TROPINET, Vol. 12, No. 3, September 2001


Libro rojo de las plantas endémicas del Ecuador 2000, edited by R. Valencia, N. Pitman, S. León-Yánez, and P.M. Jørgensen. 2000. Herbario QCA, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito. iv + 489 pp. (Text in Spanish)

Review by Michael Melampy, Biology Dept., Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio 44017

This edited volume on the conservation status of the endemic plant species of Ecuador represents a resource of remarkable value to plant systematists, ecologists and conservationists. The volume makes Ecuador the only country in the tropics to have evaluated the conservation status of its endemic plants and positions Ecuador to make major advances in understanding and conserving its flora. Let us hope that the book stimulates similar efforts in other tropical countries.

The stimulus for this project was the 1997 publication of the IUCN list of the worlds threatened plant species (see Walter and Gillet 1998). Most of the plants on the list were from temperate regions despite the incredible species richness of tropical floras and the high rates of habitat destruction in tropical countries. By adding 3539 species to the 34,000 already on the list, the Ecuador book significantly changes the perception of tropical floras that the IUCN had created. Seventy-four percent of Ecuadors endemic plants are classified as threatened, indicating that the pressures on Ecuadors flora are extraordinary.

The book opens with a brief description of the format used for presenting information on more than 4000 species. This chapter is followed by a discussion of IUCN conservation categories and the criteria used to classify species among these categories. Next is a chapter that summarizes broad patterns revealed by the classification effort; a second such chapter focuses on patterns seen in the endemics of the Galápagos Islands. The bulk of the volume consists of individual species descriptions that are organized according to family. Larger families are introduced by brief analyses of taxonomic problems and peculiarities of distribution. A bibliography is followed by appendices that list the endemic species by Ecuadorian province, by IUCN conservation category, and by Ecuadorian protected area.

Only a few of the books many strengths can be mentioned here. Its contributors are recognized experts with detailed knowledge of the species they treated. They have provided a wealth of information concerning field locations, the availability of herbarium specimens, and conservation status. The editors do a good job of gleaning interesting patterns from the data on individual species. For example, hotspots of endemism are found in unexpected places such as the conjunction of Chimborazo, Bolivar, Cañar, Los Rios, and Guayas provinces. The major threats to the endemic species, i.e. deforestation and, in the case of the Galápagos, invasive species, are succinctly described, and specific suggestions for more effective conservation are made, e.g. the establishment of more protected areas in endemism hotspots.

The major weaknesses of the book derive from its dependence on herbarium data. Conservation classifications were determined using geographic range estimates based on the collection sites of herbarium specimens. Although the use of herbarium data is understandable and clearly necessary, this technique can create problems when herbarium data are scarce. More than 25% of the Ecuadorian endemics are known only from their type specimens. Surmising geographic ranges for these species is largely guesswork given that many parts of Ecuador have not been thoroughly explored from a botanical perspective. The editors acknowledge this problem and provide a reasonable rationale for classifying certain species despite a paucity of data. Another problem concerns the geographically uneven sampling effort represented in herbarium collections. Certain hotspots of endemism, e.g. that in Pichincha province where Quito and several major herbaria are located, may be artifacts of this uneven sampling. Despite these shortcomings, the book provides a solid basis for future research and conservation policy. The editors and contributors are to be congratulated for a major accomplishment.

Literature Cited

Walter, K.S. and H.J. Gillett (eds.). 1998. 1997 IUCN red list of threatened plants. Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. IUCN The World Conservation Union, Gland and Cambridge.


A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maya World: the Lowlands of Mexico, Northern Guatemala, and Belize. Julian C. Lee. 2000. Cornell University Press. 402 pp.

Review by Richard C. Bruce, Department of Biology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, <>.

No one knows more about the herpetofauna of Yucatán than Julian Lee of the University of Miami. Drawing upon his monumental 1996 volume, The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Yucatán Peninsula, Lee has now produced an authoritative, attractive, and updated field guide to the herpetofauna of this fascinating outpost of the Neotropical world. The book should serve as an invaluable reference for English-speaking herpetologists and other students of natural history during visits to the region. It will be especially useful to classes of university students, for whom Belize in particular seems to offer many opportunities for studies in tropical biology.

