National Museum entomologist and fly expert swaps Cardiff for Chile in biodiversity trip

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 17 November 2011

A photo of a scientists in an office poised next to a microscope
Dr Adrian Plant is off to Chile for three weeks© Adrian Plant, National Museum Wales
As frosty mornings and dark evenings consume Cardiff, journeys in 4x4s through remote forests in the Chilean Lake District to follow flies, plant bugs and minute insects might sound like a cruel dream to Welshmen.

But for Dr Adrian Plant, of the natural history department at National Museum Cardiff, a trip to Chilean Patagonia will be an exotic reality for the next three weeks as part of scientific biodiversity research.

A photo of a large black and orange fly on a tree
Exotic horseflies lie in wait for the biodiversity team© Adrian Plant, National Museum Wales
The entomologist and fly expert will take part in a sojourn to the temperate rainforests of the Southern Hemisphere in pursuit of creatures from more than 100 million years ago, when South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica – also know as Gondwana – were joined in one huge southern super-continent.

His companions include peers from France's Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle and a professional tree-climber.

"It is a very exciting and challenging expedition," says Plant. "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.

A photo of exotic mountains and countryside under a blue sky
The rainforests of Chile hold answers to global climate questions© Adrian Plant, National Museum 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."
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