20th December 2001
STUDENT EXPLORERS ON VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY
Student explorers from the University of Lincoln are waiting to hear whether they have discovered a completely new species of catfish.
Eleven Animal Science (Behaviour) students from the Lincolnshire School of Agriculture spent six weeks in a remote area of the Brazilian rainforests to carry out an in-depth exploration of the native wildlife.
The team made the trip to study hummingbird aggression and rainforest exploration, but they got more than they bargained for when they discovered what is believed to be a new species of catfish 3,500 feet up a mountainside in a small stream.
Researchers in Brazil are currently working to confirm whether or not the fish is of a previously undiscovered species and should report back to Lincoln with their findings soon.
“The hummingbird project looked at the effect of deforestation on the natural habitat and the territorial aggression of the local hummingbird,” explained Colin Riches, animal unit manager and team technical officer.
“The project, conducted on behalf of zoo curators, gathered specific habitat details which will enable hummingbird enclosures to be created with adequate space and food supply, minimising aggressive behaviour.”
The students also carried out an extensive survey of the area surrounding the remote Iracambi Research and Conservation Centre. Estimates indicate that the region still holds 261 species of mammal (73 endemic), 620 species of birds (106 endemic) and 260 species of amphibian (128 endemic).
“The trip was an eye-opening and enriching experience,” said Mr Riches. “The students were able to apply their animal science knowledge to a totally different environment, and some of them are planning a return trip next year to continue their research.”
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University of Lincoln
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