The Year of Biodiversity and Conservation

ays a major role in the National Science Foundation's new "Assembling the Tree of Life" initiative, an international effort to describe the genealogical relationships of all 1.7 million known species on Earth. Three Field Museum scientists Shannon Hackett, Ph.D.; Petra Sierwald, Ph.D.; and Peter Makovicky, Ph.D. -- are playing key roles in constructing Trees of Life for birds, spiders, and archosaurs, respectively.


Humans play a vital role in the future of biodiversity on Earth. "Like all other species, humans are part of the system," says Bates, "We can do a lot to help maintain biodiversity in our own communities."

Field Museum scientists are working closely with local citizens, scientists, and government officials to pass on scientific knowledge and help them manage their own natural resources. In the Chicago area, dozens of graduate students from local universities -- including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are learning the tools and techniques of biodiversity research by working on their own projects under the guidance of Field Museum scientists.

Others are committed to working with students in the countries where they conduct fieldwork. Bates, who studies the genetic diversity of tropical birds in Africa and South America, is collaborating with Makerere University in Uganda to assist 10 African graduate students in learning techniques to study their local biodiversity. He is also involved with revitalizing two research stations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo so they can regain their status as centers for research and training in the region.

Greg Mueller, Ph.D., Curator of Mycology in the Department of Botany, is training graduate students and working to improve the scientific facilities in Costa Rica, where he conducts biological inventories of mushrooms and fungi. Mueller's r

Contact: Greg Borzo
Field Museum

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