The essence of a good field guide is that it allows ready identification of species without requiring examination of preserved specimens and the use of taxonomic keys. In his introductory chapter, Lee assures readers that most of the species can be identified correctly from the illustrations, range maps, and descriptions provided, but that a hand lens may be needed for some. He then describes characters used in the identification of amphibians and reptiles, and follows with a section on conservation of these animals. This is succeeded by informative chapters on the environment (physiography, climate, vegetation) of Yucatán and the diversity of habitats utilized by Yucatecan amphibians and reptiles.

Following a brief section on the composition of the herpetofauna, the remainder of the book consists of species accounts. Lee considers the herpetofauna of the region to include 188 species, a few of which are of uncertain status. Each account provides the common (English) and scientific names, followed by brief sections on Identification, Similar Species, Distribution, Natural History, Subspecies (if relevant), and a single Reference. The anuran accounts also include sections on Vocalization and, where applicable, the Tadpole. For a few species there is a Comment section dealing with taxonomic questions or conservation issues. The distribution of each species in Yucatán is mapped. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography, the latter a much condensed (but nonetheless updated) version of the comprehensive bibliography of the 1996 volume.

The field guide incorporates several taxonomic changes since the publication of the authors earlier book. One involves the large and difficult anuran genus Eleutherodactylus. The species recognized as E. rugulosus by Lee in 1996 has been split in the field guide into four Yucatecan species, including E. psephosypharus and E. sandersoni, but with the remaining two referred to only as Species A and Species B. A monographic treatment of the E. rugulosus group by Jonathan Campbell and Jay Savage (2000. Herpetological Monographs 14:186-292) published in the same year as the field guide names these as E. palenque and E. sabrinus, respectively.

The text is accompanied by numerous line drawings illustrating features important for the identification of these animals. Included are drawings of the tadpoles of 25 of the 26 anuran species that have free-living tadpoles (the 10 species of Eleutherodactylus undergo direct development). The drawings, all executed by Lee himself, and for the most part taken directly from the 1996 volume, are of superb quality.

Most of the species are illustrated with color photographs. Many are identical to those of the 1996 volume, but some are new and usually better than the earlier ones. An example is that of the gecko known as the "Turnip Tail" (Thecadactylus rapicauda), wherein the new photograph better illustrates the dorsal pattern and the unique, fatty tail. Curiously, although the plates of color photographs are grouped together near the front of the book, the individual photographs are numbered as figures that continue the sequence from the last line drawing near the end of the volume!

Some of the omissions in the photographic section are unfortunate. It would have been instructive to have color photos of the marked ontogenetic change in color pattern of the snake known as the Mussurana (Clelia clelia), but only a line drawing of the head is provided. Overall, however, A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maya World is a splendid product of Dr. Lees expert knowledge, and provides in a compact format a wealth of information on the herpetofauna of the Yucatán Peninsula.


Tropinet is glad to publish letters from its readers on issues of importance to the tropical biology community. Please make your communications topical and concise, and include your full name, address, and email contact. Address letters to the editor, Lyn Loveless, at <>. Tropinet reserves the right to edit letters for length.

To the Editor: The feature article by Zimmerman in volume 12 (2) of Tropinet was extremely interesting and informative but Zimmerman missed the point when discussing the significance of the Puerto Rico example to other tropical countries. It is unrealistic to expect other countries to follow the same path of development as Puerto Rico. Each country has a different historical, ecological, and socioeconomic context within which its ecosystems develop and its leaders procure food for its citizens. Thus, the development of forests and food procurement strategies of tropical countries will reflect the particular set of conditions of each country.

The Puerto Rico example shows that there is life after deforestation; that tropical forests can recover from conversion to other uses, if given an opportunity; and that there is order to the recovery process. The information gathered in Puerto Rico is useful for assessing the resilience of tropical forests, developing scenarios for forest response to anthropogenic disturbances, guiding research, learning more about tropical forest ecology, and so on. However, the Puerto Rico example, while suited to Puerto Rico, might not be a turn-key model for other tropical countries to follow. --Ariel Lugo, Director, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, P.O. Box 2500, Rio Piedras, P.R. 00935 <>.



The ATB Annual Meeting in Bangalore, India, jointly sponsored by the Association for Tropical Biology and by ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment), was an immense success. The meeting, which was held from 15-18 July 2001, was attended by 450 biologists, and represented the first substantive link between ATB and Asian (especially Indian) tropical biologists. The conference was chaired by Drs. K. N. Ganeshaiah, R.Umi Shaanker, Kamaljit S. Bawa, and G. Joseph.

