Scientists have discovered 15 new species in the arid Karoo region,
ranging from a worm through to a new reptile species.
amazing how scientists are still discovering new species in this modern
age?ˇ¨, said Domitilla Raimondo, principal investigator of the Karoo BioGaps
The new species include two new scorpions, a reptile, two wandering spiders
and a plant.
ˇ§The findings are exciting,ˇ¨ says Carol Poole, project manager at the South
African National Biodiversity Institute.
When scientific organisations in the country began assessing what shale gas
exploration would do to the arid Karoo environment, ˇ§we realised that we
donˇ¦t know [enough] about the Karoo to make informed decisionsˇ¨, says Poole.
The Karoo BioGaps Project, a consortium of 20 institutions, aims to fill in
the ˇ§gapsˇ¨ in our understanding of biodiversity in the Karoo. A study
published in the South African Journal of Science last year found
that the extent of the countryˇ¦s shale gas reserves may be substantially
less than expected.
The Karoo has historically been undersampled scientifically. It is very hot
for most of the year, large tracts of it are privately owned and the
distances are vast.
ˇ§We donˇ¦t have many species records,ˇ¨ she says.
The three-year project ends this year, and the team expects to produce
dozens of scientific papers, as well as distribution maps of biodiversity
for policymakers. The BioGaps teams are calling on the public to help them
digitise old records from previous centuries through their online