TROPINET, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2001


International Conference on Tropical Ecosystems:

Structure, Diversity and Human Welfare

15 - 18 July 2001, Bangalore, India

The conference is being organized and hosted by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore, and co-hosted by leading national scientific institutions and organizations including the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, IUSSI-Indian Chapter, Bangalore, and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. The Conference is scheduled to coincide with the annual meeting of Association for Tropical Biology (ATB). The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) will cosponsor the meeting.

The conference will address three major theme areas: 1) Global change and tropical forest ecosystems; 2) Tropical forests structure, diversity and function, and; 3) Biodiversity hot spots. Each of these theme areas will comprise several symposia, including invited talks, contributed papers and posters. Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, Dr. Michael Donoghue, Dr. Madhav Gadgil and Dr. Nalini Nadkarni have agreed to give the keynote talks. Other invited speakers include: John Terborgh, Fakhri Bazzaz, Shahid Naeem, Richard Primack, Gordon Frankie, Robin Chazdon, Sam McNaughton, Joe Wright, Rick Condit, John Kress, Gary Hartshorn, Oswald Sala, R. Sukumar, Ranjit Daniels, Julie Denslow, Jack Ewel, Ted Flemming, David Pearson, Gordon Frankie, Ricardo Godoy and Kanchan Chopra. For more information, see the Registration Web Site: <<>>.



Tropical Biologists in Working Forests and Midlife Crises

Francis E. "Jack" Putz, Department of Botany, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. Email: <fep@botany>

As we accumulate knowledge about maintenance of rare species, diffuse coevolution, and the like, rates of deforestation in the tropics remain alarming. Easy to say; harder to do something about. It is even hard to contemplate options in the din of arguments between "working forest" conservationists and pure preservationists. I keep reminding myself that ultimately the preservationists are right; we need to draw a line in the "A" horizon and keep the people out if we want to maintain the rare species and rarer interactions that we have been studying. But back in the real world, some tropical biologists perhaps a growing number are forsaking the confines of presumably pristine parks and other preserves to confront more directly the menace of ecosystem abuse in the tropics.

Given that there is nature outside of preserves worth protecting and that there are compatibilities between preservation and other approaches to conservation that warrant seeking, working forest conservationists venture forth into the semi-natural. Some even argue that for many forests, the best we can hope for is "conservation with a chainsaw," an option that is not always that bleak, at least according to our recent review of the literature on biodiversity impacts of tropical forestry. The review can be downloaded by clicking on "Forest Management" at <<>>.

Although large protected areas will always represent the first line of defense against the onslaught of the Homogeocene, even in the midst of chainsaw noise and diesel fumes, there is nature worth protecting. It is towards these less-than-pristine scenes that the attention of more biologists should be directed. They need to investigate how the multiple and elusive goals of sustainable forest management can be best served. What, for example, are the tradeoffs between carbon sequestration and providing for the regeneration of light-demanding timber species? Is it better to mimic treefall gap dynamics or the more cataclysmic disturbances after which many now harvestable stands regenerated? And where radical stand alternatives are implemented to sustain timber yields, how can wildfires be controlled in a cost-effective manner? One big challenge for biologists is that to address such questions appropriately, one must accommodate some rather strange bedfellows, like loggers, sociologists, shifted cultivators, and economists (not arranged by any measure of strangeness).

Despite the many challenges, tropical forest management practices are improving at a rate unexpected even a few years ago. One source of pressure for better forestry is from European wood markets, coordinated by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). In the USA, demand for certified forest products seems to be increasing, but retailers and customers have yet to use their collective power to influence forest fates. No one should claim that FSC Certified Forests are sustainably managed, but improvements over conventional practices have been substantial. Certainly FSCs principles and criteria, as well as the more detailed guidelines used by its certifiers (e.g., SmartWood), need the improvements that could be offered by informed biologists. With more involvement by biologists on inter-disciplinary certification audit teams and behind-the-scenes helping to develop biologically sound standards of practice, FSC will better serve conservation.

