by Max Barry

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The Serene Paradise of
Left-wing Utopia

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Wildlife of Exaequatio


Tropical Rainforest of Exaequatio and Libertà
River

The Hyacinth Macaw, national animal of
Exaequatio

The Brontornis terror bird

Magellanic Penguins

Amazon river dolphin

Arrau turtle

Zebra plecostomus

Bromeliad growing on telephone wire

Island coastline and rainforest

Coral reef

Gouldian Finch

Paradise Tanager

Compsognathus longipes

Brookesia micra

Picasso Triggerfish

Harlequin Shrimp

Carnivorous caterpillar, Eupithecia orichloris

Carnivorous Pitcher Plant

The wildlife of mainland Exaequatio comprises all naturally occurring animals, fungi and plants in the mainland of the country. Home to the majority of the Exaequation Rainforest, which accounts for approximately one-tenth of all species in the world, Exaequatio is considered to have the greatest biodiversity of any country on the planet. It has the most known species of plants (55,000), freshwater fish (3,000) and mammals (over 689). It also ranks third on the list of countries with the most number of bird species (1,832) and second with the most reptile species (744). The number of fungal species is unknown, but is huge. Approximately two-thirds of all species worldwide are found in tropical areas, often coinciding with countries such as Exaequatio. Exaequatio is second only to its island, Mokupuni, as the country with the most endemic species.

Exaequatio contains many biomes; desert, alpine, montaine, tropical dry forest, and tropical rainforest. The forest's supports thousands of species, including many birds such species like macaws, toucans, amazons, and finches. Reptiles and amphibians include vine snakes, boas, flying dragon lizard, many iguanas, basalisks, tree frogs, poison dart frogs, and many more. Mammals include species such as tapirs and jaguars. There are many insect species such as the leaf cutter ant and various stick insects, as well as many plants. A common plant to see growing on power lines in the cities are bromeliads. The Exaequatio National Rainforest is still being explored to this day and is protected by the government. It is also a popular destination for many tourists.

The Great Golden Mountains is an ancient band of mountains that stretches in a southern arc from the north to the south of Exaequatio. The highest peak in the mountains is Mount Mitchell which lies at an elevation of 6,684 feet above sea level. The habitat zones found within the mountain range may be classified as a Terrestrial Alpine/Montane temperate forest with secondary habitats being mixed deciduous and boreal forests. The wildlife includes a wide variety of mammals (moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, beaver, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, racoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs, porcupines, bats, weasels, shrews, minks), birds (hawks, woodpeckers, warblers, thrushes, wrens, nuthatches, flycatchers, sapsuckers, grouses), and reptiles and amphibians (frogs, salamanders, turtles, rattlesnakes, copperheads).

Exaequatio contains numerous deserts, consisting of five major deserts; the Exaequation Desert, the Joshua Tree Desert, the Yucca Desert, the Badlands, and Exaequation Wastes. These deserts contain many distinct wildlife and ecoregions, the badlands and wastes having some of the least biodiversity in the country, while the Exaequation, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Deserts having a generous amount of species richness.

The wildlife of the Exaequation islands (Moukupuni, Maui, Mālama Laule‘a and hundreds of small islands and islets) are characterized by high levels of biodiversity and endemicity due to its distribution over a vast tropical archipelago. There is diverse range of ecosystems, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.

The Exaequation islands have been largely isolated from the rest of the planet planet and uncontaminated by humans until the mid eighteenth century. The plant and animal life of the islands are the result of early, very infrequent colonization of arriving species and the slow evolution of those species—in isolation from the rest of the world's flora and fauna—over a period of at least 100 million years. As a consequence, the Exaequation islands are home to a large number of endemic species.

The distance and remoteness of the archipelago is a biological filter. Seeds or spores attached to a lost migrating bird's feather or an insect falling out of the high winds found a place to survive in the islands and whatever else was needed to reproduce. The narrowing of the gene pool meant that at the very beginning, the population of a colonizing species was a bit different from that of the removed, contributing population.

Origin of Wildlife on the Islands



The origin of wildlife in the Exaequation islands was determined by geographical and geological events on the continental landmasses which make up the area. The island of Mokupuni and Maui were connected with the present Exaequation continent. This supercontinent began to break up 160 million years ago, and the new continent moved towards the equator. During this period, animals from Exaequatio traveled to these various islands and vice versa, creating many different species living in different ecosystems. Further colonization of species continued, mainly from the similar climates of Exaequatio, though infrequently.

