We propose to perform an urgent biodiversity survey to support the protection of one of the world’s most important and endangered temperate rain forest regions, the Patagonia Valdivian Temperate rainforests of Chile. This area has been under threat due to construction and clear-cutting, and recently from the mega-dam proposal in the Baker and Pascua rivers.
There has been a battle for decades against construction and agriculture in natural areas of Chile, which are destroying its ancient forests (Figures 1, 2). The strongest recent threat is the proposal to build a dam on the Baker and Pascua Rivers. Dam projects can destroy the forests, increase climate change, accelerate the extinction of endemic species like the Chilean deer of this region, and also will forcibly displace hundreds of indigenous and other citizens. The magnitude of the impact is incalculable, as it will drown a substantial area and create an electrical line cut through the forest from the main dam to the north of Chile.
Insects and spiders provide excellent information on overall biodiversity and can be collected without lasting impact to natural systems. Our Berkeley team will undertake streamlined, rapid, cost-effective arthropod collection using a full array of collecting methods, preserving samples, and uploading collection data into the Essig Museum Database (Figures 3, 4). Then, specimens will be sent to collaborators world-wide for identification and molecular studies. Will you help us by making a gift today?
Can you help us get this project off the ground?
Unfortunately, no other funds are available for this effort. To improve the case for regional conservation, we need to collect new data, and analyze and integrate data from our previous Chilean study (Figure 5). The results will have long-term impacts on biology and on management practices in Chile and Argentina. Our collaborators have a proven track record in conducting biodiversity surveys in southern South America and elsewhere, and a demonstrated ability to produce and analyze the resulting data, to mentor trainees, and to interact constructively with conservation authorities. Your support is crucial to meeting the curatorial, research, educational and conservation goals of this project.
We Need to Act Now
Our plan for surveys before the forests are destroyed will create hard data to give the national agencies tools to conserve the forests and impetus to develop alternative energy sources, which the country has. The collected specimens will be initially sorted in Chile, and the remainder sorted at the Essig Museum to provide training to undergraduate students. The specimens will be then preserved at the Essig Museum of Entomology and at the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in Santiago Chile. In addition to their conservation values, the preserved specimens and data will be invaluable to science by forming the basis to study different scenarios for Gondwanan breakup (i.e., the legacy of continental drift).
We have a highly qualified team to do this research, including Berkeley scientists and collaborators from Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Australia, Belgium and England. Our previous surveys have resulted in over 50 publications, many of them describing new Chilean species.
How You Can Help
By supporting Diversity in Patagonia, you will help make this research possible. We need your help to raise a minimum of $2,750 which will be used to purchase the collecting supplies and to subsidize the travel that we need to do for our initial expedition (Figure 6). While we also need laboratory funds and student support for this project, this part plays a critical role for collecting initial specimens that could help preserve the beautiful land of Patagonia.
Please make a gift today to explore Patagonia!