Global Patterns of Biodiversity & Protection
Questions about why species occur where they do have long fascinated scientists. Is it climate, history, some unknown factor? It also has important consequences for applied conservation. Knowledge of where biodiversity concentrates, and what leads to species diversity, is crucial for guiding conservation planning.
Understanding the patterns of diversity and their causes has become more pressing with the current extinction crisis. From birds to mammals, invasive plants to ants, I've had a long-term research program into patterns of biodiversity and how that knowledge can inform conservation. The tools are varied, from global climate models to remote sensing technologies. Recent results include,
1) Global Patterns of Terrestrial Vertebrate Diversity and Conservation, published in PNAS. GIS format results from this paper are downloadable at the link below. The ZIP file contains GeoTIFF files of the results in figures 1, 2, and 5 of the paper. Data have a 10km horizontal resolution and use a Cylindrical Equal Area projection. GeoTIFFs embed this information and are readable by most GIS software. Download GIS data.
3) Global map the world's ant diversity, published in Diversity and Distributions.
The Loreto region of Peru is among the most biologically diverse places on the planet, is home to a wide variety of indigenous peoples, and is mostly intact Amazonian forests. In collaboration with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Peruvian organization Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), the Sustainable Loreto project aims to secure a sustainable future for the biodiversity and people of Loreto. This truly interdisciplinary effort involves biologists, GIS experts, legal experts and others, all joined in an effort to chart a positive future for this largely undeveloped region.
Oil, Conservation, and the Western Amazon
The Western Amazon is one of the most diverse areas in the world, both biologically and ethnically. It is an astounding, and mostly unknown, part of the planet. Oil and gas development though, combined with massive plans for transportation and energy infrastructure, are major threats to the biodiversity and peoples living there. Through an interdisciplinary study of biodiversity, environmental and development policy, and remote sensing, this research program aims to understand and help eliminate threats to the Western Amazon.
Recent papers from this research include:
Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. PLoS ONE.
Oil & Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, & Indigenous Peoples.PLoS ONE
More information , including downloadable datasets, can be found at http://westernamazon.org
Brazilian Atlantic Forest
The Brazilian Atlantic Forest, or Mata Atlântica as it is known locally, is one of the world's great biodiversity hotspots. It is a place of exceptional levels of endemism but also habitat loss, creating a center of species extinctions.
For more then ten years, I have been active in research, conservation, and teaching in the Atlantic Forest. Using a mix of species distribution modeling, primarily of birds, and knowledge from conservation groups in the region, my colleagues and I have identified several priority areas for expansion of protected areas. Much of my research activity is centered in Rio de Janeiro, home to more endangered birds than any other place in the continental Americas. OK, it also has fabulous beaches, great parties, and is generally an amazing place, but that's just coincidence.