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Anfibio del genero Microkayla (anteriormente Psychrophrynella). Son pequeños y solo habitan en los Altos Andes tropicales de Bolivia. (Foto: Mauricio OcampoÖ

It has been twenty seven years since the famous ornithologist Ted Parker, together with a group of renowned researchers, suggested that Madidi National Park is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. Today, almost two decades later, scientists continue to discover species new to science in the park.

The diverse landscapes which this protected area holds make it possible for numerous species to inhabit a relatively limited geographical area. The park holds pampas, grasslands as well as Amazonian forests that climb the Andes and are transformed into humid mountain forests where hot and humid winds rising fro m the lowlands are cooled and condensed. At these elevations, dense belts of clouds form that keep these forests moist almost all year around.

Photo: Márton Hardy

Imposing glaciers survive global warming

Polylepis forests are found starting at 3,800 meters above sea level, and are locally known as Keñoas (Polylepis sericea) and Lampaya (Polylepis pepei). Although less widely known than Amazonian forests, Polylepis forests harbor numerous threatened species and some others that are not yet described. These forests are fragmented and immersed in a mountainous landscape dominated by short grassland steppe extending up to imposing glaciers that still survive global warming.

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Amphibians endemic to the tropical Andes of Bolivia and Peru

EIt is in these high Andean landscapes where herpetologists from Armonia’s ‘Polylepis Forests’ project and who also work for the ‘Identidad Madidi’ project, discovered four species of amphibians not yet known to science. These amphibians of the genus Microkayla (formerly Psychrophrynella) are small and only inhabit the high tropical Andes of Bolivia.

Herpetologist Mauricio Ocampo, a scientist associated with the National Museum of Natural History of Bolivia, says that these amphibians are so small and their legs are so undeveloped that their capacity for movement is very limited.

Virtually every valley can hold a population that is isolated from the population in the next valley over. Over a long period of time, this situation has and continues to favor the formation of new species within this group of amphibians,

– says Ocampo.

of frogs of the genus Microkayla have extremely small geographic distributions; consequently, their populations are also very small. (Photo: Márton Hardy)

Throughout many years of work as scientists at the National Museum of Natural History of Bolivia, Mauricio Ocampo and James Aparicio, both Bolivian herpetologists, have discovered numerous new species of amphibians.

Learn more about the fascinating details of the parental care of these tiny amphibians, see our video:

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Both herpetologists agree that species of frogs of the genus Microkayla have extremely small geographic distributions; consequently, their populations are also very small.

Mauricio Ocampo affirms that practically all species of the Microkayla genus are endemic to the small headwaters of the valleys in which they were discovered. It is therefore very important to protect these sites, because they are the only places where these species live.

Saving Key Biodiversity Areas

The Key Biodiversity Area called “Polylepis Forests of Madidi”, where the four species of Microkayla frogs were discovered, is also the area within Bolivia of greatest importance for the Royal Cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae) and the Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant (Anairetes alpinus). The first is listed as Critically Endangered and the second is listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

Through Armonia’s ‘Polylepis Forests’ project, we work to restore these threatened forests, ensuring the protection of the most critically endangered habitat in the high Andes of Bolivia.

The ‘Polylepis Forests’ project is funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and is carried out in coordination with the National Protected Areas Service of Bolivia.

The ‘Polylepis Forests’ project needs your support. Please support us with your donation to ensure the future of Polylepis forests and the threatened species that inhabit them.


El proyecto de Bosques de Polylepis necesita su apoyo. Para asegurar el futuro de los bosques de polylepis y las especies amenazadas que lo habiten, por favor apóyenos con su donación.




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