Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Amazon Giant, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador
There’s an old Cree Indian prophecy that goes "Only after the last tree has been cut down... Only after the last river has been poisoned… Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." I find these words clever yet profoundly insightful, and more meaningful today than ever. Across the globe, vital ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate, a rate matched only by the speed with which the species inhabiting those systems are falling to extinction. This is particularly true in the Neotropics, where an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals are struggling with the catastrophic consequences of widespread deforestation and pollution. Many of the forests’ secrets elude ecologists, secrets whose answers will be essential if we are to protect the awesome biodiversity they contain. I study Neotropical butterfly ecology, with the hope that I may contribute to a better understanding of these wonderful creatures, and help conserve them in an uncertain future. Follow me during my work and adventures throughout Latin America here!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Party's Over

Sadly, this will be my last entry for this blog. I’m back from Ecuador, getting settled back in here in Gainesville, FL. I spent some time in Canada for Christmas, which was quite a brutal shock from the warm weather in the Amazon. And to think I was feeling the chill in Quito!

As you can see, I am no longer in the Amazon.

I brought my 3,300 butterflies back with me with no snags. They’re all dried and in small envelopes, with the wings folded behind the back, which means that now begins the rather monumental task of spreading them. That involves relaxing the butterflies by injecting water, and then spreading them open on a special board and fixing the wings with pins and small strips of paper. At a rate of about 10 per hour, it’s going to take a while. Fortunately, I had the foresight to identify most of my specimens in the field, so there are relatively few butterflies that I must spread with any urgency.

If I can only make it through the winter, I’m already looking forward to my next field trip… In the meantime, there’s plenty to keep me busy. There are many questions that I’d like to try to answer for Neotropical butterflies – namely, what is the relationship between abundance and distribution. But there are also many other questions, and my hope is that by searching for the answers to those questions I may help build the knowledge base that is crucial to better understand and protect these beautiful animals.

Please visit my Flickr page to see some photos of butterflies and other creatures from the trip:

1 comment:

  1. Geoff! I'm so excited for you! You did some amazing work. Can't wait til you get to publish all your findings.

    By the way, your next trip should be Brazil. Just sayin'.