2014 Highlights: Keller Science Action Center

Our impact has many facets

BIG NUMBERS FOR 2014

803,092 acres of hyperdiverse forests, peatlands, white-sand, and savannas surveyed in eastern Peru, now considered for protection

80,000 people visited Action resources and field guides online

5,728 people trained by Action programs (including scientists, youth, and citizens in Chicago and the Andes-Amazon region)

1,751 species of plants and vertebrates recorded by our team of experts in three weeks in the Peruvian Amazon 

439 institutional partners in Chicago and the Andes-Amazon region

78 new tropical and Chicago region field guides uploaded to web

ANDES-AMAZON REGION

Translating science into action on the ground

2014 was a year of superlatives for the Andes-Amazon program. We explored the largest expanse of white-sand forest in Peru, discovered a new patch of rare savanna grassland, and published our most comprehensive inventory report yet. The conservation impact of our 27 iconic inventories now covers 17 new protected areas in the Andes-Amazon region. Protection in an additional 5 million acres of forest has been strengthened through our rapid inventories.

Our 2014 inventory targets the Tapiche and Blanco watersheds

This region has long been a hotspot of illegal logging. We are working with Peruvian partners to protect the 803,092 acres of diverse forest that will link adjacent conservation landscapes and will give communities in the region long-term access to the natural resources they depend on.

Training the next generation of conservation biologists

In 2014 we graduated 14 rapid inventory trainees in Amazonian Peru, who have begun to carry out their own inventories in the Field Museum model. We also added 78 new field guides to our renovated webpage, for a total of 532 guides (fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org). Our other digital tools—scanned plant specimen and live plant photo databases—provided information to tens of thousands of users, most of them in the underserved tropics.

CHICAGO REGION

Corridor for people and nature in the new Millennium

Museum leadership is shaping the vision that gained strength in 2014, of a swathe of Chicagoland extending from Millennium Park to the end of the lake and beyond, where the goals to improve nature/community/economy come together in the Millennium Reserve. In this working landscape nature thrives and people engage to take care of it: from our Museum Campus, along the south lakefront, on to the industrial Calumet region, and among the black oak savannas of Kankakee.

A new day for Calumet

The industrial hearth at the south end of Lake Michigan harbors great biodiversity, the dunes National Lakeshore, and a new Pullman National Historical Monument. In October we launched the collaborative effort that will connect all this into a National Heritage Area. The Area will highlight Calumet’s tremendous assets and further support our work, which, in 2014, restored 10 acres of wetlands and prairie, built strong community partnerships, and reached 3,000 children through our Youth Conservation Action program.

People in the landscape of the south lakefront

25,000 trees grow in the soil of the new Burnham Wildlife Corridor, planted by 800 multigenerational neighbors from the Pilsen and Bronzeville communities at the “Roots to Routes” event the Action Center spearheaded in May. The landscape will have long-term support, not only from our continued community engagement in the area, but from 30 community “Green Ambassadors,” including two dozen local teens, all trained as environmental and community leaders in 2014.

Conservation corridors: an adaptation to a changing climate

From the fragile ravines of the northern lakefront suburbs to Michigan City’s Trail Creek and many places in between, Action staff worked to help communities prepare for shifting distributions of plants and wildlife. Our ecologists, social scientists, educators, and mapmakers collaborated with land managers, public officials, and community residents to create climate clinics, curriculum upgrades, and plans for connected green spaces across the region.

MADAGASCAR

For more than 25 years The Field Museum has been an active force in conserving the unique and fragile biodiversity of Madagascar, largely through the efforts of MacArthur Field Biologist Steve Goodman. Steve and colleagues in Association Vahatra, a Malagasy NGO, have conducted inventories of more than 400 forest sites, paving the way for more than 1.3 million acres of protected forest in seven national parks. In 2014 the Field Museum-Vahatra team conducted seven biological inventories in five sites on the island nation. The partnership also produced two important reference tools: a guide to the amphibians of Madagascar (the sixth volume in a series on the biological diversity of Madagascar), and the Atlas of Selected Land Vertebrates of Madagascar.