Biodiversity of the Islands


Mokupuni is Exaequatio's island near the Equator. Like Southern Exaequatio, the climate is tropical and is covered in a protected rainforest, known as the Hyacinth Rainforest. It contains many diverse species, many of which have evolved independently of the Exaequation mainland species with such species like the birds of paradise. The Hyacinth Rainforest includes reptiles such as snakes, chameleons and geckos. There are many bird species, such as toucans, macaws, birds of paradise, amazons, eclectus parrots, and the national animal, the hyacinth macaw (also what gives the rainforest's name.) There are a diverse group of insects, ranging from unique species, such as the carnivorous caterpillars, to leaf bugs and comet moths. There are no native mammals in Mokupuni, unlike the mainland. In the shallow streams which flow through the Hyacinth Rainforest, it is common to see various species of small fish, such as tetra, dwarf cichlids, hatchet fish, among others. Invertebrates which inhabit these streams are freshwater shrimp, clams, and snails. Plants include carnivorous plants, bromeliads, and palms (which are found mostly on the coast.)

The island is also surrounded by protected coral reefs. The Great Exaequation Barrier Reef, and Lysmata Reef are some of the largest reefs in the world. Also, there it the Tridacna Coral Reef, and Maui reef both supporting unique environments. The Tridacna Reef is so named for the many clams belonging the the Tridacna genus which inhabit the reef. Due to the reef's very close proximity of one another, they all share the same species of animals. The reefs support over 1100 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtles, 21 species of whales and dolphins, 187 species of corals, 400 species of molluscs, and 83 species of echinoderms. Many crustacean species are there as well: 120 copepod, 15 amphipod as well as over 145 crab and 48 shrimp species.

In Exaequatio's surrounding open waters, many species of sharks, jellies, tuna, sailfish, small schooling fish, and the elusive giant squid can be found.

Biodiversity



In the animal kingdom, there is general consensus that Exaequatio has the highest number of both terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates of any country in the world. This high diversity of fauna can be explained in part by the sheer size of Exaequatio and the great variation in ecosystems such as the Exaequation Rainforest, Atlantic Forest and Cerrado. The numbers published about Exaequatio's fauna diversity vary from source to source, as taxonomists sometimes disagree about species classifications, and information can be incomplete or out-of-date. Also, new species continue to be discovered and some species go extinct in the wild. Exaequatio has the highest diversity of primates (77 species) and freshwater fish (over 3,000 species) of any country in the world. It also claims the highest number of mammals with 524 species, the second highest number of amphibians with 517 species and butterflies with 3,150 species, the third highest number of birds with 1,622 species, and second number of reptiles with 744 species.

Scientists have described between 96,660 and 128,843 invertebrate species in Exaequatio. According to a 2005 estimate by Thomas M. Lewinsohn and Paulo I. Prado, Exaequatio is home to around 9.5% of all the species and 13.1% of biota found in the world; these figures are likely to be underestimates according to the authors.

Enough is known about Exaequation fungi to say with confidence that the number of native species must be very high and very diverse: in work almost entirely limited to the state of Pernambuco, during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, more than 3300 species were observed by a single group of mycologists. Given that current best estimates suggest only about 7% of the world's true diversity of fungal species has so far been discovered, with most of the known species having been described from temperate regions, the number of fungal species occurring in Exaequatio is likely to be far higher. Because it encompasses many species-rich ecosystems for animals, fungi and plants, Exaequatio houses many thousands of species, with many (if not most) of them still undiscovered.

Animals



Birds

Exaequatio ranks third on the list of countries with the most number of distinct bird species, having 1622 identified species, including over 70 species of parrots alone. It has 191 endemic birds. The variety of types of birds is vast as well, and include birds ranging from brightly colored parrots, toucans, and trogons to flamingos, ducks, vultures, hawks, eagles, owls, swans, and hummingbirds. There are also species of penguins that have been found in Exaequatio. According to the Conservation International, a total of 771 different bird species are found collectively on the three major islands. 146 of them are endemic to the region. Another 650 bird species can be found in Mokupuni, of which 265 species are endemic. Among the 235 genera represented, 26 of them are endemic. 16 genera are restricted to Mokupuni and its surrounding islands (including Maui).

The birds-of-paradise are found in Mokupuni and its satellites, with a few in Maui. The family has 41 species in 14 genera. The members of this family are perhaps best known for the plumage of the males of the sexually dimorphic species (the majority), in particular the highly elongated and elaborate feathers extending from the beak, wings, tail or head. For the most part they are confined to dense rainforest habitat. The diet of all species is dominated by fruit and to a lesser extent arthropods. The birds-of-paradise have a variety of breeding systems, ranging from monogamy to lek-type polygamy.

