U.Porto biologist is awarded a National Geographic Society grant

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Luís Ceríaco, biologist and curator of the National History Museum of the University of Porto (MHNC-UP), was awarded a National Geographic Society Grant to study in the Serra da Neve in Angola, one of the most unchartered and fascinating regions in the African continent.

Luís Ceríaco is the project manager and curator of the MHNC-UP and works in close partnership with researchers and museums of the African Portuguese-Speaking Countries (PALOP). His team will go to Serra da Neve, in the Namibe Province, in Angola, to explore the mountain range, covered by the Miombo Forest, in the savannahs of Mopane.

“Suddenly, in the middle of semi-desert and flat ground, we have an authentic rock island, which is over 1900 metres high”, explains Luís Ceríaco in an interview to UP news portal. The project manager and curator has already been two times to Serra da Neve. “It is like being in a boat, in the middle of the ocean and discover an island that is one of the most unchartered territories in Angola”, Ceríaco adds.

The biologist will carry out research on genetics and the biology of animals and plants. The grant by the National Geographic Society will allow Luís Ceríaco to look for new plant and animal species. This will be Ceríaco’s third expedition to Serra da Neve. In the former two he has discovered new species, namely an earless pygmy toad.

Luís Ceríaco and his multidisciplinary team of ten researchers from Angola, United States, Germany and Portugal do not have a specific date to go to the field due to the ongoing pandemic; however, the estimate date is the second half of the present year.

The expedition will be registered in a virtual diary, “every time the Internet connection allows it”, explained the researcher. “And the fact that several members of the team are experienced photographs” is important as one of the goals of this field trip is to “set up a photographic exhibition after the expedition, to be presented in Portugal, at the MHNC-UP, and in Angolan museums”, adds Luís Ceríaco.

This is a way to encourage the population and people worldwide to actively preserve the rich rural landscape and biodiversity in this part of the world and around the globe”. The results of this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Luís Ceríaco holds a PhD in History and Science Philosophy – Museology by the University of Évora, he is a post-doctoral researcher by the California Academy of Sciences, Natural History Museum of the University of Florida, Villanova University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. As a biologist, Ceríaco authored over 80 scientific publications and has found and catalogued over tow dozens of new species.