Latin America and the Caribbean harbor a tremendous diversity
of plant and animal life, yet conservation efforts in the region are often hampered
by a lack of reliable biological and ecological information. NatureServe works
to protect biological diversity in Latin America and the Caribbean by promoting
the development and use of scientific information and technologies relevant
to the region's pressing conservation needs and limited resources. Central to
this effort is work to enhance in-country capacities for biological inventory,
monitoring, and data management, and to link that capacity with hemispheric
and global efforts to understand and protect species and the habitats on which
they depend. NatureServe's projects and activities in Latin America focus on:
Global Amphibian Assessment
NatureServe is coordinating the Western Hemisphere component
of the Global Amphibian Assessment in partnership with the IUCN Species Survival
Commission, the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force, Conservation International,
and AmphibiaWeb. This project will result in a first-ever comprehensive assessment
of the conservation status of the amphibians of the Americas. Working with an
array of international and local experts, the project will develop detailed
information on current taxonomy, natural history, conservation status, threats,
and detailed distributions. (For a full description, see the Global
Amphibian Assessment website).
NatureServe has developed an online searchable database of
conservation information for all 5,500 birds and mammals of Latin America and
the Caribbean. This website, called InfoNatura,
includes information on taxonomy, national distribution, and conservation status
together with key references. Data on other animal groups, such as amphibians,
will be added in the future.
Bird and Mammal Distribution Mapping
NatureServe is part of a consortium of conservation organizations that have joined forces to develop a digital library of the distributions of the birds and mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Our partners in the development of these data include Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund U.S., and Environment Canada. These data can be downloaded as ArcView files.
Ecological Systems Classification
Due to the overwhelming diversity of species in Latin America, ecosystem units
can play an important role in determining targets of conservation opportunity
in the region. NatureServe and its member programs, with funding from The Nature
Conservancy, have completed a working classification of terrestrial ecological
systems in Latin America and the Caribbean. A summary
report and data are available for the nearly 700 ecological systems that
currently are classified and described. We document applications of these ecological
systems for conservation assessment, ecological inventory, mapping, land management,
and ecological monitoring.
Andes – Amazon Mapping of Ecological Systems and Areas of Endemism With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NatureServe is embarking on a comprehensive mapping and modeling project in Peru and Bolivia. The study area encompasses the eastern slope of the Andes and lowland areas in the Amazon Basin. Special emphasis will be place on the Yungas region of Perú and Bolivia—a mountainous area of high endemism for both plants and animals. Using the latest research tools and methods, NatureServe will model and map the ranges of selected endemic species (birds, mammals, amphibians and plants) with the goal of identifying areas of high conservation value as well as new areas of endemism not yet detected. This project will produce a validated ecological systems map based on recent satellite imagery for the Yungas as well as lowland areas in the Amazon basin using an ecological classification approach recently developed by NatureServe.
Sustainable Conservation Practices in the Guaraní Aquifer of Paraguay
The Secretaría del Ambiente from Paraguay and NatureServe coordinated a joint initiative regarding the implementation of environmental policy in the Guaraní Aquifer region. The final report is available here.
Gap Analysis of Andean Ecoregions
NatureServe is coordinating an assessment of gaps in the protected area systems
for five tropical Andean ecoregions ranging from Colombia to Bolivia. The project
is sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme with funding from the
Global Environment Facility, and involves a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy
and conservation data centers in each country. The project uses satellite imagery
to map key ecological systems in each region, and assess their status and threats.
Based on a variety of biological and socio-economic information, the project
team is identifying priority areas for biodiversity conservation in each ecoregion
and developing landscape management alternatives for the most promising areas.
RANA: Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians
NatureServe is coordinating an international group of tropical scientists to
conduct the most comprehensive assessment ever of the causes of decline in the
populations of frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians in Central and South
America and the Caribbean. The project's goal is to develop a scientific basis
for conservation action by promoting collaborative research and sharing of results,
and by encouraging ongoing monitoring of key sites in order to better understand
the extent and causes of amphibian declines.
While the causes of global amphibian declines are not clearly
known, leading hypotheses include habitat loss, disease, climate change, and
UV-B radiation. RANAthe Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical
Amphibianswill report its findings to the public through a bilingual website
about amphibian declines and through a database on the status of all species
of the New World tropics, developed in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival
Commission. The project is funded by a five-year grant from the National Science
Foundation. See press
Partnerships with International Information Networks NatureServe is actively engaged with a variety of international
networks involved in promoting the development and distribution of biodiversity
information. NatureServe is:
a thematic node under the Convention on Biological Diversity's Clearinghouse
an associate participant in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility,
which seeks to promote open electronic access to key biodiversity information
a node of the North American Biodiversity Information Network, which includes
active in the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network.
a core institutional partner in the IUCN Red List Programme.
Support for National Biodiversity Planning The international Convention on Biological Diversity calls for countries to
prepare National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. Through a project
for the United Nations Development Programme's Biodiversity Planning Support
Programme, with funding provided by the Global Environment Facility, NatureServe
provided support to assist Latin American and Caribbean countries in preparing
their plans. Together with the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust and
the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental, NatureServe worked to create and
foster "communities of practice" among in-country specialists by establishing
communications networks, creating Internet resources, and hosting information-sharing