At the meeting, the ATB council approved the creation of separate positions for the offices of Treasurer and Secretary. Meg Lowman (Marie Selby Botanical Gardens) continued in her position as ATB Treasurer. Liz Losos, of the Center for Tropical Forest Science at the Smithsonian, will become the new ATB Secretary. Ted Fleming (University of Miami) is the current president of ATB, and Nalini Nadkarni (Evergreen State College) was recognized as President-elect of the Association. John Kress (Smithsonian Institution) was appointed to a new 5-year term as Executive Director.

Dr. P.S. Ramakrishnam was elected as an honorary fellow of the association, celebrating his many contributions to tropical biology. And in recognition of her 10+ years as the editor of Tropinet, Beth Braker (Occidental College) received an award for Exceptional Service from the Association during the banquet.

Following the regular ATB meeting, a special one-day workshop session was convened on the topic of "Research Priorities in Tropical Biology." The organizers of the session were Kamal Bawa, Nalini Nadkarni, and Robin Chazdon. This discussion was the start of a process by which ATB will formulate a report on research priorities, incorporating input from members, friends, and various organizations about ongoing directions for tropical research. The workshop was also an outgrowth of efforts by ATB, as a society, to expand its mission to include support not only of tropical research, but also of issues in conservation and development, from a scientific, social, and political perspective over the coming years. More information on the outcomes of this workshop will appear in future issues of Tropinet.


2001 NATURAL AREAS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, 3-6 October 2001. Radisson Resort at the Port, Cape Canaveral, FL USA. See <<>> for conference updates and registration materials.

WILDLIFERS GENETICS WORKSHOP, TUCSON, ARIZONA (Aka DNA for Dummies, i.e. non-geneticist wildlife biologists) Sponsored by the Arizona Chapter of The Wildlife Society, Tucson, AZ. 16-18 October 2001. The purpose of the workshop is to introduce basic concepts and applications of conservation genetics to wildlife biologists and managers. The target participants are wildlife biologists and managers who have little or no knowledge of genetics and/or whose knowledge may be outdated. The goals of the workshop are to provide participants with enough knowledge to: 1) comprehend basic ideas and concepts, 2) understand various applications of genetic analyses to wildlife management and 3) recognize the need for genetic evaluations in decision-making. REGISTRATION: Registration cost will be US$275 for early registration and US$325 after 15 September. Registration forms and further details are available on the AZ-TWS web page: <<>> or you can contact Lisa Haynes e-mail <> or phone (520) 818-2497 to be placed on a contact list. Registration will be limited to 50 participants and pre-registration will be required.

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 2001 TRAINING WORKSHOPS. The National Wetland Research Center and Mid-Continent Mapping Center, in cooperation with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, offer the following workshops this year: 4-6 December: Introduction to Desktop GIS (ArcView) for Naturalists. 5-7 December: Introduction to Wetland Remote Sensing and Mapping. CONTACT: <pat_o'>; WEBSITE: <<>>.


SYMPOSIUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND A NEW SYSTEM OF SOCIETAL VALUES. 3-4 December, Schloss Seggau, Austria. Sponsored by European Network for Sustainable Regional Development, Austrian Association for Agricultural Research and Association for Co-Ordination for the Research on Sustainability in Austria. Please direct your inquiries to Sibylle Braunegg, SUSTAIN, Inffeldgasse 25, A 8010 Graz, Tel: +43-316-873-7465, Fax: +43-316-873-7469. e-mail: <>; Webpage: <<>>.

Global Environmental Change and the Nation State: 2001 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, Berlin, 7-8 December 2001. The Environmental Policy and Global Change Working Group of the German Association for Political Science (DVPW) are sponsoring this meeting. The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The conference will be held in English. Proposals for papers should be sent by e-mail to Frank Biermann at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research <>. Further information can be found at: <<>>. For questions, contact Frank Biermann or Klaus Dingwerth <>.

2nd National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment - Sustainable Communities: Science and Solutions, 6-7 December 2001, Washington, D. C., at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History & Renaissance Washington DC Hotel. Sponsored by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History & The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). For addition information, please go to the NCSE web site at: <<>> or email <> or call (202) 530-5810.


