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Can fossil resins inform us about the biodiversity loss in the Malagasy hotspot?

The scientists want to analyse, from an original perspective, the Malagasy forest ecosystem over time.

The scientists want to analyse, from an original perspective, the Malagasy forest ecosystem over time.

07/11/2014

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With a grant from National Geographic Global Exploration Fund Northern Europe and the support of the Malagasy Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (MICET), Dr Mónica M. Solórzano Kraemer, scientist researcher from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt (Germany), together with Dr Xavier Delclòs, professor of Paleontology at Faculty of Geolgy and member of the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), and Dr Enrique Peñalver, scientist researcher at the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, will look for the Malagasy copal and its inclusions. The title of the project is “Are fossil communities preserved in amber a real image of ancient ecosystems, and can inform us about loss of biodiversity? The Malagasy copal”.

The grant gives the opportunity to continue the exploration in this country with the following intentions. First, to resolve some questions regarding the origin of "Malagasy amber". For this, the team would like to find and study some copal deposits. Second, to establish why only a few and selected of the arthropod species living in resiniferous forests became trapped in recent or fossil resins. For this, a comparative study of arthropods in amber with arthropods preserved in copal and those living around resiniferous trees is proposed. The scientists want to analyse, from an original perspective, the Malagasy forest ecosystem over time. They hope to discover Malagasy fauna preserved in the resin that has since disappeared; a priority, considering the rapid loss of biodiversity in Malagasy hotspot, where the majority of insects and arachnids are endemic. Furthermore, the project should provide large amounts of data relevant for the conservation of this exceptional rainforest ecosystem for future generations. The fieldworks in the Amber Mountain National Park in Madagascar will be done in spring 2015.

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