Museum science director responds to Paraguay expedition queries

10 November 2010

Natural History Museum Director of Science Richard Lane responds to the recent queries about the Paraguay expedition due to begin next week. 

Facts about the Paraguay 2010 expedition

How many people from the Natural History Museum are taking part?

There are 21 people in the group from the Natural History Museum taking part in the Paraguay expedition.

What kind of specialists are they?

The team includes experts on insects, spiders, plants, lichens, cyanobacteria, mosses, ciliates (microrganisms), worms, molluscs, mammals, fossils.

How many Paraguayan partners are taking part?

There are approximately 41 people from the Paraguayan partners taking part who are experts on landscapes, mammals, birds, plants, hydrology, amphibians and reptiles, insects, spiders and birds.

What are they doing there?  

They are collecting information and specimens that will help scientists understand for the first time the richness and diversity of the animals and plants in this remote region. The expedition hopes that the participation of so many scientists from the UK and Paraguay will raise the profile of this highly threatened landscape and so contribute to its conservation.

What is the main aim of the expedition?  

To explore and record the little-known biodiversity of the Dry Chaco region in Paraguay to generate information that can be used by Governments and conservation groups to better understand how to manage fragile habitats and protect them for future generations.

How long are they going for?  

1 month.

Who are the partners?   

The partners are Guyra Paraguay, Paraguay Ministry of the Environment (includes the Natural History Museum of Paraguay in Asunción) and the Union of Ayoreo Indigenous People of Paraguay (UNAP).

Guyra Paraguay is providing essential logistics for the team. The Paraguay Ministry of Environment and its subsidiary organisation the Natural History Museum in Asunción is providing permits and scientific collaboration. UNAP is providing traditional knowledge support in the field and ensuring that there are no un-contacted peoples in the field sites.

What will happen to all the specimens that are collected?

On this trip, any new discoveries (type specimens), or known species where only one specimen is collected, will be added to the national collections in Paraguay and will help build upon local skills and resources. Once part of a natural history collection they are available to be used by current and future researchers to help understand the changing world around them. Duplicate collections will also be held at Natural History Museum, London where possible.

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