The tropics are home to the world's richest and most diverse faunas--what field biologist wouldn't be fascinated by them? Since 1983, I have examined the systematics and biogeography of South American mammals, especially Andean ones, through a long series of research projects involving some 24 months of fieldwork. Early projects focused on Subantarctic and Valdivian Forests (in collaboration with Milton Gallardo, Universidad Austral de Chile). Later ones led me in succession to the Altiplano and yungas of Bolivia (with Nuria Bernal, Colección Boliviana de Fauna), the Western Slope in Peru (with Víctor Pacheco of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and Horacio Zeballos of Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa), and the Eastern Versant, from Cuzco (1999-2001) to Moyabamba (2006) with Paúl Velazco and Yasuní, Ecuador (2011) with Santiago Burneo of PUCE. I have also worked in south-central Amazonia (Rondônia) and Atlantic Forest (Sao Paulo) through the University of Sao Paulo, as well as in the Antilles (Puerto Rico). All of these studies have sought to characterize and relate these regions of endemism in terms of their mammal faunas and to understand their contributions to biological diversification in the tropics.
Lowland rainforest at Yasuní, Ecuador (photo from May 2011)
Check out this slideshow of bats encountered during our last expedition to Ecuador!
This work fosters international collection and training at various scientific levels. It also generates scientific collections and technical articles on the systematics and biogeography of rodents, bats, and marsupials. It served as the focus for a pair of symposia that Leonora P. Costa (Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo) and I organized at the 10th INTERNATIONAL MAMMALOGICAL CONGRESS in Mendoza, Argentina. The symposia (and the edited volume that resulted from it) considered the geologic history of South America and its relationships to other continents, introduced the continent's paleofaunas and the climates that shaped them, and then characterized each of the principal regions of endemism in the Neotropics to understand the development of their modern mammal faunas. This work was published in June 2012 by the University of Chicago Press.
Studies of Neotropical faunas gave rise to my interests in host-parasite coevolution, which are described in greater detail here. Currently, field work contributes to studies of both the mammals and the host-parasite relationship.
A study of biogeographic transitions between Souh America's richest regions of endemism,
Amazonia and the tropical Andes (figure from Upham et al., 2013, BMC Evol. Biol.)
Both fieldwork and study of collections contribute to The Field Museum's Collections of Mammals, which are described at greater length in the linked page, which also includes a link to query the collection database. Information on the collections can also be accessed through MaNIS, VertNet, or GBIF.