…to the next Great Adventure! I am soon ready to begin my new project –which will take me back to a certain small & wonderful lump of volcanic rock in the Indian Ocean. I recently got the extremely good news that I will receive three years’ of funding from the Swiss Velux Foundation — so I shall indeed be working on ghosts and time machines in the last remnant rainforests!
The project is based in the group of Rodolfo Dirzo at Stanford University in California, so when I am not in the subtropics, I will hopefully thoroughly enjoy myself in all the natural marvels that the golden state has to offer. Rodolfo also currently hosts Mauro Galetti, another ghost-hunter, and I am sure we will have lots of fun discussing the ecological roles of extinct animals -and how to resurrect at least some of their functions.
Why am I a scientist? One of the shortest, yet most hauntingly beautiful reasons:
“Science is the poetry of reality” –Richard Dawkins
Some years ago, my dear PhD-colleague Chris and I were involved as photographers & general nerds in some conservation awareness-raising programmes on Mauritius. One of the outcomes of this was a user-friendly guide to the native and endemic plants of the island — the guides that had been available up until then focused mainly on garden plants and invasive species! (a.k.a. medicinal plants). The first edition of the book came out some two years ago, and rapidly sold out, despite the fact that as a field guide it would fail miserably: the paper quality was so bad that the slightest shower would dissolve the pages (and obviously you do get showers in a rainforest). I am happy to say that the new edition has improved quite a bit –at least with respect to the paper quality. Now we only need to convince MWF that we should have better binding (right now its glue only), and some kind of lamination of front & back cover. Then we can truly call it a field guide!
As far as I know, this book is not available outside of Mauritius. If any of you should be going to Mauritius and want to prepare for some flora-ramble through the last remnants of native vegetation, you can buy it on site in most book shops, and in fact also at the airport bookshop/kiosk, as far as I know. Otherwise, get in touch with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and get a copy directly from them. Proceeds of the sale go directly to conservation projects on the island – so what are you waiting for?