SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK, COSTA RICA—Biologists must join the fight to save tropical species or face the loss within a generation of the edifice upon which bioscience is built, says an eminent tropical ecologist.

“Many, many scientists don’t understand that if they’re not out there proselytizing for the maintenance, development and actual preservation of the systems they work on, some competitive force is going to take it away from them,” said Daniel Janzen, a professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania who spends six montha a year at a research station here. If they don’t act now, he said, tropical forests will soon disappear, and “the next generation of scientists is not going to have a tropics to do research on.”

Janzen said academics and researchers of this generation represent the last, best hope to save wilderness systems around the world from rapid deforestation. A few politicians, conservationists, naturalists...

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