Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

A Q&A with Expert Bob Szaro

Q. What kinds of insights about biodiversity in the tropics do you plan to address during the upcoming Panama Canal cruise?

A. Central America accounts for only 0.1% of the Earth’s surface but it boasts 7% of the world’s biodiversity with its two southern countries Costa Rica and Panama being the most diverse. Traveling through Costa Rica and Panama you learn to expect the unexpected. Every day something new and exciting will be waiting for us as we explore the natural treasures of the region. The multicolored splendor of flowering trees in the tropics is rarely matched in any temperate forest. Why are the tropics so diverse particularly in this region? Its geographic position, its two coasts, and its mountainous systems, which provide numerous and varied microclimates, are some of the reasons that explain this natural wealth, in terms of both species and ecosystems.