The Year of Biodiversity and Conservation

ies to learn their biology, cultivate plants, and conserve the wild sources."

In the past 25 years, botanist Michael Dillon, Ph.D., Head and Curator of Vascular Plants, has conducted more than 40 expeditions in Neotropical countries, most recently to the high cloud forests of Peru. Dillon catalogs the plants he finds, determines which ones are threatened, and helps educate local citizens and scientists about their natural resources. This is especially important in impoverished countries such as Peru, where mining and population growth are taking a huge toll on biodiversity.

Many equatorial areas have been identified as "conservation hotspots" because of their high concentration of biodiversity. Steve Goodman, Field Biologist in the Department of Zoology, lives and works in one of these hotspots: on the island of Madagascar off the African coast. Madagascar is home to many plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, including the entire primate family of lemurs. Since 1989, Goodman has conducted biological surveys and discovered several new species of birds and mammals on the island. Recently, he co-edited "The Natural History of Madagascar," to be published in November 2003 by The University of Chicago Press.

The traditional detailed museum inventory work has long been important in informing conservation. To augment this, The Field Museum established an office of Environmental and Conservation Programs (ECP) in 1994 to focus education and research on areas urgently in need of conservation. Many Field Museum scientists, including Conservation Ecologists Douglas Stotz, Ph.D., and Robin Foster, Ph.D., are conducting fast-paced biological surveys called Rapid Biological Inventories (RBIs) in Neotropical countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and Peru. The object is to turn scientific data over as quickly as possible to officials directly involved with conservation planning in those countries. As a result, museum research and rapid inv

Contact: Greg Borzo
Field Museum

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