Global Patterns of Biodiversity & Protection

Where species occur, and the characteristics of species in different regions, has important consequences for conservation. Improving our knowledge of where biodiversity is concentrated will be crucial for guiding conservation planning and preventing future extinctions. From birds to mammals, invasive plants to ants, I've had a long-term interest in 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) The launch of, which shares global maps and data about many of the world's taxa.

2) Global Patterns of Terrestrial Vertebrate Diversity and Conservation, published in PNAS. GIS results are downloadable here. The ZIP file contains GeoTIFF files of the results in figures 1, 2, and 5 of the article. Data have a 10km horizontal resolution and use a Cylindrical Equal Area projection. GeoTIFFs embed this information and are readable by most GIS software. The data are freely available for research and non-commercial use, but please cite the original source and PNAS article.

3) Global assessment of the world's protected areas and progress toward the 2010 Biodiversity Goal (the 10% goal), published in Biological Conservation with related news coverage at Mongabay.

4) Global map the world's ant diversity, published in Diversity and Distributions.

Brazilian Atlantic ForestGolden Lion Tamarin

The Brazilian Atlantic Forest, or Mata Atlântica as it is known in Brazil, 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.

I have been active in research, conservation, and teaching in the Atlantic Forest for more then ten years. Using a mix of species distribution mapping, spatial priority setting methods, and on the ground knowledge from conservation groups in the region, my colleagues and I identified several priority areas for expansion of protected areas. Much of my past activity was centered in Rio de Janeiro, home to more endangered birds than any other place in the continental Americas. I now live next door in São Paulo state, based at the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ), where my focus is on the watersheds of the Cantareira Water Supply System.

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, combined with massive plans for transportation, energy infrastructure, and oil palm, are major threats to the biodiversity and peoples living there. Through an interdisciplinary study of biodiversity, environmental and development policy, this research aims to understand and help reduce threats to the region.

Recent papers include:

Logging Concessions Enable Illegal Logging Crisis in the Peruvian Amazon. Scientific Reports.

Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. PLoS ONE.

Leaving the Oil Under the Amazon: Ecuador's Yasuní-ITT Initiative. Biotropica  (press release).

Oil & Gas Projects in the Western Amazon: Threats to Wilderness, Biodiversity, & Indigenous Peoples. PLoS ONE.

Sustainable Loreto, PeruSustainable Loreto Logo

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 aimed to guide a sustainable future for the biodiversity and people of Loreto. This interdisciplinary effort involved biologists, legal experts and others, joined in an effort to chart a better future for the region.