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To understand the past

Thermometer: amphibians guide conservation

Ana Carolina Carnaval / UC BerkeleyThermometer: amphibians guide conservationAna Carolina Carnaval / UC Berkeley

The southern region of the State of Bahia is one of the most important regions for the preservation of the Mata Atlântica rain forest, according to a new method resorted to by biologist Ana Carolina Carnaval, from the University of California at Berkeley, to define regions able to shelter a wider variety of plants and animals in periods of intense climate variations.  In partnership with other researchers from Berkeley, from the Paulista State University/Unesp in the city of Rio Claro and from the University of São Paulo, she superimposed the geographical distribution of three species of amphibians – the blacksmith tree frog (Hypsiboas faber), the “perereca-verde” (Hypsiboas albomarginatus), and the “perereca-cacarejo” (Hypsiboas semilineatus) – with ecological models that reconstructed climate conditions that existed 21 thousand and 6 thousand years ago (Science). Considering the amphibians as indicators of environmental changes affecting other species as well, the results indicated three regions that had remained unaffected during the referred periods:  the smaller region is located in the State of Pernambuco; the medium-sized region is located in the State of São Paulo and the biggest region is located in the south of the State of Bahia. According to the researchers, the conclusions reinforce the urgency to study and preserve the forests in that region, the fauna of which is less known and potentially more diverse than the fauna in the Southeast. In the opinion of co-author Célio Haddad, from Unesp, this result does not mean that other regions are less important nor does it eliminate the need to study more species.