Latin America & the Caribbean
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 regions 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. NatureServes projects and activities in Latin America focus on:
- Species Assessments: Assessing the status, distribution, and needs of species-at-risk in conjunction with conservation data centers, the IUCN Red List Programme, and other experts.
- Ecosystem Assessments: Assessing ecosystems using classification and mapping approaches that allow systems to be compared across national boundaries.
- Conservation Analyses: Producing analyses that meet critical conservation needs, based upon the best available data.
- Developing and supporting in-country capacity for biological information management through the network of conservation data centers and other partners.
- Providing scientific and technological support for regional activities carried out by international conservation organizations and inter-governmental processes.
- Creating technological tools that enhance the ability of scientists and conservationists to better understand and document biodiversity.
Current Projects in Latin America
- Changes in Mangrove Habitat in Baja California Sur from 1986 to 2001
- Andes Amazon Mapping of Ecological Systems and Areas of Endemism
- Global Amphibian Assessment
- InfoNatura Website
- Bird and Mammal Distribution Mapping
- Ecological Systems Classification for Latin America
- Gap Analysis of Andean Ecoregions
- RANA: Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians
- Partnerships with International Information Networks
- Sustainable Conservation Practices in the Guaraní Aquifer of Paraguay
Changes in Mangrove Habitat in Baja California Sur from 1986 to 2001
Andes Amazon Mapping of Ecological Systems and Areas of Endemism
With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NatureServe is conducting a two-year 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, with special emphasis on the Yungas region of Per? and Bolivia?a mountainous area of high endemism for both plants and animals. Using the latest research tools and methods, NatureServe has modeled and mapped 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. Learn more.
Global Amphibian Assessment
The Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA), the first-ever comprehensive status assessment of the worlds 5,918 known amphibian species, is an important contribution to the IUCN Red List Programme. The Global Amphibian Assessment is a collaboration among scientists from IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Conservation International, and NatureServe, with participation by over 600 amphibian experts from more than 60 countries. NatureServe coordinated the Western Hemisphere component of the GAA. Since the first release in 2004, the data have been continually upgraded and revised. The newly updated information is now published in the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as well as on the Global Amphibian Assessment website, which was developed by and is hosted by NatureServe. Learn more about NatureServes participation.
NatureServe has developed an online searchable database of conservation information for more than 8,500 birds, mammals, amphibians and ecosystems of Latin America and the Caribbean. The InfoNatura website is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The database includes information on taxonomy, national distribution, and conservation status, detailed range maps, and photographs of many species.
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 for Latin America
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.
Gap Analysis of Andean Ecoregions
NatureServe coordinated an assessment of gaps in the protected area systems for five tropical Andean ecoregions ranging from Colombia to Bolivia. The project was sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme with funding from the Global Environment Facility, and involved a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and conservation data centers in each country. The project used satellite imagery to map key ecological systems in each region, and assessed their status and threats. Based on a variety of biological and socio-economic information, the project team identified priority areas for biodiversity conservation in each ecoregion and developed landscape management alternatives for the most promising areas. Learn more.
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 projects 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. RANA the Research and Analysis Network for Neotropical Amphibians will 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 release.
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 Diversitys Clearinghouse Mechanism.
- an associate participant in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which seeks to promote open electronic access to key biodiversity information resources.
- a node of the North American Biodiversity Information Network, which includes Mexico.
- active in the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network
- a core institutional partner in the IUCN Red List Programme.
Sustainable Conservation Practices in the Guaran&iagrave; 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 project was funded by The Tinker Foundation and was completed in April 2005. The final report is available.