Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs Discuss the Costa Rica BioAlfa Project
November 19, 2021

The iBOL consortium was honoured to host Drs. Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs as they presented the second BIOSCAN: Illuminating Biodiversity webinar, “Nine Malaise Traps in Three Costa Rican Forest Hectares Catch ~40,000 Mostly Undescribed Species of Insects Among 1,521,762+ Specimens in Seven Years: NOW WHAT?” An edited recording of the presentation is available on YouTube, and a PDF transcript of the Q&A resulting from such a thought-provoking presentation is available online.

Dan Janzen discusses the BioAlfa project and its goal of facilitating nationwide bioliteracy in Costa Rica by applying DNA barcoding technologies and data to construct a public biodiversity reference library. He deconstructs the project’s road map – from the collaborators involved in the field, sequencing technologies, and data platforms enabling the effort. BioAlfa is a flagship project for the global BIOSCAN program, led by the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) consortium.

4% of the world’s biodiversity lives on 25% of Costa Rican land. Janzen and biologist/partner Dr. Winnie Hallwachs are dedicated to facilitating the permanent conservation of this biodiversity, making BioAlfa a global example of sustainable, non-damaging use of tropical wildland biodiversity integrated with, and wanted by, its society.

Malaise trap deployed in Suriname as part of the Global Malaise Program
Drs. Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs

Missed the live broadcast? Watch the presentation here:


Note from Dan and Winnie:
We failed in our talk to emphasize that while small classical, effectively pilot projects in barcoding biodiversity can be carried out with small grants and teams, as is traditional by academic biologists, serious BioAlfa for Costa Rica terrestrial or marine, requires securing massive budgets of multiple millions for both the actual laboratory work and the many kinds of subsequent and leading actions. What has been achieved to date is a collage of pilot projects, feasibility demonstrations if you will. We also note that this talk has been conspicuously impoverished at illuminating the administrative structure, funding, and sweat equity backing all of BioAlfa, nationally and internationally, and BioAlfa’s very dependent relationship with iBOL’s BIOSCAN project by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph. All of that is another story unto itself.

Janzen and Hallwachs are co-Founders of Costa Rica’s Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica along with literally thousands of others. Janzen is also DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, a tropical ecologist, and a biodiversity conservationist. They have a combined 109 years of field experience and have written more than 600 scientific papers and books, all focused on the interactions of tropical animals and plants, and, for the past 37 years, on their permanent in-situ conservation as well. Janzen is a world-level authority on the taxonomy and biology of tropical caterpillars, a member of the Costa Rican and US National Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the Crafoord Prize (1984), the Kyoto Prize (1997), BBVA Prize (2012), Blue Planet Prize (2014, with Costa Rica’s INBio) and Honoris Causa of the Universidad de Costa Rica (2021).

Janzen and Hallwachs are also co-architects and co-constructors, along with hundreds of others, of Costa Rica’s former INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad). Janzen is also President of the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund (GDFCF), a US-based NGO dedicated entirely to ACG. Hallwachs is Vice-President of the GDFCF. Both are Technical Advisors for ACG. They are both on iBOL’s Board of Directors.

Learn more about the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund:

Right: An accumulation curve showing seven years of arthropod specimens collected in nine Malaise traps across three hectares of Costa Rican forest, with the corresponding temperatures and rainfall over that span of time.

For more information or if you would like to present a webinar, please contact iBOL’s Communications Team at: media@iBOL.org

This webinar series is hosted by the International Barcode of Life consortium and is part of a new program with the aim of generating discussion, sharing knowledge, and building community. Subjects reflect one or more of BIOSCAN’s research themes: Species Discovery, Species Interactions, Species Dynamics. Talks could feature fascinating field research sites, novel use of DNA technologies, use or generation of biodiversity data, the intersection of research with emerging social or political issues, or the mobilization of scientific knowledge for greater societal benefit.

Media Contacts:


International Barcode of Life 

Hannah James
Manager – Media and Strategic Communications

The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium is a research alliance with a mission to develop and apply a globally accessible, DNA-based system for the discovery and identification of all multicellular life. Our vision is to illuminate biodiversity for the benefit of our living planet.

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