery story.”

Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda

The use of the Pedraza name is especially apt as it was Roberto’s parents who started the grassroots movement which led to the creation of the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) to look after a section of the eastern Sierra Madre where the high peaks, rain shadow, remoteness and latitude mean biodiversity is especially rich.

Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

Roberto Pedraza Ruiz

Roberto grew up in the region and soon turned to photography as a way of documenting and sharing the area’s biological wealth and GESG’s work to protect it.  It was during one of his GESG expeditions in 1996 that Roberto found loggers at work in the cloud forest where the new species of magnolia grow.   After he raised the alarm, 40 friends clubbed together to buy the land and halt the operation – so saving a habitat where ancient oaks and cypress reach heights of 130 feet (40 metres), their limbs draped in dense mats of moss, ferns, orchids and bromeliads; and a place where he has photographed many rare or previously unrecorded life-forms, including jaguars, pumas and margays and a new family of molluscs.

Roberto says: “These discoveries highlight the importance of protecting sites with high biological value, giving ecosystems and species refuges from human activity, spaces where they are protected from humans’ ever-increasing demands for land and ecosystem services. If steps had not been taken to protect them, these species and others may have disappeared before we even learned of their existence.”

More information

Roberto has been donating his images to Arkive since 2010. View all of his images here and view the new species profile for Magnolia rzedowskiana here.

Find out more about the work of  Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda here.

Jan 21

Can you think of a species that you think is often overlooked and underappreciated? We asked this question to conservation organisations around the world for our Valentine’s Day #LoveSpecies campaign and have collated a list of almost 100 species. These species will be entered into a poll and you can vote for your favourite from  February 1st.

These species may not be the cutest…

…cuddliest…

…most charismatic…

…handsome…

Proboscis monkey

… or well-known…

Sunset frog

…but they deserve our love too!

Starting February 1st, each species will be featured on our blog, with a plea from the conservation organisation that nominated it for why it should get your vote. Voting will also open on February 1st and you’ll be able to choose your favourite until February 14th so you’ve got plenty of time to read the blogs and decide which species deserves its moment in the limelight.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

Oct 9

Wildscreen is one of three organisations to be honoured with a World Tourism Award during a ceremony on November 2, 2015 at the World Travel Market, ExCel Centre, London.

Tusk Trust and the TreadRight Foundation will also receive this prestigious award, with all of the organisations being recognised for their commitment to conservation, sustainable tourism development, creating unique initiatives to bring the travel experience to people with special needs as well as assisting local communities in overcoming challenging times.

Wildscreen has won this award: in recognition of its mission to encourage everyone to experience the natural world and help to protect it.  Wildscreen convenes the world’s best photographers and filmmakers with conservationists, creating the most compelling stories about the natural world.”

The Award itself, Inspire, was specially designed and handcrafted on the Mediterranean Island of Malta by Mdina Glass, and celebrates the qualities of leadership and vision that inspire others to reach new heights.  The Award will be accepted by Wildscreen patron, zoologist and broadcaster, Dr. George McGavin and the ceremony will be attended by the Wildscreen team and VIP guests.

Wildscreen team with patron Dr George McGavin

Wildscreen team with patron Dr George McGavin

A big thank you from the Wildscreen team!

Jan 28
The newly discovered Brookesia micra chameleon is the smallest lizard to ever be described, with the juvenile being small enough to perch on the tip of a matchstick!
This is just one example of a species featured in ARKive’s newly-discovered topic page. Explore the page to find out about other recently described species, how these species were found and why discovering new species is so important.
Brookesia micra photo

Juvenile Brookesia micra perched on a matchstick

A newly discovered species may be a species that is completely new to science, or one which has previously been described but is found to be made up of two or more separate species. With estimates that there could be between 3 million and 100 million organisms existing on Earth, and only around 1.7 million having been classified, the vast majority of life on Earth has not yet been uncovered.

Wattled smoky honeyeater photo

The wattled smoky honeyeater, discovered in 2005, was the first bird to be discovered in New Guinea since 1939

Discovering new species is very important, especially as many undiscovered species could become extinct before they are even identified. Describing and naming species is the first step towards protecting a species, as conservation strategies can then be put in to place.

The recently discovered kipunji is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Many of the recently discovered species featured on ARKive have some very unusual names; the psychedelic frogfish, the David Bowie spider, the Louisiana pancake batfish and Mr Burns beaked toad. Check out the profiles of these unusually named species to find out more about them and the reasons behind their quirky names.

The strangely patterned psychedelic frogfish

Why not take a look at our newly-discovered species page today and discover some new species for yourself!

Jemma Pealing, ARKive Media Researcher
Jul 30

More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Here is a summary of our latest update:

The stats

• 245 new species
• 1589 new images
• 89 new media donors
• 55 new texts
• 74 species ‘top facts’

What’s new – our favourite new species

White-nosed coati photo

We’ve added a new profile for the white-nosed coati

 

Geranium maderense

We’ve added a profile for the Critically Endangered Geranium maderense

 

Barred owl photo

We’ve also added a new profile for the barred owl

 

Strawberry frog

We have a new profile for the charismatic strawberry frog

 What’s new – our favourite new top facts

Blue whale photo

We’ve added interesting top facts for the blue whale

 

Tiger photo

We’ve added 5 great facts for the tiger

 

Ostrich photo

We’ve also added amazing top facts for the ostrich

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add to ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details

Subscribe to our RSS feeds for full details of what’s new to ARKive.

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