Researchers presented the bilingual book “Isla Escudo de Veraguas: studying its biodiversity together”, which is part of the research project “Studies of biodiversity on the island Escudo de Veraguas”, which received funding from the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) through the call for R&D Promotion (FID) 2017, which was executed by the Ramsar Regional Center for the Western Hemisphere (CREHO).
Said work received economic support from SENACYT for its printing, as well as from other sources.
This bilingual book (Spanish/ngäbere) is the result of research carried out on the island of Escudo de Veraguas, on its fauna and flora, carried out by a team of 10 scientists (8 nationals and 2 foreigners) from various universities and research centers, together with with college students and people from surrounding communities.
The book also presents its content in Ngäbere with the intention of encouraging local students to study the native language, which is being lost among the younger population. The island is located 17 km off the coast of the Valiente Peninsula, in the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca.
This work presents new information on the species of animals and plants endemic to the island, that is, those that are only found there, such as the pygmy sloth, the Shield armored spiny rat, the sea salamander, the Shield hummingbird and the Zamia exclusive to the island, among others.
The project was led by Dr. Alicia Ibáñez, scientific editor of the book, who is a researcher at the Panamanian Center for Social Studies and Action (CEASPA).
The main objective of this study was to evaluate those animals and plants exclusive to the island to learn more about the size of their populations, where they live and what they need to survive. With this information, its protection can be planned and it is hoped that it can be included in a future management plan for the island.
Co-investigators Daniel Holness, Rafael Samudio, Ioana Chiver, Abel Batista, Alberto Taylor, Rodolfo Flores, Diorene Smith, Francisco Herrera and Jorge Luis Pino also participate in the research project. Other members of the research team are collaborators, university students and people from the communities surrounding the study area who contributed their knowledge and techniques.
Among the most outstanding results found by the researchers was that the populations of the known endemic species are healthy, although threatened by various factors such as the degradation of their habitats by felling trees for construction and firewood, as well as by the uncontrolled increase in tourism, among others.
Dr. Alicia Ibáñez, principal investigator of the project, pointed out: “As part of the study, it was also found that there are possibly many more species that have different characteristics from their ‘relatives’ from the mainland and could represent new species for science and our country. More scientific studies are required to learn more about them. We hope that this book will serve to make the authorities and the population in general aware of the importance of the unique biodiversity of the Escudo de Veraguas island and the urgent need to protect it.”
Ing. Milagro Mainieri, director of Research and Development of SENACYT, stated:
“During the execution of the project we have witnessed the proactivity of the research team and the collaborators who have accompanied them on this journey, proactivity that led to multiple meetings with local authorities in order to communicate the progress of the research and the conservation actions required. for Shield Island.