Chapter 4. Evolutionary Treasures
An ecological superhighway
A summary of some of the impacts and consequences of the formation of the Isthmus of Panama can been found in this 2008 paper, ‘The Central American land bridge: evolution at work’,ww3es by Dr. Helena Fortunato http://www.schriften.uni-kiel.de/Band%2070/Fortunato_70_56-72.pdf.
For an overview of the history of African rainforests, see Island Africa by Jonathan Kingdom.
For recent estimate as to the number of species on Earth, see this 2011 news piece in Nature, ‘Number of species on Earth tagged at 8.7 million’ https://www.nature.com/news/2011/110823/full/news.2011.498.html.
This 2014 paper ‘Why are there so many species in the tropics?’ by James Brown explores the question of why there is so much biological diversity in the equatorial regions https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320694/
Shore to summit: how rainforest changes with altitude and aspect
Observations in this and the subsequent two sections (Upland rainforest and Land of the frogs) is based on my research travels in Costa Rica during February and March 2016.
On the restricted range endemic bird species occurring in the highlands of Central America, this paper from Juan C. Martínez-Sánchez provides a helpful overview http://www.bio-nica.info/biblioteca/Martinez1995AvianBiogeography1.pdf.
Innovation and biomimicry
The blue morpho and how it has inspired alternatives to pigment-based paints is elaborated further in an article from the Natural History Museum http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/science-news/2014/october/insect-cells-could-create-everlasting-paints.html.
The Smithsonian Institution covers the concept of biomimicry here http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-biomimicry-is-inspiring-human-innovation-17924040/.
An explanation of how glasswing butterfly wings have inspired more efficient solar panels can be found in this 2008 paper from Binetti et al. http://meso.materials.drexel.edu/pubs/Greta_oto_paper.pdf.
How Japan’s bullet trains were made quieter through inspiration from birds is explained in this 2012 Greenbiz article ‘How one engineer's birdwatching made Japan's bullet train better’ https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/10/19/how-one-engineers-birdwatching-made-japans-bullet-train-better.
How nature’s genetic variety sustains us
The estimate that more than 28,000 species of plant are now utilized in medicine comes from Kew and ‘The State of the World’s Plants Report 2017’ https://www.kew.org/about-our-organisation/press-media/press-releases/the-state-of-the-worlds-plants-report-2017.
Hotspots: where wildlife is richest and most threatened
For more on biodiversity hotspots see Conservation International at https://www.conservation.org/How/Pages/Hotspots.aspx.