Washington: Seven previously unknown species of mammals have been discovered by a group of American and Filipino biologists in the Philippines, increasing the number of native mammals known from Luzon Island (excluding bats) from 42 to 49 (17 percent).
The seven species are members of the genus Apomys.
"These animals are part of the rich biological heritage of the Philippines", said Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
"The forests where they live are crucial watershed areas for Manila and many other cities. Protecting their mountain forest habitat is good for them and for people."
All of the species are forest mice, and each species lives only in a small part of Luzon.
According to Dr. Lawrence Heaney from The Field Museum, project leader and lead author of the publication, "These are wonderful little mice that live in forested regions high in the mountains. Although they are often abundant, they actively avoid humans and rarely cause any harm. They prefer to eat earthworms and seeds on the forest floor."
Two of the new species live only in the Zambales Mountains (on Mt. Tapulao), two live only on Mt. Banahaw (south of Manila), two only in the Mingan Mountains of Aurora Province, and one lives only in the Sierra Madre of northeastern Luzon.
The study has been published in the Fieldiana, the peer-reviewed journal of The Field Museum.
First Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 15:41