The paucity of biologists doing this sort of applied research on forest frontiers in the tropics may be difficult to correct. How many qualified biologists are willing to travel long bumpy roads to reach the discomforts of most logging areas? If we expect these few hardy biologists to also command the respect of, or better yet, the trust and friendship of loggers, sociologists, and the like, the pool from which we can draw is far smaller. And those of us who call Europe or North America "home" are unlikely to fill the breach because it is difficult to keep doing tropical biology, especially outside of the McTropics. Think how many short-course spawned thesis projects in the tropics have not been followed up in any substantial way by continued research, often for good reason. In my own case, for example, this may be the last field season that my 12-year old daughter will spend willingly in our camp in the Bolivian Amazon. To our mutual surprise, my wife (a Colombian biologist) and I have both been wondering how many more years of schlepping off to the ulus we have in our bones. [Our three-year-old son, in contrast, is thrilled by the prospects of big logging trucks, toucans and splashes in the creek.] Perhaps when our young are fledged, we can resume our tropical biology. Then I will be denying middle age from the other sidebut hope to be mobile and energetic. In the meantime, Florida is going to Hell in a hand-basket and might benefit from the more constant energy of a lapsing tropical biologist.

While I consider becoming more temperate, I have also contemplated why my decades (gulp!) of tropical work so little influenced the fates of forests. I ignore issues related to the quality of my science, but I am willing to evaluate my impact strategy (or lack thereof). It seems to me that it would have helped to have had some clarity early on about my desired impacts, how I intended for them to be achieved, and how they might be measured. Perhaps with the more multi-disciplinary approaches to conservation that are being taught, coupled with requirements by funding agencies for specified impact chains, more applied research will actually be applied and working forests will actually work both in the tropics and here in Florida amongst the pines in lines.

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a non-profit consortium of 58 universities and research institutions from the United States, Latin America and Australia. OTS' mission is to provide leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. OTS is attempting to identify critical research priorities in tropical biology, and to make recommendations as to how it can most effectively address them within its institutional structure. They are interested in obtaining a broad view of what the community of tropical scientists considers to be the cutting-edge issues for the near future. If you are interested in contributing to this forum, they invite a communication from you, long or short, addressing the question: What do you consider to be the greatest research priorities and opportunities in tropical biology for the 21st century?

The answers will be collated and a summary of the responses will be distributed via a web-accessible medium. Please send comments to: David B. Clark, Vice Chair for Research, O.T.S. Research Professor, Department of Biology, U. Missouri-St. Louis and Forest Ecologist, La Selva Biological Station, COSTA RICA. Paper mail: La Selva Biological Station - O.T.S., Interlink 341, Box 02-5635, Miami, FL 33102-5635, USA

Courier mail (UPS, FedEx, DHL): O.T.S., Frente Centro Comercial "Los Colegios"

Moravia, COSTA RICA, Tel: (506) 240-6696


1st International Congress on Marine Science and Technology

April 2001 in Pontevedra (Spain)

For more information, see the web page: << >>.

Building Bridges with Traditional Knowledge

28 May to 3 June 2001 in Honolulu, Hawaii

International Summit Meeting on Issues involving Indigenous Peoples, Conservation, Sustainable Development and Ethnoscience. For additional details on the conference, please refer to the web page, <<>>. Sponsored by the University of Hawaii, Society for Economic Botany, and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology.

81st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists

The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, USA

16-20 June 2001

For additional information regarding the conference, contact Natural Resource Management Division, Continuing Education, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812; or by Fax: (406) 243-2047; or E-mail: <>.

7th International Symposium on the Biogeochemistry of Wetlands

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

17 - 20 June 2001

For more information, see: <<>>.

Society for Conservation Biology 15th Annual Meeting

University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii

29 July - 1 August 2001

The scientific program will consist of a plenary address by Sir Robert May, 7 symposia, approximately 300 contributed oral presentations, two evening poster sessions, and a variety of workshops and discussions. The conference theme is "Ecological Lessons from Islands," and includes such figurative islands as isolated fragments of habitat within altered landscapes. The meeting is co-hosted by the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center (PIERC) of U.S.G.S. Biological Resources, the University of Hawaii, and Hawaii's Secretariat for Conservation Biology. For information visit the conference website at <<>>.

International Conference on Forest Dynamics and Ungulate Herbivory

Davos Congress Center, Davos, Switzerland

3 6 October 2001

1 May is the deadline for abstract submission and early registration. Attendance is limited to 300 participants. For further information about the conference, visit the conference website: <<>>.


