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Bio-caving expeditions in Morocco

Every year since 2001, the Association Catalana de Biospeleologia has organized a caving expedition in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The objective is to collect specimens of rare cave fauna, especially coleoptera (beetles), to study their genetic code.

SEPTEMBER 2014

© Augustin Meseguer

  • Project partner: Association Catalana de Biospeleologia, biosp.blogspot.com.es
  • Country: Morocco, Africa
  • Project type: Gaining knowledge
  • Budget: €2,000 in 2013

Fifteen expeditions have been organized in Morocco for a systematic study of subterranean fauna. Ten new species of cavernicolous coleoptera have been discovered. However, some species of cave fauna have yet to be discovered. Their genetic code is needed to draw the complete family tree of coleoptera of the Trechusgenus.

6 new species - the Trechus genus

Obtaining samples of the subterranean fauna is no easy task. Caving expeditions with vertical access expertise have to be organized. A collaboration has been established between the University Hasan II of Casablanca and the Catalan Association de Biospeologia. Amateur cavers, accompanied by Spanish and Moroccan biologists, took part in each of these scientific missions.

© Augustin Meseguer

In 2013, with the support of the Petzl Foundation, a first expedtion into the Oujda caves, in the Beni Snassen mountains in the north of the country, succeeded in capturing many cave species, but unfortunately no coleoptera. A second expedition into the Ait Mehammed chasm in the Grand Atlas, gave good results, with the capture of the hypogeous subilsia senenti which was the primary objective of the expedition. The study of this specimen will conclude the work on the genes of this species..

As this expedition did not allow them to complete the study and description of domene, a new species of coleoptera, discovered in 2012, the association is already planning the next mission for 2014.

The coleoptera collected will be shared among the researchers for their studies. Some of these specimens will enhance the collections of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona.

Uploaded in september 2014


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