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Tropical Conservation Science, Mongabay.com e-journal

Rhett Butler1 and Alejandro Estrada2
2Estacion de Biología Tropical Los Tuxtlas, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Published: 3 March, 2008

Tropical ecosystems (terrestrial and marine) as a group account for a significant proportion of the Earth's biodiversity. Despite their biological importance, these fragile and geographically restricted ecosystems have been increasingly degraded by human activities and population growth over the past 60-70 years, resulting in the local disappearance of plant and animal populations, and, in some cases, of species. Paralleling this process has been a disappearance of sources of subsistence and ecological services for local inhabitants. Still, what has been lost or is at risk of being lost is largely unknown. In many cases, biological inventories are still incipient and even less information is available about the biogeography, ecology, behavior, and state of conservation of the plant and animal components in these ecosystems.

More recently, the last two decades have seen a surge in studies covering a wide spectrum of topics and approaches in the tropics. Among these topics have been: biological inventories; the documentation of ecological processes and of plant and animal community structuring; the study of traditional use of tropical ecosystems by indigenous and rural people, and assessments of drivers of change in the distribution and presence of tropical ecosystems. A major focus of these important efforts has been the world's tropical forests.

But despite the enormous contribution that tropical ecosystems make to the world's biodiversity, it is notable that only a few major scientific journals are dedicated solely to the tropics, among them
Biotropica and Journal of Tropical Ecology, only one of which publishes conservation-oriented research in one of its issue sections. Other conservation studies are published in journals that not necessarily specialize in the tropics (e.g., Conservation Biology, Ecology, Biological Conservation, Ecological Applications, Landscape Ecology, etc.).

A cursory view of the scientific literature also shows that authors from developed countries predominate in the population of published works. Considering that English is the universal language of science, linguistic barriers may be playing a major role limiting scientists and students from tropical countries in releasing their work to the world's scientific community.

Tropical Conservation Science (TCS), an initiative of Mongabay.com, aims at providing a complementary venue for releasing the results of conservation-oriented research conducted by scientists and conservationists working in the tropics. TCS will publish papers in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese. We hope that this will provide a channel for non-local and local scientists to publish the results of their investigations. A strong editorial board coupled to a peer-review process will ensure the high quality of published papers in TCS.

Tropical Conservation Science is a registered publication in the National Serials Data Program (Library of Congress, Washington, DC). TCS will publish four issues per year. After its 1st year, TCS will request registration in the ISI Web of Knowledge and other database indexing systems.

The Mongaby.com e-journal intends to stimulate publications directed to conservation problems as they relate to the impact of social, economic, sociopolitical, industrial and other drivers on the distribution and conservation of tropical forests and of other tropical ecosystems.  The quarterly e-journal aims to become a forum for setting forth perspectives and analysis of contrasting concepts and data regarding approaches to tropical ecosystem conservation, as well as providing a channel of communication between scientists and the public at large on topics relating to tropical conservation.

Tropical Conservation Science has a multi-country editorial board composed of scientists with a long history of work in various regions in the tropics. Their contribution to the birth of the journal and to its ensuing development attests to their interest in creating a channel of dissemination of information on conservation oriented research in the tropics. A strong editorial board coupled to a peer-review process will ensure the high quality of papers published in TCS.

Manuscripts submitted to TCS can report any aspect of taxonomy, ecology, evolution, behavior, parasitology, epidemiology, and population genetics, among other topics, for both plant and animal communities, as they relate to tropical forest/ecosystem conservation. Manuscripts can also report on social and economic issues related to tropical conservation such as indigenous people, poverty, population growth, ecological footprint, conservation policy, and on relevant scientific, technological, cultural and religious issues, among others. The e-journal also welcomes interdisciplinary papers using the whole range of methods available, modeling, molecular biology, epidemiology, ecology and/or evolutionary theory, among others, to assess/discuss vital conservation issues in the tropics.

The current and first issue of TCS contains five papers. One deals with the conservation problems of tropical rain forests that have been subjected to long-term study in central Amazonia. Another provides, for the first time in the literature, a panoramic view of conservation issues in Belize. A third paper overviews the biogeography of the little known tropical forest in southern Yunnan, China. The fourth paper examines the usefulness of population viability analysis for conservation of primate populations in a highly fragmented landscape in southern Mexico. The fifth paper reports on the effects of human disturbance on populations of a very rare and little known mammal species (the Tree Hyrax) restricted to East Africa. These five papers encompass a broad spectrum of conservation issues in four major geographic regions (South America, Mesoamerica, Southern Asia and Africa) in the tropics.

Tropical Conservation Science invites the global community of scientists, advanced graduate students and conservationists working in the tropics to submit manuscripts for possible publication in future issues of the e-journal.  Further information is available at www.

Reader comments are generally moderated. If you find something inappropriate, please contact Tropical Conservation Science.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other authors or Tropical Conservation Science.

   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

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