The Centinela mountain range in western Ecuador has a sad reputation among biologists: In the 1980s, rapid and extensive deforestation in the area led scientists to worry that many unique plant species had been wiped out as a result. American biodiversity expert Edward O. Wilson even coined the term “Centinelic Extinction” for the phenomenon of species disappearing when their small habitat is destroyed. But even if the losses were enormous: smaller forested islands have been preserved and some plants have provided last refuges. This is evidenced by the rediscovery of a species already extinct in its name. However Gasrantos is extinct Already survived As a team led by Dawson White of Chicago’s Field Museum writes in “PhytoKeys”.
»extinction It got its distinctive name due to widespread deforestation in western Ecuador,” says White. In fact, the country’s coastal region and the adjacent Andes foothills lost up to 97 percent of its original forest cover. However, smaller and larger patches of Natural vegetation cover, especially in inaccessible places, but it fell short of scientific vision. G. extinct They were collected shortly before deforestation, but were only described in 2000. In light of the massive loss of forests, those involved assumed they no longer existed and referred to them as “extinct” in the species’ name.
But no one actually researched the species locally; The first expeditions of 2009 can no longer provide clues. However, White and his colleague Nigel Bateman were not discouraged and went on another expedition in 2021 – although their attempt to find suitable biotopes with the help of satellite imagery failed: the mountain range was obscured by clouds in many places in the images. “For the first time I was planning an expedition where we weren’t sure if we’d ever get into a forest,” says Pittman.
But already on the first day at the site they found the remains of intact cloud forests. Within hours, they tracked down live specimens of the species believed to be lost. We didn’t have a picture to compare, only pictures of dried herb samples, a line graph, and a written description. However, we were pretty sure we found the plant because of its tiny hairs and showy flowers,” says Pittman.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”