The official list of mammalian species grows in Ecuador

June 15, 2021 00:00
Isabel Alarcon

Marmosa perplexa is part of the small foxes that have undergone the most changes. Photo: Courtesy Carlos Boada and Diego Tirira

Rodentssea ​​lions and monkeys are part of the nine species that were added in the last six months to the official list of mammals of Ecuador. Its update was published in May 2021 and shows that the diversity of these animals is growing rapidly.

Diego Tirira, author of this study and researcher at the Mammals and Conservation Foundation, says that 10 years ago he was not sure that Ecuador could reach 400 species. Now, it already has 457 varieties of these animals and until the end of this decade it is believed that it could reach 500. This for a small country is “something gigantic”, he says.

The list, as it is currently known, was created in 2011. Before that time there were several documents, since each collection handled different figures. To unify the data, the researchers agreed and created a registry.

The guide ‘Mammals of Ecuador: Updated Official List of Species’ is an effort of the Ecuadorian Association of Mammals and has the support of the Mammals and Conservation Foundation and the three main scientific collections of mammals in the country: National Institute of Biodiversity (Inabio), Gustavo Orcés Natural History Museum of the National Polytechnic School and the Zoology Museum of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.

For 10 years, the list has been updated every six months, depending on the findings. Tirira explains that, in 2018, for example, only one was published. This last time a new update was necessary due to the large number of changes.

Among the modifications are species that changed their name, some new for Ecuador, others just described for science and taxonomic changes. One of these was the case of the pygmy monkey that was separated into two species.

Now, there is the northwestern pygmy titi, which lives north of the Napo River, and the southwestern pygmy titi, which is the one that was added as a new species and lives in the south of this area.

The bats (Chiroptera) remain as the group most biodiverse country mammals, 178 species; It is followed by rodents (Rodentia), with 126. Tirira says that the latter make up the group that has grown the most in recent years and is believed to have the highest increase.

Six months ago there were 123 species of rodents, in 2017 there were 119 and 30 years ago they reached 84. Most are appearing in the foothills of the Andes .

Findings of large mammals are not as common, but they continue to be recorded. Tirira says that one of the most curious cases was the appearance of two new species of sea ​​lions in Galapagos . One is known in Chile and the other in Mexico . The animals found are stray individuals that were apparently carried by the ocean currents to the islands.

Researchers take these sea lions into account because they could reappear and establish populations, such as what happened in the Santa Elena peninsula .

As mammal species increase, so do their threats. Monkeys have become the group most affected by habitat loss. This occurs mainly on the coast with the Ecuadorian white capuchin and the brown-headed spider monkey.

The Costa jaguar is another mammal of concern today, since it is estimated that less than 30 individuals survive.

The northern pampas cat, which recently changed its name, is one of the most threatened felines in Ecuador due to changes in its habitats caused by human activity in the areas.

Read the original coverage from El Comercio at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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