Society for Tropical Ecology - 15th Annual Meeting, 20-23 February 2002, University of Göttingen, Germany. The scientific program will consist of keynote lectures by Nalini Nadkarni (Monteverde cloud forest), Sampurno Bruijnzeel (hydrology of tropical montane forests) and John Proctor (mineral nutrition of tropical rain forests). Main themes of the conference are tropical montane forests, nutrient cycling in tropical ecosystems, and animal-plant-interactions. The meeting is co-hosted by the Center for Biodiversity and Ecology of the University of Göttingen, Germany. For information, visit the conference website at <<>>.

3rd International Conference on Applications of Stable Isotope Techniques to Ecological Studies. Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.A. 29-30 April - 1 May 2002. Conference Web Site: <<>>.

3rd International Canopy Conference, 23-28 June 2002, in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. For more information, see the web site at <<>>.

ISBE 2002: The 9th Biennial Congress of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, 7-12 July 2002, in Montreal, Québec, Canada. The Organizers are Luc-Alain Giraldeau and Don Kramer. For more information, go to the conference web site <<>> or e-mail the organizers at <>.

16th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, co-hosted by the British Ecological Society (Theme: People and Conservation). 14-18 July 2002, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent at Canterbury, Canterbury, UK. Contact: Nigel Leader-Williams, SCB2002 Programme Chair, E-mail: <>, or Andrew Pullin, BES, Email: <>. Conference web site: <<>>.

Association for Tropical Biology 2002 Annual MEETING, 28 July 2 August 2002. Gamboa Resort, Gamboa, Panamá. Chair: S. Joseph Wright.

3rd NORTH AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGICAL CONFERENCE, 24-30 September 2002. Intercontinental Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana. Hosted by Tulane University and by The American Ornithologists Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, the Raptor Research Foundation, and the Society for Canadian Ornithologists/Socit des Ornithologistes du Canada. Conference home page: <<>>.

VIII Latin American Botanical Congress, 13-18 October 2002, Convention Center, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. This meeting is being organized by the Latin American Botanical Association (Asociación Latinoamericana de Botánica-ALB), the Colombian Botanical Association and the National University of Colombia, so far with financial support from the Latin American Botanical Network (RLB). This VIII Congress will celebrate 30 years since the very successful 1st Latin American Botanical Congress. The Organizing Committee is inviting the international botanical community to participate actively in this important gathering. For additional information please contact the Organizing Committee at the following e-mail address: <>.



Association for Tropical Biology 2003 Annual Meeting, 7-10 July 2003, Aberdeen, Scotland, in partnership with the British Ecological Society. Theme: Biotic Interactions in the Tropics. Chair: Michelle Pinard.



RESEARCH ASSISTANTSHIP FOR A MASTERS OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN BIOLOGY. Seeking a masters student to study pollination biology of several related species of Gesneriaceae in tropical America. The field work will take place in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Potential applicants should send enquiries to Dr. James Smith, Professor of Biology, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725.

GALAPAGOS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. The Charles Darwin Foundation is an international NGO dedicated to the conservation of the Galapagos Islands through research, advice to government, training, education, and community participation. CDF, which runs the Research Station in Galapagos, seeks a highly motivated, experience Executive Director. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Further information is posted at <<>>.

TWO POSITIONS AT THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TROPICAL FORESTRY. A position is available as a Cartographic technician, GIS and remote sensing specialist, GS 1371-09, at IITF, USDA Forest Service, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. This is a 1 year temporary position, with potential continuation. We are seeking a GIS and remote sensing specialist to work on landscape-scale studies of vegetation, biodiversity patterns, forest fragmentation, and forest fuel accumulation in Puerto Rico, Idaho, and Alaska. Desired qualifications include an MS degree or equivalent professional experience, experience with PC, Mac, and Unix platforms and with ArcInfo, ArcView, and ERDAS Imagine or other remote sensing software.

A second position is available as Biology science technician, GS 404 05. The technician will assist with a variety of day to day activities involving research projects looking at landscape variation in vegetation and associated properties in Puerto Rico, Idaho, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic. Activities will be 50% field oriented and 50% office/lab work, and may involve collecting field data related to vegetation and soils, entering data, assisting in data analyses, preparation of graphics, assisting in GIS and cartographic work, ordering supplies, assisting in document preparation, and processing plant and soil samples. This is also a 1 year temporary, with potential continuation. Contact: William Gould, Research Ecologist, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, PO Box 25000, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00928-2500. Tel: (787) 766-5335 ext. 114, Fax: (787) 766-6302, E-mail: <>.

