Colombia and Neotropical Biodiversity - Off topic

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Colombia and Neotropical Biodiversity - Off topic
From: Nick Leseberg <>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 10:10:45 +1000
Hi All,

The discussion about Colombia and biodiversity is interesting. I doubt many of 
us here in Australia can comprehend the sort of biodiversity that exists in the 
neotropics, and the birds are but one example. Colombia has the largest number 
of bird species of any country (although Peru and Brazil are snapping at its 
heels), primarily because of the Andes and the amount of speciation such a 
mountain range brings with it. Coupled with the fact the Andes splits into 
three separate ranges in Colombia, the outlying Santa Marta mountains with 
their own haul of endemics, and its extensive coastline, it is unsurprising 
Colombia has such a hefty bird list.
To further make the point on neotropical biodiversity though, consider Ecuador. 
A small country about a quarter the size of Colombia and comparable in land 
area to Victoria, has a list of nearly 1700 species (and we complain about the 
size of some of the field guides here in Australia!).

I spent a week in the Ecuadorian Amazon once, staying at a university 
research station with nothing but my binoculars, a telescope and a 
couple of mates. In seven days we recorded about 340 species within a 
3km radius, an absolutely staggering number, when you consider we did 
nothing but walk. Looking at what some of our twitchathon teams must do 
to get over 200 species puts it in perspective. Think what you would 
need to do to get 340 species in a week in Australia! Is there anywhere in 
Australia you could see 340 species within a 3km radius over any amount of 
time? The other amazing thing that Denise has pointed out, is that many of the 
dark corners of these countries are very inaccessible and have been barely 
explored. New species are being discovered or their known ranges extended all 
the time.

Merry Christmas and good birding.


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