The Bee Course 2001

A Workshop for Conservation Biologists, Pollination Ecologists, and other Biologists at Southwestern Research Station (SWRS), Portal, Arizona, 17 27 August 2001. Web: <<>>. THE BEE COURSE is designed primarily for botanists, conservation biologists, pollination ecologists, and other biologists whose research or teaching responsibilities require a greater understanding of bee taxonomy.

The Universidade Federal De Mata Grosso Do Sul (UFMS) Announces the Field Course, "Ecologia do Pantanal"

This intensive, 4-week (mid-September to mid-August) field course has been offered since 1998 by the Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation (UFMS). The main objective is training students to do research in ecology and other related fields. It focuses on the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands, visiting different regions of this ecosystem. Students enroll in one of the three disciplines that compose the course. The language is Portuguese, but it is designed to serve students regardless of nationality or institutional affiliation. Application deadline: 15 June 2001. For detailed information and application procedures see <<>>.

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) announces the following courses:

OTS-12 Ecologia da Floresta Amazônica (4 weeks 5 August to 5 September 2001). This course is offered in conjunction with the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), the Smithsonian Institution and the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Emphasis is on the ecology of flooded and terra firme forests in the region around Manaus in Brazil. The course is designed for Brazilian graduate students and other graduate students who are fluent in Portuguese. Tuition and travel support may be available. Application materials should be requested from and completed applications sent by 18 May 2001 to: Dr. Heraldo Vasconcelos Ecologia Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazônia, CP 478, 69-011-970 Manaus, Amazônas, Brasil. Applications also available at <<>>.

Field courses with the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) TBA is a consortium of European and African universities. OTS and TBA have agreed to initiate collaborative activities by offering a limited exchange of participants. For summer 2001, places will be available for up to two OTS students in each of the three courses offered in East Africa by TBA. Applicants must have completed at least 2 years of their first degree in a biological science by June 2001. Details about the TBA field courses can be found at <<>>.

For more information on all these courses please contact the Organization for Tropical Studies, Box 90630, NC 27708-0630, Tel. (919) 684-5774, Fax (919) 684-5661, Email <>, <<>>.

The Itasca Field Biology Program is offering the course, Tropical Field Ecology from 21 May to 9 June, 2001 in Puerto Rico. This course is open to undergraduate and graduate students. The course will be an exploration of variation in tropic ecosystems along elevational gradients of temperature and moisture, and include a component linking Traditional Ecological Knowledge with current concepts in ecology. The course will be taught in English. Cost including tuition, course material, food and lodging during the course is $2,400. Four upper division credits will be offered through the University of Minnesota Itasca Field Biology Station. For more information go to: <<>> or contact Dr. Bill Gould at <>, (787) 766-5335 ext. 114, <<>>.

Field Course in the Bahamas. The Department of Biology, Georgia Southern University is offering an intensive 2-week field course at the Caribbean Marine Research Center (CMRC) on Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas tentatively set to run from 23 July 6 August 2001. Up to 4 credit hours on semester system. Contact Daniel Gleason, E-mail: <>, Tel: (912) 681-5957 or Steve Vives, E-mail: <>, Tel: (912) 681-5954. For more information see the home page: << Mar Biol/TMB Home Page.html>>.

Study Abroad in Brazil. The University of Georgia and Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco are offering the course, Agriculture and Ecology in Tropical America, 14 - 30 May 2001. For more information contact Drs. Rosa Guedes or Larry West, Department of Crop and Soil Science, the University of Georgia Athens, GA 30602. Tel: (706) 542-0900, Fax: (706) 542-0914, E-mails: <> and <>, OR, Dr. Robert Potter Institute of Ecology The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, Tel: (706) 542-2968, Fax: (706) 542-6040, E-mail: <>. Web Site: <<>>.

BOLFOR Invites Proposals for Research

Proyecto BOLFOR is a sustainable forest management project in Bolivia funded be the U.S. Agency for International Development. BOLFOR is accepting grant proposals up to $10,000/year from graduate students to conduct research in any aspect of tropical forest management in Bolivia. For more information contact: E-mail: <> or visit the BOLFOR web site at <<>>.