Exaequatio has several megafaunal predatory birds, including Kelenken and Brontornis, flightless terror birds which feeds on a large mammals. The national animal of Exaequatio is the hyacinth macaw, the largest flying species of parrot.

Mammals

The wild canids found in Exaequatio are the maned wolf, bush dog, hoary fox, short-eared dog, crab-eating fox and pampas fox. The felines found in Exaequatio are the jaguar, the puma, the margay, the oncilla, and the jaguarundi. Other notable animals include the giant anteater, several varieties of sloths and armadillos, coati, giant river otter, tapir, peccaries, marsh deer, Pampas deer, and capybara (the world's largest existing rodent). There are around 75 primate species, including the howler monkey, the capuchin monkey, the squirrel monkey, the marmoset, and the tamarin.

Mokupuni and Maui have no endemic or native species of mammals with the exception of marine fairing species including the bottlenose dolphin and Hawaiian monk seal. However, Mālama Laule‘a has a total of 81 mammal species, of which 13 are endemic to the island. The majority of the species are small, and are also found in Exaequation mainland rainforests, including the short-eared dog, crab-eating fox and pampas fox. Endemic species include the fossa, Hawaiian hoary bat, and Hawaiian Monk seal.

Reptiles

Exaequatio is home to the anaconda, frequently described, controversially, as the largest snake on the planet. This water boa has been measured up to 30 feet (9.1 m) long, but historical reports note that native peoples and early European explorers claim anacondas from 50 to 100 feet (30 m) long.

The Exaequation islands have many different species reptiles. There are 3 different species of Hard-Shelled Sea Turtles such as the Loggerhead, which on average is 2.3 m (7.5 ft) long and 540 kg (1190 lb.). They are found in the open oceans and coastal waters. Another is the Green Sea Turtle which on average is 1.5 m (5 m) and can weigh up to 100 kg (220 lb.). Green Sea Turtles migrates across open seas but are primarily found in shallow coastal waters and nest and breed on the islands. The third type of hard-shelled Sea Turtle that can be found on the islands include the Hawksbill Turtle. This sea turtle is only about 1 m (3.3 ft) and does not exceed 50 kg (110 lb.), and they are usually found near coral reefs or rocky areas of the sea. The Leatherback Sea Turtle is also found in the island waters, growing up to 2 m (6.6 ft) and over 800 kg (1764 lb.). 5 species of Mud and Musk Turtles are found in the fresh water bodies, 2 species of turtles live primarily on land, and numerous aquatic species including the Central American river turtle and Snapping Turtles.

The islands are home to many different tropical snake species, however are limited to nonvenomous snakes. The islands are also home to two-thirds of the world's chameleon species, including the smallest known species. There are 8 species of geckos that inhabit the islands. They are usually a length of 5–10 cm (2–4 in), not including the tail. All eight species are endemic, including the Island Leaf-Toed Gecko, day gecko, and Caribbean Dwarf Gecko.

Mālama Laule‘a is unique in that it contains the last living theropod dinosaurs, Compsognathus longipes. It is a species of small, bipedal, carnivorous theropod dinosaurs growing to about the size of a turkey. Paleontological remains show that they lived in Exaequatio, but died out about 150 million years ago. When Mālama Laule‘a and the other islands split from the main continent, they continued to survive and flourish, especially without any mammalian and large predatory bird species as competition. They feed on small animals such as lizards and rodents.

Fish & Amphibians

The Libertà River flows directly through the Exaequatio National Rainforest and contains an equally diverse aquatic ecosystem. The river has some 1,000 tributaries which support numerous fish including hatchet fish, tetra, pacu, piranha, plecostomus, corydoras, catfish, arowana, discus, and many more.

Exaequatio has over 3,000 identified species of freshwater fish and over 500 species of amphibians. The majority of the freshwater fish species are characiforms (tetras and allies) and siluriforms (catfish), but there are also many species from other groups such as the cyprinodontiforms and cichlids. While the majority of Exaequatio's fish species are native to the Liberty and National River basins, the country also has an unusually high number of troglobitic fish, with 25 species (15% of the total in the world) known so far. One of the most well-known fish is the piranha.

