Researchers from the University of Vigo, in collaboration with the Environmental Services Unit at the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (Cuba), have discovered two new species of Caribbean orchid.
The Caribbean islands have been natural laboratories and a source of inspiration for biologists for over two centuries now. Suffice to say that the studies by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in the tropical archipelagos contributed to the emergence of the theory of evolution.
In this case, a Spanish research team from the University of Vigo has discovered two new species belonging to the orchid family (Orchidaceae: Laeliinae) in Cuba. They have been called Tetramicra riparia and Encyclia navarroi. The two plants were found in the eastern and western zones of the island respectively.
"The first species described, Encyclia navarroi, is an orchid with considerably large flowers. A year later we discovered the Tetramicra riparia species, with very small flowers. The latter is so named because it grows on the banks of stony streams in the mountains of Baracoa, one of the rainiest and least explored areas in Cuba", as ngel Vale explained to SINC. Vale is a researcher at the University of Vigo and co-author of the studies published by the journals Systematic Botany and Annales Botanici Fennici.
Darwin was very much drawn to the orchid family, and used it to propose certain hypotheses about the importance of the relations between flowers and pollinators for biodiversity. Between 25,000 and 30,000 species of these plants are estimated to exist. However, the mechanisms that explain this amazing variety are only now being discovered.
"We could highlight their extraordinary capacity to interact with different types of pollinators. Contrary to most plants, many orchids do not produce nectar or other substances to compensate insects and birds that visit them", explained the researc
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology