A grant has been awarded to the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) to continue a herpetological survey of Myanmar. A previous NSF grant resulted in a detailed survey of the interior lowland herpetofauna, a preliminary reconnaissance of the bordering highlands, and training a team of Forestry personnel in scientific surveying methods. What remains is to survey the virtually unexplored mountainous regions along Myanmar's borders with Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand. Some of these areas are conservation priorities and contain two of Conservation International's biodiversity hotspots and eight of World Wildlife Federation's Global 200 ecoregions. Given the unique ecosystems of these areas, and the increasing loss of habitat, it is critical to conduct surveys at this time. The proposed completion of a countrywide herpetological survey will yield the first assessment of Myanmar's herpetofauna of incomparable depth. The initial survey has increased the known amphibian and reptile diversity by 21% (16 species previously not known to occur in Myanmar and an estimated 56 undescribed species). Specimens and tissue samples, essential for biological studies of the Asian herpetofauna, will be available to the scientific community. Through these surveys, publications, training of US and Myanmar students and Myanmar Forest Department staff, the knowledge and awareness of Myanmar's herpetofauna are expanding, thereby allowing the Myanmar Forest Department to make more informed management and conservation decisions. The American and Myanmar public will be informed about Myanmar's biodiversity and its importance through museum exhibits at both the Academy, the Myanmar Forest Department Museum and the Myanmar Biodiversity Museum through the production of posters and other educational materials. With the assistance of CAS's Education Division, the Myanmar website with Myanmar survey-related topics that will be of interest to younger audiences will be expanded.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
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Maureen M. Kearney
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California Academy of Sciences
San Francisco
United States
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