Over the last 40 years, Hallwachs and Daniel Janzen(her husband and scientific partner at the University of Pennsylvania) have worked on tropical forest restoration, and on the conservation of the biodiversity of Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), in northwestern Costa Rica. A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, its 420,000 acres contain over 650,000 species (2.6% of total global biodiversity), and are home to wild parrots and peccaries, boas and ocelots, migrant birds from North and South America, and intimidatingly many insects. ACG extends from the marine sector on the Pacific Ocean through the coastal dry forest, over cloud forest and its volcanoes, down to Atlantic rainforest. Since 2004, Hallwachs, Janzen, and their collaborators have been global leaders in the use of DNA barcoding, an innovative DNA-based technology for species identification and discovery, to create a library of all of ACG’s species. They have identified thousands of new species among the more than 43,000 ACG species sequenced to date.
In1997, Hallwachs co-founded the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund (GDFCF). A US-based non-profit organization, GDFCF’s mission is to promote “the long-term survival of ecosystems and biodiversity of ACG through conservation, education, science-based management and biodiversity development.” For example, ACG parataxonomists, resident, field-based, biodiversity inventory specialists, are largely on-the-job trained out of the Costa Rican rural work-force. They make a career providing specimens and their natural history information to the scientific community and a multitude of users across society. Trained, funded, guided and mentored by Winnie and the GDFCF team, parataxonomists and their work embody GDFCF’s mission.
Learn more about Dr. Hallwachs on her new Wikipedia page and then come and hear her speak at the December 7thlecture.