Data as Development Workshop

Tomorrow, May 23, I will be speaking in the workshop Data as Development, organized by Yaso Córdova and Lorrayne Porciuncula from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society of Harvard University.

It will be fun to discuss with data scientists and entrepreneurs about the possibilities of using biodiversity data, and particularly genomic data, for development in biodiversity-rich countries.

Diversity of vascular plants (and bugs and pretty much any other organism) is much higher in the tropics. Image source:  Mutke J et al (2010). European Plant diversity in the global context.

Diversity of vascular plants (and bugs and pretty much any other organism) is much higher in the tropics. Image source: Mutke J et al (2010). European Plant diversity in the global context.

Registration open for climate change conference

I am one of the co-organizers of a conference on Amazonia and Climate Change that will take place at Harvard on May 7-8. Registration is free and open to the public, by clicking here.

Climate change is one of the most important long-term threats for the future of our societies. Solutions are complex, depending not only on engineering and policy, but also on imagination and public will towards alternative forms of inhabiting the planet. Latin America, home to the largest rainforest areas in the world, is both at risk of environmental catastrophe and a key region in which models for thriving bioeconomies based on rainforests can evolve. This symposium will bring together experts and leaders from the US and Latin America to discuss the past, present and future of Amazonia. We will discuss deforestation trends and their interactions with climate and health; how to move beyond our lack of imagination for viable futures, including the importance and role of indigenous peoples of the Amazon; and ongoing and emerging initiatives towards river-flowing, rainforest-based economies across Amazonia.

Ilha do Combu, near Belém, Pará, Brazil, when I visited in 2012

Ilha do Combu, near Belém, Pará, Brazil, when I visited in 2012

Cotithene gorayebi, a new pollinator of cyclanths

Cyclanthaceae is a plant family that kind of looks like palms, but are unrelated. They are generally pollinated by beetles, and many of the species specifically by weevils. One the genera of weevils typically found in these flowers is Cotithene, but all species described to date do not seem to be pollinators, only florivores. They are not very abundant, their behavior does not synchronize with flowering times and they are too big to fit into the small spaces the lead to receptive female flowers. In this paper we describe a new species: Cotithene gorayebi, and also show that it is a pollinator of a cyclanth: Evodianthus funifer. This new species is smaller than other species of Cotithene, very abundant and comes and goes from flowers at the right timing to be a good pollinator.

Individuals of  Cotithene gorayebi  resting in the little spaces between male flowers, where the female flowers are.

Individuals of Cotithene gorayebi resting in the little spaces between male flowers, where the female flowers are.

Paper on licuri palm flower visitors is out

Here we describe the details of interactions between several species of insects and the licuri palm Syagrus coronata. Surprisingly, a very interesting pollination mutualism has been hiding in plain sight: these plants are both pollinated by generalist bees and by specialized beetles. Some of these beetle breed on the same flowers they just pollinated. This is the first one in a series on the evolutionary consequences of insect-plant interactions.

de Medeiros BAS, Núñez-Avellaneda LA, Hernandez AM, Farrell BD. 2019. Flower visitors of the licuri palm ( Syagrus coronata ): brood pollinators coexist with a diverse community of antagonists and mutualists. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi:10.1093/biolinnean/blz008.

Beetle species waiting for male flower opening.

Beetle species waiting for male flower opening.