Roots Of Biodiversity

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Alexandre Antonelli references the International Plant Names Index to identify specimens.
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Our practice was born in Costa Rica, so we sometimes may appear partisan when it comes to celebrating the sciences related to biodiversity. Costa Rica has impressive credentials in that realm, especially relative to its size as a country. But we are very clear on the fact that it would take dozens of Costa Rica-sized biodiversity hotspots to match the scale of the Amazon region, and it is no surprise that studies like those of these scholars are carried out with Amazonian data:

The Amazon as engine of diverse life

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“Most evolutionary research focuses on how new species form. But we want to understand how whole ecosystems evolve,” said Alexandre Antonelli.
 Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

A recent study says that many of the plants and animals that call Latin America home may have had their roots in the Amazon region.

The study, co-authored by Harvard Visiting Scholar Alexandre Antonelli and an international team of researchers, says that a dynamic process of colonization and speciation led to the formation of the American tropics, which is the most species-rich region on the planet. The study is described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We were astonished to detect so much movement across such different environments and over such large distances,” said Antonelli, the study’s lead author. “Up until now, these natural dispersal events were assumed to be quite rare. Our results show how crucial these events have been in the formation of tropical America’s unique and outstandingly rich biodiversity.” Continue reading

Oh Amazon, Where Art Thou?

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By The New York Times

It is a heavy read, but now is not the time to shrink away from the tough news. Something can be done, and something must be done. Soon. Thanks to the New York Times for the reporting on this topic:

Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back

A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement captured the world’s imagination, Cargill and other food giants are pushing deeper into the wilderness. Continue reading

Shoutout To Tyler Gage & His Runa Crew

RunaLast time I spoke with Tyler, he was just a couple years into his startup. He and I both participated in a program to share our experiences in the form of a live case study shared with social entrepreneurship students at Brown University, which inspired me for quite some time. Still does. Tyler was kind enough to contribute on this site back when he had time. Look at him now. Wow. This story in Scientific American is worth the read:

Can Tea Help Save the Amazon?

An effort in Ecuador might point the way to a more sustainable future for the rainforest and people

Continue reading