The Amazon Conservation Association works to conserve and study biodiversity in the Amazon basin ( We seek applicants who are interested in living and working in Peru. The following positions are available: Project Manager: This permanent position is to manage a large conservation and development project that includes scientific research, land and resource management, educational, training and community development components. We are seeking a professional with excellent organizational and personnel management skills, capable of making a complex operation run smoothly. This person will administer an annual budget of $1 million and manage the work plans and deliverables of a staff of 20+ personnel. Fluency in Spanish and English required. Excellent communication, reporting, managerial, problem-solving and social skills are needed. An interest in biodiversity conservation is essential. Research Coordinator: We are seeking a Ph.D. or M.Sc. with an interest in tropical ecology to coordinate and integrate the activities of a diverse network of scientists. The successful candidate will provide coordination, orientation and logistical assistance. Fluency in Spanish and English required. Good social and organization skills are a must. Other activities include: supervising the research of scholarship students from local universities; training of local staff naturalists in field survey techniques and regular ecological monitoring; maintaining databases on research, monitoring, and geospatial information; organizing seminars and courses. GIS skills an asset. Opportunities and funding for your own research program are available. Forest Manager: This position is to manage a 10,000-hectare Brazil nut concession, including harvesting and processing. Other responsibilities include overseeing a research program on non-timber forest resources. Good business, social and organization skills are a must. Fluency in Spanish and some English required. Interest and experience in forest management required. Send cover letter, résumé and references to: Amazon Conservation Association, 1834 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, DC 20036.

TENURE TRACK ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF CONSERVATION GENETICS, Department of Ecology, Montana State University. Candidates must have a Ph.D. in vertebrate conservation genetics or a closely related field. Post-doctoral experience with a strong publication and grant record is preferred. We seek innovative research that applies molecular methods to fundamental and applied problems in ecology and conservation. Responsibilities include teaching one high-enrollment undergraduate biology course and one graduate course in conservation genetics per year; developing a strong, externally funded research program in genetics at the population level or above; and applying molecular methods to the conservation of vertebrates. Salary commensurate with experience. For full consideration, applications must be received by 20 October 2001. Submit cv, statements of research and teaching interests, and names of three references (with email, phone and postal address) to: Scott Creel, Chair, Conservation Genetics Search Committee, Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, Tel: (406) 994-4548. For information on the department and university, see <<>>. MSU is an EEO/AA employer.



SANDPIPER EQUIPMENT GRANTS PROGRAM. Sandpiper Technologies, Inc. is now accepting Equipment Grant applications for the 2002 field season. The company specializes in electronics for wildlife research and offers free use of its video equipment rental equipment to undergraduate and post graduate students. During the 2001 field season, over 10 students received free use of equipment for a complete field season, and 12 students received $200 cash grants. Equipment discounts to universities are also available. Equipment specifications can be found at: <<>>. HOW TO APPLY: Applications are accepted year-round, but students needing equipment for the spring/summer season should apply by 1 December 2001. Applicants must 1) Describe their project and how they plan to use the equipment, 2) Describe the size of the critter to be studied and the habitat, 3) Specify the length of the field season, and the preferred equipment schedule. DEADLINE: 1 December 2001 for the 2002 field season. Decisions are based on the proposal, field survey schedules and equipment availability. Contact Ann Christensen, Sandpiper Technologies, Inc., 535 W. Yosemite Ave., Manteca, CA 95337. E-mail: <>.

COURSES IN COSTA RICA: Tropical Dendrology course 2002 (two-week intensive international course given since 1993 in English and in Spanish). In English: 11-23 March and 4 June 6 July 2002. In Spanish: 15-27 April 2002. Cost: US$ 1,800.00 (we offer partial fellowships). Course given in four different Life Zones. Introduction to Field Ornithology (two-week intensive international course given in English). 29 July- 10 August 2002. Cost: US$ 1,800.00 (partial fellowships). For both courses, Contact: Dr. Humberto Jiménez Saa, CCT, Apdo. 8-3870-1000, San José, Costa Rica. Fax: (506) 253-4963. Tel: (506) 231-1236 or 291-0862. E-mail: <> ; Website: <<>> >>.


SOFTWARE featured in the Wildlife Society Bulletin can be downloaded from their web site, at <<>>. This includes home range estimators, mark-recapture population estimators, and tools for random selection and habitat analysis. There are also links to other wildlife-related software sites.