Our Páramo paper has now also been featured on radio programs in Italy and the United States and a newspaper article in Chile.
Our paper on Páramo diversification has been featured in the Colombian magazine Semana….
The 7th of November issue of the New York Times included an article by Carl Zimmer that focused on our recent paper on Páramo diversification. You can read the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/science/high-above-sea-level-evolutionary-hot-spots.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=0.
The Neotropics is the most species-rich region on Earth. The Network for Neotropical Biogeography was established to encourage interaction amongst scientists from multiple disciplines to help us to try to understand the mechanisms underlying the historical assembly and evolution of this extreme biodiversity. The third meeting of the Network will take place at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia on the 9th and 10th of January 2014. Information about the meeting including confirmed speakers and field expeditions can be found at nnb3.uniandes.edu.co/.
We hope to welcome a diverse array of scientists to Bogotá.
We have had an article published in The Scotsman newspaper highlighting the importance of our reseach in Colombia. The online version of the article is here…
The high altitude Páramo ecosystems of Northwest South and Central America cover very small areas geographically but are packed with species, 3500 in a total area that is half that of Scotland that only has 1000 species. This region has been the subject of studies by rbgeColombia collaborator Santiago Madriñán of the University of the Andes. Together with Andrés Cortés, now studying for a PhD at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, we have recently published a paper that determines that this ecosystem is the fastest evolving biodiversity hotspot on earth. Species evolve over shorter periods in Páramo than in other hotspots. Despite it being located in the tropics the fact that it is found in the high Andes means that it experiences extremely cold night time temperatures that also make it the coolest hotspot on earth. We hope that our work will demonstrate the importance of Páramo, not only from the point of view of evolutionary studies, but also because this ecosystem provides valuable services as it harbours many of the reservoirs that provide water for cities throughout the Andean region. The ecosystem is threatened by climate change, mining activity and agricultural expansion. In the face of increasing temperatures plants have three options, to adapt to the changes, to migrate or to go extinct. Our work demonstrates that their capacity to adapt is low. Whether they can migrate fast enough to survive seems unlikely and, being high alpine plants, they have only a limited area into which they can migrate.
The paper can be found in the journal Frontiers in Genetics at http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fgene.2013.00192/abstract
Laguna de San Rafael, Parque Nacional Natural Puracé, Cauca, Colombia. Photo: María Camila Gómez-Gutiérrez.
rbgeColombia team member María Camila Gómez-Gutiérrez continues to study this region by determining in more detail how populations of species in the sedge genus Oreobolus and a genus in the Melastomataceae family, Castratella, may have been affected by climate changes over the course of the last two million years.
Through our work we aim to highlight the plight of the Páramo and other unique and valuable ecosystems.
Parque Nacional Natural Sumapaz, Cundinamarca, Colombia. Photo: María Camila Gómez-Gutiérrez.
In June we flew to the Colombian Pacific Coastal department of Chocó to search for representatives of RBGE focus families Sapotaceae, Gesneriaceae, Zingiberaceae and Begoniaceae. The team comprised students from Universidad Distrital: Dayana Sanchez, Alejandra Chaparro and Miriam Reina and we were hosted by the Pacific Botanic Garden (jardinbotanicodelpacifico.org) that is located a short boat ride from the town of Bahia Solano. The short trip allowed us to assess the vegetation and collect in the Nature Reserve that has been created by the Botanic Garden. Gesneriaceae were particularly rich with close to 20 species collected aided by our Embera guide Antonio whose phenomenal knowledge of the local flora made our job much easier.
Drymonia sp. (Gesneriaceae)
The bay is famous as a breeding site for whales although we arrived just before they did so were unable to see them. The Chocó is the second wettest place on earth and during our stay we experienced some extremely violent and spectacular thunderstorms one of which kept us awake for pretty much an entire night!
Collecting along the river.
Miriam with technical assistant.
A mangrove resident.
RBGE continues to explore poorly studied regions in Colombia to enhance our knowledge of the most biodiverse places on earth.
Check out the link below…
Some photos from this years installment of Colombian delights. This year Maca and Eugenio got roped in to talk about their research. Eugenio described the cloud forests that can contain as many as 2000 species in a five kilometre radius around certain points of the Andes mountains. He also described the grasslands of the llanos.
Ann talked of the indigenous culture. Eighty different tribes are found within Colombia’s borders.
Khantara provided the music. Songs from different regions of Colombia.
Photo: Hon W Yau.
The crowd participated in our human chagra recreation. The creation of the Amazonian indigenous garden involves forest clearing, planting, harvesting and eventually replacement of cultivated plants by those from the original forest so that the area returns to its original state.
Maca and Maria looked after the Páramo mural
Lorna (http://www.tagua-designs.com) was busy helping to make jewellery…
…and later 120 people enjoyed the European premier of Apaporis in RBGE’s new lecture theatre introduced by Director Antonio Dorado and Maca.
All photos Suzanne Harris except otherwise indicated.
On the 26th and 27th of July we attended The Wickerman Festival in the second of our tours of Scottish rock festivals. The message was the same as for our earlier visit to Rockness, to divulge information on the environmental and social consequences of illicit coca cultivation in Colombia and to discuss our research there. The event benefited again from the assistance of Talking Science’s Simon Duffy. We distributed 1000 leaflets with key facts related to the environmental impact of coca cultivation and we gave out free coffee and samples of arequipe and bocadillo to festival goers. Our message was therefore made available to the 18,000 people that attended the festival.
Photo: Suzanne Harris
We aim to continue our efforts to reach key target audiences that will help to reduce the demand for products whose production results in biodiversity loss.
This work was the result of a team of student and RBGE volunteers including Suzanne Harris, Ariana Harris, Eva Harris, Eugenio Valderrama, Javier Luna, James Neville and Mandy Mills. These individuals gave their time freely and worked extremely hard to deliver this event. We thank all of them for their efforts. We were kind of busy so we did not manage to see many of the acts on show but we did see the simply awesome…….
…..Chic. Yowsa yowsa yowsa!!!!!
Chic were photographed and enjoyed by Eugenio Valderrama.
…..and Anthar Kharana (ably assisted by Suzanne) was with us again providing music tent side. Anthar’s continued support is vital to our attempts to bring science and culture together. Special thanks go out to him.
Photo: Louise Logan.