Soon we may all be giving up pumpkin spice for a different kind of latte, thanks to a newly identified species from the coffee family (Rubiaceae) recently discovered in eastern Panama.
The new-to-science plant, Notopleura sallydavidsonae, was described yesterday by Rodolfo Flores and co-authors in Webbia – The Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Geography. It was named in honor of Sally Davidson, Rainforest Trust’s board member. Davidson is a longtime supporter of Rainforest Trust, serving on the board almost since the organization’s conception 30 years ago. She is a passionate conservationist who also owns the Clyde’s restaurant chain.
“I am so honored to have this beautiful coffee bush in Panama named for me, and I must return someday to see it in flower,” Davidson said. “Working with Rainforest Trust has been an important part of my life for many years now, and this honor came as a great surprise and is very much appreciated.”
Rainforest Trust is currently working with its Panamanian partner Asociación Adopta el Bosque Panamá (ADOPTA) to expand the Cerro Chucantí Private Nature Reserve by 127 acres, with an expected completion date of later this month. This is the second expansion project the two conservation organizations have undertaken in their short two-year partnership. In 2016, Rainforest Trust and ADOPTA expanded Cerro Chucantí by 260 acres, bringing the total area protected within the reserve to 1,556 acres or nearly twice the size of Central Park.
There have been many discoveries of species new to science in Cerro Chucantí, including plants, salamanders, frogs and snakes. The geographic isolation of this massif or “sky island” has allowed its flora and fauna to differentiate considerably, so that it contains a number of locally endemic rainforest species.
“While Rainforest Trust’s mission is to protect tropical habitat to save threatened species, the discovery of species new-to-science within our protected areas reinforces the importance of safeguarding these vital habitats. Not only are there numerous threatened species in need of protection, but there could be just as many species that need to be discovered before they become extinct,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “We are very pleased and proud that our longstanding board member, Sally Davidson, has been honored with this namesake Rubiaceae.”
Species new-to-science are being discovered all across the tropics, the most biodiverse region of the planet. For example, Rainforest Trust’s Ecuadorean partner Fundacion EcoMinga announced in July that a new orchid species, Pleurothallis chicalensis, had been discovered in the Dracula Reserve in northwest Ecuador. Rainforest Trust has helped EcoMinga add some 900 acres to the reserve, with several more projects in the works slated for completion in 2019.
Rainforest Trust is currently compiling a list of new species discovered within its protected areas, with plans to host a “Species Legacy Program” at the international conservation organization’s 30th anniversary dinner in December. As it stands now, Rainforest Trust will auction off the naming rights to up to 12 new species as a way to increase both funding for and awareness of its projects, impacts and progress in saving species from extinction.
This protected area was made possible by the Conservation Action Fund. All gifts to the Conservation Action Fund are matched through the SAVES Challenge and used 100 percent in support of our programs.