Biologists discover new mouse species in PH

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By Marjorie Gorospe

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – A group of Filipino and American biologists recently discovered seven yet-unknown mammal species in the country.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Filipino-American expedition found seven forest mice that belong to the genus Apomys and live only in a small part of Luzon.

The new-found species are said to actively avoid humans and rarely cause any harm. They prefer to eat earthworms and seeds on the forest floor.

Two of the species live in, or are endemic to, Mount Tapulao in Zambales; two in Mt. Banahaw;  two in the Mingan Mountains of Aurora Province; and the remaining specie in the Sierra Madre mountain range of northeastern Luzon.

DENR chief Ramon Paje said the discovery strengthens international recognition for the country’s rich biodiversity.

Full description of this discovery was published in the May 2011 issue of Fieldiana, the peer-reviewed journal of the Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) in Chicago, co-authored by biologists from the University of the Philippines, Conservation International Philippines, Philippine National Museum, Utah Museum of Natural History, and Florida State University.

Dr. Scott Steppan of the Florida State University, one of the article’s authors, said the wildlife in the Philippines can be considered richer than that of the Galapagos Islands. Steppan said the discovery also makes the Philippines an ideal place to study the evolution of animal diversity.

Josefa Veluz, a biologist from the National Museum and also an author of the article, pointed out that not all the newly discovered mouse species live within the protected areas. Thus, she cautions about the impact of illegal logging, mining and agricultural expansion on these new species.

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