Biodiversity Exploration for Conservation
The First 20 Years of the Rapid Assessment Program
Edited by Leeanne E. Alonso, Jessica L. Deichmann, Sheila A. McKenna,
Piotr Naskrecki, and Stephen J. Richards
The Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) surveys have been a highly effective conservation tool for Conservation International and a multitude of partners. RAP surveys provide a quick assessment of the biological value of an area and identify species in need of conservation action. This exciting book outlines the inception, history, and achievements of this program during its first two decades, 1990–2010. The editors profile nearly eighty expeditions to some of the most remote but highly threatened sites around the world and relay personal stories from the field. Illustrated with hundreds of photos taken during the RAP surveys, this book includes the first photos of many newly discovered species of animals and plants, and other rarely photographed jewels of terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity.
Leeanne E. Alonois Director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program.
Jessica Deichmann is now a Research Scientist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Sheila A. McKenna is a marine ecologist and senior research scientist with SEAlliance.
Piotr Naskrecki is an entomologist, invertebrate conservationist, and nature writer and photographer, currently with the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.
Stephen Richards is RAP Manager for the Asia-Pacific region, a Research Associate at the South Australian Museum, and a member of the IUCN Amphibian Red-list Authority.
Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) was created in 1990 to address the lack of biological information needed to make quick but sound conservation decisions. RAP deploys teams of international and host-country expert scientists to conduct rapid first-cut assessments of the biological value of selected areas. RAP surveys generally last 3 – 4 weeks. Preliminary results are made available immediately to local and international decision makers through reports and on the Internet. RAP data are then analyzed in tandem with social, economic, and other ecosystem information to develop a comprehensive conservation strategy.
RAP scientists have discovered hundreds of new plant and animal species and provided key biological data on threatened ecosystems around the world. RAP results are applied directly to “on the ground” conservation, such as forming national parks in Bolivia and Perú, developing a protected area strategy for Guyana, and halting illegal oil drilling in a national park in Guatemala.
The three types of RAP surveys include Terrestrial, Freshwater and Marine.
Terrestrial RAP assesses the biological diversity of poorly known terrestrial ecosystems about which information is needed to take conservation action. RAP scientists gather and report data about vegetation, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and select insect groups.
Freshwater RAP (AquaRAP) provides a first-cut assessment of the biological value of freshwater aquatic ecosystems in order to identify priorities and opportunities for conservation. Expert teams of scientists survey fishes, plants, invertebrates, water quality, and amphibians and reptiles.
Marine RAP surveys generate and disseminate information on coastal and near-shore shallow-water marine habitats.
Expedition results are published in the RAP Bulletin of Biodiversity Assessment
, available in print through the University of Chicago Press or on the RAP Results
page and online through the CI Library
. RAP data are made publicly available on the RAP Biodiversity Survey Database, accessible at rap.conservation.org
RAP is located at CI's Main Office:
Rapid Assessment Program
2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22202