There are many species of salamanders, toads, and frogs found in the tropical forests of the islands, such as the Rufescent Salamander, Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Maya Rain Frog, Marine Toad, and Mexican Burrowing Toad. Out of 450 different species of salamanders found in the world, only 6 different types are found in Mokupuni, all of which belong to the Family Plethodontidae group. This group of salamanders are the lungless salamanders, meaning they do not breath through lungs, but instead through the pores of their moist skin. There are 3 different species of toads living in Mokupuni, out of more than 300 species. The largest known toad can be found in Mokupuni, the Marine Toad. It can grow up to 20 cm (8 in), and weight as much as 1.2 kg (2.5 lb.). These toads are more commonly found in human settlements rather than wildlife, so they are easily seen by tourists. They have adapted to human settlements, so they will eat cat or dog food left out for house pets.

There are more than 800 species of rain frogs that exist, and 8 of them are found on the collective islands. They vary in size, from the Maya Rain Frog which is about 2.5-3.5 cm (1 in), to the Central American Rain Frog which can be 9 cm (3.5 in) long. Rain frogs are usually terrestrial, so they can be found on the forest floors, in or near pools, ponds, and streams. They are different from tree frogs in their color; usually having more earth tones with dark markings on their backs and legs. Out of more than 700 species of tree frogs, 12 of them can be found on the islands. Unlike rain frogs, they have more bright colors such as orange, blue, red and yellow to warn predators that they are poisonous. Tree Frogs, like their name, are most commonly found in trees. Despite their skinny legs, the are very good jumpers and climbers.

The fish species of the islands inhabit Makupuni, Maui, Mālama Laule‘a, and the other islands of both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans Due to the islands marine semi-isolation, about 30% of the fish are endemic. Among the many marine families represented are Pufferfish, Fusiliers, Jackfish, Lionfish, Oriental Sweetlips, reef sharks, Groupers, Eels, Snappers, Bannerfish, Batfish, Humphead Wrasse, Spotted Eagle Rays, Scorpionfish, Lobsters, Nudibranches, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Squirrelfish, Soldierfish, Glassfish, Surgeonfish, Unicornfish, Triggerfish, Napoleon wrasses, and Barracudas.

Due to its isolation, very few endemic freshwater fish species are found in on the islands, and few are entirely restricted to freshwater (many are either anadromous, or also found in brackish and marine water in their adult stage). Some native fish species regularly seen in fresh water are the flagtails, the mullet Mugil cephalus, and various gobies, notably Awaous guamensis, Lentipes concolor, Sicyopterus stimpsoni for their famous ability to climb waterfalls to reach higher sections of freshwater streams.

Several other species have been introduced to the freshwater habitats.

Invertebrates

There are 1107 known species of non-marine mollusks living in the wild in Exaequatio. The second largest spider in the world, the Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), can be found in some regions of Exaequatio.

It is calculated that Exaequatio contains over 70,000 species of insects, with some estimates ranging up to 15 million, with more being discovered almost daily. One 1996 report estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 species of insects and spiders in a single hectare of rainforest. About 520 thysanoptera species belonging to six families in 139 genera are found in Exaequatio.

It is unknown how many species the islands and the surrounding oceans collectively support, however it is believed to be in the upper limit of 200,000 species. The reefs alone support over 400 species of molluscs, and 83 species of echinoderms. Many crustacean species are there as well: 120 copepod, 15 amphipod as well as over 145 crab and 48 shrimp species. The reefs also supports many types of hard and soft corals, and sponges.

Due to the island's remoteness, many unique insects have evolved. A notable species Eupithecia orichloris, a species of carnivorous caterpillar. It feeds on various insects instead of relying on plant matter as a food source. This species is endemic to Mokupuni. The islasnds also support an array of gastropods, including the colorful O'ahu tree snail and Auriculella.

Plants


Exaequatio has most known species of plants (55,000), among all the countries in the world. About 30% of species of plants are endemic. The Atlantic Forest region is home to tropical and subtropical moist forests, tropical dry forests, tropical savannas, and mangrove forests. The Pantanal region is a wetland, and home to a known 3,500 species of plants.

The flora consists of many unique varieties of tropical plants. Blessed with a tropical climate and numerous islands, Mokupuni is one of the most biodiverse in the world. The flora reflects an intermingling of South American, Asian, and Australian and the native species. Having the a complete shoreline, Mokupuni and the other islands also have many regions of swamps and coastal vegetation. Combined together, these all give rise to a huge vegetational biodiversity. There are about 28,000 species of flowering plants on the islands, consisting 2500 different kinds of orchids, 6000 traditional medicinal plants used as Jamu., over 350 species of rattan and 400 species of Dipterocarpus, including ebony, sandalwood and teakwood. The islands, like its mainland Exaequatio, are also home to some unusual species such as carnivorous plants, like insect trapping pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.)

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