Friday, 30 September 2011

25 new species discovered in UAE's Wadi Wurayah

Wadi Wurayah teems with life with discovery of 55 new species
September 2011: Wadi Wurayah continues to be a stronghold for wildlife in the United Arab Emirates with the discovery of 55 new species, including a shiny golden bug called Sphenoptera vanharteni, and a long-legged elegant ant: Lepisiota elegantissima, in addition to a tiny gecko: Asaccus gallagheri.

Out of the 55 newly recorded species recently found, 25 are considered new to science species, further highlighting the importance of this protected area. These new species found in Wadi Wurayah are composed of two species of Arachnida (spiders, scorpions, ticks), one species of terrestrial Crustacean (crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles), one species of Entognatha (springtails), and 51 species of insects (bugs, flies, ants, butterflies, etc).

The findings are a result of continued research, collaboration and verification by Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), Fujairah Municipality and local authorities.

Tiny geckos feed on insects they catch in the darkChristophe Tourenq, senior conservation manager of EWS-WWF, said: ‘These discoveries highlight the importance of conserving the habitats of the UAE.

The protection of the many unique life forms that reside in our natural environment is interconnected with and interdependent on the protection of these habitats. The sustainability of our lifestyle is also dependent on the health of our natural environment and the resources it provides.'

He added: ‘It is vital that we all do our part towards the conservation of our natural heritage. EWS-WWF calls on all UAE residents to work together and act responsibly to help support the on-going protection of the countries habitats from degradation and loss.'

Another Wadi Wurayah species was discovered by two reptiles and amphibian specialists; researcher Theodore J. Papenfuss from University of Berkley, California, and his assistant, Todd Pierson. They spotted a tiny gecko on the gravel bed of the wadi: the Gallagher's leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus gallagheri). Males of this elegant minuscule gecko of less than 7cm show a beautifully coloured yellow tail and feed on the insects they chase in the dark, thanks to their night-vision. The Gallagher's leaf-toed gecko was first described in Masafi, UAE in 1972 and is only found in the UAE and northern Oman.

In October 2010, Wadi Wurayah officially joined the list of 1,932 wetlands around the world which are of international importance for biodiversity conservation under the Ramsar Convention. Due to its habitat diversity and the presence of permanent water, Wadi Wurayah is considered a stronghold for the wildlife in UAE.

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