Seven New Forest Mice Species Found In Luzon, Philippines

A team of Filipino and American biologists recently found seven new species of forest mice endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

AsianScientist (Jun. 21, 2011) – The Philippines is living up to its reputation as one of the world’s most mega-diverse countries. A team of Filipino and American biologists recently found seven new species of forest mice endemic to the island of Luzon, increasing the number of native mammals (excluding bats) known from the island from 42 to 49 (up by 17 percent).

All seven species of forest mice are members of the genus Apomys. The formal descriptions of these species was published in the May 2011 issue of Fieldiana, the peer-reviewed journal of the Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) in Chicago.

Two of the species are found only in Mt. Tapulao, Zambales; two in Mt. Banahaw, Quezon; another two in Mingan Mountains, Aurora Province; and one in Sierra Madre mountain range, northeastern Luzon.

According to Dr. Lawrence Heaney from The Field Museum, project leader and lead author of the publication:

“These are wonderful little mice that live in forested regions high in the mountains. Although they are often abundant, they actively avoid humans and rarely cause any harm. They prefer to eat earthworms and seeds on the forest floor.”

Dr. Scott Steppan, head of the laboratory at Florida State University where the DNA portion of the study was conducted, said:

“The Philippines is an ideal place to study the evolution of animal diversity, even better than the famous Galapagos Islands. These animals have been evolving in the Philippine archipelago for millions of years.”

Josefa Veluz, biologist of the Philippine National Museum and co-author of the study, pointed out that the recently discovered mice species from the Sierra Madre and Mt. Banahaw live within protected areas, but those from the Mingan Mountains and Mt. Tapulao do not. She cautioned the public on the impact on wildlife and watersheds of logging, agricultural expansion, and illegal mining activities.

The Philippines, although cited by various conservation organizations as among those with remarkable levels of species endemism, is also ranked as one of the world’s most threatened hotspots, where increased human activities contribute largely to habitat loss and pose as severe threats to the existence of various species of flora and fauna.


Source: Field Museum.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Tiffany Chua Copok graduated with a MA, BA (Hons) in natural sciences from Cambridge University, UK. Tiffany has worked as a research scientist at the non-profit International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She has a lifelong passion for plant sciences.

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