Tropical Biodiversity Ecologists
Dan Janzen is an evolutionary ecologist, naturalist, and biodiversity conservationist, and Dimaura Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. For 57 years he has spent much of his time doing field research in Costa Rica, and since 1985 he and his wife, fellow tropical ecologist Winnie Hallwachs, have been among the founders and Technical Advisors to Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG). ACG, 2% of Costa Rica and the size of New York City and all its suburbs, is the oldest, largest and most successful tropical ecosystem restoration project in the world. It is located just south of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border and contains 650,000+ multicellular species, a conserved wildland all managed and strategized by resident Costa Ricans. In 2004, Dan and Winnie were inspired to massively apply DNA barcoding to thousands of species of ACG inventoried moths and butterflies, caterpillar parasitoids, and caterpillar food plants, thereby complicating, multiplying and clarifying our “now realized superficial” appreciation of tropical biodiversity. This ongoing inspiration was only possible with the full-scale enthusiastic use of ACG biodiversity as a “laboratory rat” by Paul Hebert and hundreds of team members in developing the ongoing Biodiversity Institute of Ontario’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and its BOLD information management and analysis web site for this massive biodiversity exploration. Now, this ACG-based effort (termed “BioAlfa”) is probing the concept of Costa Rica DNA barcoding itself so as to generate the world’s first bioliterate tropical country.