The Year of Biodiversity and Conservation

entories have led to the establishment of several parks and reserves in countries such as Peru, Ecuador, and the Philippines.

One of the most important ECP projects is closer to home in the Lake Calumet region on Chicago's South Side. In 2002, more than 130 scientists from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, including many Field Museum collections staff, conducted the "Calumet Biodiversity Blitz," a rapid inventory of plants and animals in three environmentally significant areas, resulting in the identification of more than 2,200 species. An environmental education program led by ECP reaches more than 900 students and educators in the Calumet region by engaging students in hands-on learning about biodiversity and conservation.


Biodiversity is not just species diversity; it is also genetic diversity. Small populations of species in isolated geographic areas for example, on islands and in fragmented forests may be on their way to becoming new species or harbor key genetic variation that might help species avoid extinction.

To explore genetic diversity, scientists from around the world conduct research in the Field Museum's Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution, a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to genetic analysis and preservation of the world's biodiversity. By analyzing the DNA of plants and animals, researchers are discovering new species, constructing evolutionary "family trees," and identifying threatened populations. For example, biologist Kevin Feldheim, Ph.D., Manager of the Pritzker Laboratory, studies the genetic diversity of lemon shark populations in Brazil, the Bahamas, and the Florida Keys helping to shape a conservation plan for this over-fished coastal shark.

Research on the evolutionary relationships between all species living and extinct helps scientists understand the origins of biodiversity. The Field Museum pl

Contact: Greg Borzo
Field Museum

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