THE FORD FOUNDATION has launched a major international graduate fellowships program and a complementary undergraduate initiative to help prepare a new generation of future leaders for the environmental, social, economic, and resource challenges of the 21st century. The $330 million commitment features a new Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP) that will award 350 new graduate fellowships annually, over the next 10 years, to support post-baccalaureate study for Fellows from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Russia. An additional $50 million will support programs that seek to broaden opportunities for undergraduate education in these regions. The graduate fellowships will support up to three years of master's or doctoral study at universities anywhere in the world. Fellows will be selected on the basis of their leadership potential, academic excellence and commitment to community or national development. Further information about the foundation is available on its web site at <<>>.

The Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of scholarships for its 2001 semester and summer programs in Dominica. ITME offers advanced marine ecology and conservation programs in the Dominica, Caribbean. Undergraduate students in biology or environmental sciences with at least one year of college are eligible to apply. Graduate students are welcome. Twelve-week semester programs are offered every Spring and Fall. Six-week summer programs are offered very June-July. Application Deadlines: Summer 2001; apply by 31 May 2001. Fall 2001; apply by 31 August 2001. Contact us for further information at <> or visit <<>>.

Help plant Tropical Cloud Forest. The Cloud Forest School (known locally as the Centro de Educacin Creativa) in Monteverde, Costa Rica has 174 students raising and planting native Cloud Forest trees. Trees will be planted in deforested areas formally occupied by Cloud Forest in the Monteverde area. Through your donation, local children learn more about Cloud Forests (their own backyard), what makes them so special, and how to protect them. For each tree we seek a sponsor willing to donate $10. If you would like to learn how to sponsor trees, look for "Plant a Donation" at the school's website: <<>>.


The World Bank has launched a new external website, in English and Spanish, that provides information on the entire range of about 75 environmental projects and initiatives we currently support in Central America. It can be accessed at <<>>.

Attention Plant Ecologists of the Amazon: I am setting up a listserve to help facilitate plant ecology research going on in the Amazon. I work at the "Reserva Comunal de Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo" in Northeastern Peru, bordering Brazil. I am planning to email information on a regular basis concerning important papers, meetings, ideas etc. on plant ecology research in the Amazon. If you would like to add your email address to the list and hopefully make future contributions, please email me at <>. Thanks. --Randall W. Myster, University of Puerto Rico.

Resource on Seed Dispersal in Kenya: Engel, T. R. 2000. Seed dispersal and forest regeneration in a tropical lowland biocoenosis (Shimba Hills, Kenya). Logos, Berlin. 344 pp. ISBN 3-89722-423-3. Keywords: seed dispersal, fruiting phenology, soil seed bank, seed germination and germination tests, gut passage, safe sites, forest regeneration. Animals: Viverrids, primates, elephants, rodents, ruminants, suids, fruit bats, birds, reptiles, carnivores, invertebrates including ants and dung beetles. For more information, book order or free download (viewable with Adobe Acrobat Reader) see: <<>>.

Tropical Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts by Patrick Osborne is a completely new textbook that covers all tropical ecosystems, many of which are given scant treatment in basic ecology texts. Provides a comprehensive guide to the major tropical biomes and is unique in its balanced coverage of both aquatic and terrestrial systems, and its international scope. Tropical Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts is available in paperback, priced at 24.95. For information, please email <> or visit the publishers website at <<>>.

BFREE (Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education) is pleased to announce its new Web site available at <<>>. The site contains information about BFREE, its educational programs, research opportunities, internships, and a myriad of maps and photos depicting BFREE's facility and the adjacent Bladen Nature Reserve of Southern Belize. Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE), P.O. Box 129, Punta Gorda, Belize, Central America, Tel: 011 (501) 612065, <>.

Wildlife Biologists: <<>>. This is a list of suppliers offering wildlife biology and wildlife management supplies, tools, products, field gear and other products of interest to wildlife biologists. This includes wildlife books and field guides, live traps, mist nets, wildlife marking supplies, radio telemetry equipment, taxidermy supplies, wildlife calls and devices, and night vision equipment, animal damage control supplies, outdoor gear and hiking equipment, general biology, educational and science supplies, and all miscellaneous related equipment.