When biodiversity makes you sick

CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank" />CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank For a group of Italian resea

Juhi Yajnik
Nov 30, 2006
<figcaption>CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank</figcaption>
CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank

For a group of Italian researchers who traveled to Ecuador in July, the damp earth of the Otonga rainforest held the promise of undiscovered species. But unbeknown to them, it was a species discovered long ago that would cause them trouble.

The expedition of zoologists and botanists from Italian museums and universities traveled within Ecuador from the middle of July to the middle of August. They collected soil and plant specimens from murky caves, hunting for species that had never been described by scientists. While in the Otonga rainforest, these scientists stayed at a base camp that frequently hosts teams of researchers. In the mornings, they awoke to find a small colony of bats flying nearby and guano sprinkled on the ground. The researchers spent their days searching in the...