Monkey Forest Tales: Talking about some scientific terms: Endemism

In past days while talking with people outside of the scientific circle, I found myself explaining some terms that are used in media and even in some policy documents not always consulted with a person with a scientific background. So, in today’s post and next post you will find some explanations and examples of the terms: endemism and hotspots that you probably had hear.
Let’s start with endemism that is a biological term used to describe a living things (bacteria, fungi, virus, plants, and animals) which are only found in a restricted area, usually limited by certain conditions which can include limits of temperature, altitude and relative humidity. But what that mean? It means that those specific organisms are not found in any other place. This can be a mountain, a specific type of forest in a remote area, an specific ecosystem or country or even a continent.
An example from the study area is the dusky titi monkey, they only live in a small area of Colombia. You can only find them in an area of around 60.000 km2, an area bigger than Switzerland.
One of the reasons this terms is important and most of the species that are endemics are in risk of extinction is that its reduced distribution area make them more sensible to disappear once the habitat in which they are found is destroyed.
Colombia is a country with a high number of endemic species, 14 % of the known species in Colombia are endemic. Most of them threatened by deforestation due to human activities such as road construction, agriculture, cattle ranching, petrol exploitation, and mining.
Not all endemic species in Colombia are found in protected areas and some are currently found in fragmented landscapes. In the case of the dusky titi monkeys, they are only found in two National Parks, Tinigua and La Macarena, both with high deforestation.
Outside of the National Parks dusky titi monkeys are found in forest fragments surrounded by pastures, palm oil plantations, crops, and urbanizations. Therefore, in order to conserve this species, we need to learn how to manage the landscapes in which they survive outside of National Parks and conserve the populations inside the National Parks.
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