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May 19, 2021 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mashpi Reserve, in the heart of the Andean Choco, is incredibly unique, not just for its remarkable biodiversity, but for the continuous discovery of new species, be they flora or fauna. Take, for instance, two of the most recent plant discoveries: Burmeistera catulum and Burmeistera velutina, which are both part of the Campanulaceae family of bellflowers.

The Burmeistera catalum

Here you can have a close look to Burmeistera catulum’s trichomes! (Photos courtesy of Nathan Muchhala.)

While these two species are closely related to one another, they are distinct in appearance. The Burmeistera catulum features a more pronounced number of trichomes (like short, fine hairs) that encompass the stem and flower, which is essentially colorless. The leaves of this species range from translucent to purple and seem rather long, taking on an oblanceolate shape.

The Burmeistera velutina

Observe how the filaments protrude from the Burmeistera velutina’s flower! (Photos courtesy of Nathan Muchhala.)

In contrast, the Burmeistera velutina has a large flower measuring between 1.26 and 1.42 inches in size, from which five elegant filaments protrude. Though opaque in tone, they appear white because they are covered in microscopic trichomes. The leaves of the Burmeistera velutina are also slightly wider and greener than those of the Burmeistera catulum.

Pollination

One lively creature present throughout Mashpi Reserve, and the region, is the bat. And, thanks to these nocturnal busy bodies, the Burmeistera have a willing and eager partner to facilitate pollination. What attracts bats to these plant species appears to be the combination of odor with the texture of the trichomes.

Bats, as you know, use echolocation. They rely on their enhanced olfactory (smell) and auditory (hearing) senses to home in on these fascinating plants. And, since the Burmeistera don’t seem to waste any energy on producing a colorful flower to attract an otherwise sight-based pollinator, their odor is the primary attractor for bats.

How were these new species discovered?

These two new discoveries are a result of field research conducted by Nathan Muchhala of the University of Missouri–St. Louis in July of 2018. This endeavor was made possible through Mashpi’s ongoing collaboration with the Universidad Indoamérica, which facilitates research and studies of the Choco based in the Mashpi Reserve.

Life is all around! Start planning a trip to Mashpi Lodge and check out the reserve and its fantastic species!

The area of the reserve where these two species were discovered has been host to several research projects that have led to a total of seven new plant and animal species discoveries. Most recently in 2019, a new type of orchid was logged in this area—the Lepanthes mashpica. Also in 2018, two new types of aquatic insects were discovered along the rivers and streams that flow through this thick and wonderous cloud and rainforest. Prior to that, 2015 saw the discovery of the endemic Hyloscirtus mashpi frog, and 2016 saw the discovery of the beautiful Magnolia mashpi tree.

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January 6, 2020 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A new species of orchid has been found in the Mashpi Reserve, an essential part of the Choco biosphere, located in north-western Ecuador. The discovery occurred thanks to a joint effort between Mashpi Lodge’s Department of Research and Biology, Quito’s Botanical Garden, and Universidad de las Americas (UDLA), a local university.

Lepanthes mashpica (Baquero & T.S. Jaram), named after its home, is a species of orchid that belongs to the Pleurothallidinae subtribe of the orchid family. The Lepanthes genus, one of the most diverse in the world, comprises over 1100 species worldwide.

How do new species of orchids get discovered?

The type specimen was collected in 2017, during an excursion through one of the many trails that surround Mashpi Lodge. Lead researcher Luis Baquero (UDLA-JBQ) looked for crucial clues in the shape and form of the plant, expertly using methods of taxonomy to establish the distinct traits that set this species apart from the rest of its subtribe. The cataloging process confirmed that it’s a distinct orchid species, previously unrecognized by science.

The process is a bit longer than one might expect. According to Mateo Roldan, the Research Director at Mashpi Lodge, it took several outings. “Finally, on Luis’ third visit, we were able to find this orchid in bloom. This was when he said to me, ´This is a new species! ´ the excitement was immense! Later, back at the lodge, he showed me the details of the flower: shape, color, pattern, but especially the number of hairs over the petals. I couldn’t wait to start sending pictures to my friends and colleagues with the good news!”

 

Lepanthes mashpica joins the expanding list of endemic species discovered in the Reserve, which includes Magnolia mashpi, an iconic tree species that also bears the Mashpi moniker and the Mashpi Torrenteer (Hyloscirtus mashpi)recently discovered nocturnal tree frog.

What lies in store for this newly discovered orchid?

Luis and his team claim that there are several healthy populations of this species located at the Mashpi Reserve and that seedlings and adult specimens can be found alongside each other, which bodes well for the long term health of the species. For the time being, it is considered endemic to the Reserve, seeing as no specimens have been found elsewhere.

These efforts highlight the amazing level of biodiversity that occurs in the rich environment of the Choco forest, which has the distinction of being one of the most diverse in the world while also being one of the most threatened. Conservation programs rely on research such as the one that identified this orchid to quantify the value of the region, which is home to all sorts of unique wildlife.

Landscape of Mashpi Lodge

The Mashpi Reserve is part of a concerted effort to protect a substantial part of the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest from deforestation. Efforts include a carbon-sequestering program, education programs for local inhabitants around the region,  and scientific efforts such as the one that led to the discovery of Lepanthes mashpica.

These efforts are supported in part by contributions from Mashpi Lodge.

If you wish to learn more about the conservation and scientific research sponsored by Mashpi Lodge or would love to plan a trip there, visit the webpage.

 

(Photo credits: Luis Baquero)


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March 5, 2018 2

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">4</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/a-jungle-lodge-in-evolution-mashpis-new-sustainable-spa/"></div>A cocoon in the clouds, a crystal palace: the architecture of Mashpi Lodge has been variously described according to the imagination of the beholder<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/a-jungle-lodge-in-evolution-mashpis-new-sustainable-spa/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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November 13, 2017 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">5</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/the-mashpi-project/"></div>We’re therefore pleased to bring you news of a creative endeavor that will attempt to bring home just how special this part of our planet is.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/the-mashpi-project/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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August 24, 2017 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">4</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/discover-the-renovated-mashpi-lodge/"></div>Metropolitan Touring is pleased to announce the latest renovation at Mashpi Lodge<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/discover-the-renovated-mashpi-lodge/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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July 25, 2017 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">3</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/everyones-a-biologist-in-the-mashpi-laboratory/"></div>Located right onsite just steps from the main Lodge, the Laboratory offers opportunity for guests to interact with and learn from Mashpi’s resident biologist and guides. <!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/everyones-a-biologist-in-the-mashpi-laboratory/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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April 4, 2017 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">4</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/mashpi-lodge-featured-as-one-of-the-bbcs-amazing-hotels/"></div>Monday 3rd April saw the second installment of the BBC's new series that’s giving us a glimpse into some of the most unique and spectacular hotels in the world, Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/mashpi-lodge-featured-as-one-of-the-bbcs-amazing-hotels/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->