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September 28, 2007

Carr’s work included in international field guide

As if professional collaboration isn’t involving enough, try the complication of writing it in Spanish!

John L. Carr, University of Louisiana at Monroe biology professor and associate curator of the ULM Museum of Natural History, did just that.

As a by-product of his work in Colombia the last three summers, he was invited to help produce a field guide, entitled "The Turtles and Crocodilians of the Tropical Andean Countries." Two weeks ago, Carr’s copious contributions to what’s meant to be a training tool and aid for upcoming biologists was finished.

“It was complicated, as I did all my commentary and editing in Spanish,” Carr said. “All of my work was in documents and e-mails relayed between here and Colombia.” For the chapter he wrote, Carr told them it would be quicker if they let him write it in English, so they had that part translated.

“Since May, I've edited the entire thing twice (some parts more than that), making corrections, additions, etc. throughout. I spent a great deal of time working on the taxonomy and anything to do with morphology, since those are areas where I have expertise not found among most of the other authors.” There are also a number of his photos included.

About the work in Spanish, Carr said “I tell people I'm proficient in Spanish, not fluent. It's hard work for me to write and make all of my commentary in Spanish--I have a dictionary at my side. It probably takes two to three times as long as it would if the work were in English.”

The 538-page book is more than a typical field guide, not just serving to identify animals, which can lead to a greater appreciation of nature, but also addressing conservation concerns and innovative conservation projects. The introductory portion addresses these issues and includes methods sections concerning the biology of turtles and crocodilian biology, with a slant toward conservation-related projects. It’s part of a field guide series initiated and published by a non-profit conservation organization, Conservation International. Carr became acquainted with the group when he worked in the Washington, D.C., headquarters from 1989-94.

The field guide specifically covers Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, but will also be useful in neighboring countries. A free copy will be issued to 400 Colombian libraries; similar quantities should be sent to the other four countries as well, accounting for 2,000 copies. Others will be sold at a reduced rate in Latin American countries and at higher cost elsewhere. Authors do not receive royalties; any money made from selling part of the print run will go back into future conservation-related publications and documents. It should also become available online, intended to reach students and others in out of the way places, and at no cost.

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