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New species found in C China

(Xinhua)    10:41, November 06, 2015

WUHAN, Nov. 5 -- Scientists have identified new species of insects and plants in central China's Shennongjia National Nature Reserve, according to a report released on Thursday.

Seven kinds of flies and three types of dragonflies have been discovered in Shennongjia over the past five years, together with Zhengyia shennongensis, a new genus and species of the nettle family.

The discoveries are part of a newly completed research project on Shennongjia natural resources. The research, which took five years, has resulted in a comprehensive report on the area's geography, animals, plants, microbes and human residents.

The discoveries have offered further evidence that Shennongjia is one of the most biologically rich places on Earth, said Deng Tao, researcher at Kunming Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who was also the first botanist to describe Zhengyia.

Deng and his colleagues first found Zhengyia in a deep valley in northwestern Shennongjia in 2011. After studying samples of the plant for two years he discovered that it was a new genus, with roots dating back as far as 33 million years ago.

Deng and his team named the plant after the renowned Chinese botanist Wu Zhengyi. Their findings were published in "Taxon," a leading journal on biodiversity, in 2013.

However, Zhengyia, a "living fossil" in Deng's words, is critically endangered, with only about 100 individual plants. Deng said the following research would be focused on how to better preserve the rare plant.

Shennongjia Nature Reserve is creating a digital database to integrate research on the reserve with 3-D maps.

Wang Daxing, head of Shennongjia's management bureau, said the database will be the first of its kind in China.

As the only well-preserved sub-tropical mid-latitude forest ecosystem in the world, Shennongjia boasts rich natural forest resources with thousands of species of animals and plants, including snub-nosed monkeys, a rare and protected animal in China.

In 1990, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization added Shennongjia to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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