Press Releases

Flight to Chile for National Museum Wales fly expert

Biodiversity in Wales can not be understood fully without understanding biodiversity in the global context. Further research on biodiversity will be undertaken by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales at the end of the November when its entomologist and fly expert (dipterist) Dr Adrian Plant, from the natural history department at National Museum Cardiff, takes part in a three week scientific expedition to Chilean Patagonia.

Dr Plant will join a team of colleagues from France’s Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle on the expedition which is part of the CAFOTROP (CAnopée des FOrêts TROPicales) Programme, exploring the great temperate rainforests of the Southern Hemisphere and searching particularly for insects that have survived as relicts of a time, more than 100 million years ago when South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica (also know as Gondwana) were joined in one massive southern super-continent. 
Relating the position of these relict insects in their evolutionary trees to the sequence in which Gondwana broke apart and the continents drifted to their present-day positions will help the scientists better understand present-day patterns of biodiversity.
The Team will travel by ship and overland in 4X4 vehicles, exploring many remote forests along the southernmost part of the celebrated Carretera Austral between Puerto Montt and Coihaique in the Chilean Lake District. The party will include other experts on flies, plant bugs and minute insects as well as a professional tree-climber who will help the researchers work safely high in the forest canopy of the luxuriant cool rainforests of the region.
Dr Adrian Plant of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “It is a very exciting and challenging expedition. As well as being able to share my own skills in Chile, the experience will be of great benefit to the Museum. The findings in Chile will further help our understanding of the biodiversity situation in Wales.
“These insects can be used to model the sequence of evolutionary and bio geographic events enabling the researchers to answer some of the questions about why some animals occur in certain places but not others, why biodiversity hotspots develop in some areas and how historical climate change has influenced the variety of life we find in Earth today.”