Posts tagged: birds

Old biologists never die, they just develop DNA scanners

near Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste, Costa Rica; photo by David W. Smith

Ray Beise of Pura Jungla sent me a link to a great interview with Daniel Janzen, the pioneering conservationist who helped create the 300,000-acre Area de ConservaciĆ³n Guanacaste and proved that denuded tropical forests can be brought back from the brink.

In Yale’s Environment 360 magazine, Janzen is interviewed by Caroline Fraser, author of Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution.

Now 71, Janzen is currently working on a hand-held barcorder device designed to quickly identify the world’s organisms (viruses, invertebrates, plants, animals, and birds) by their DNA. This iPhone-type scanner could, says one biologist, “do for biodiversity what the printing press did for literacy.”

Janzen has been one of my heroes since I read Green Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica by William Allen. It’s a book about conservation that reads like a murder mystery, or rather a coming-into-being mystery, describing the hard-won rebirth of tapped-out pastureland and razed forests. It seems to be out of print (with an old copy going for $50 on Amazon), but you can probably get it at the library. You can also read large chunks of Green Phoenix on Google Books.