Fresh from the field, the California Academy of Sciences' curator of herpetology, Bob Drewes, and co-manager of the Naturalist Center, Roberta Ayres, talk about their recent expedition to São Tomé.
One of two islands forming a single nation off the western equatorial coast of Africa and more than 17 million years old, São Tomé may be the last undisturbed paradise on earth. This sparsely inhabited island is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. They discuss the island's unique biodiversity, and explore how improved education can help protect it from environmental threats.
Roberta Ayres is a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she earned her Bachelors degree in Biology and teaching credentials. In 1998 she graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a M.S. Science Education with course concentration in museum education.
Her career in the informal science education field started right after graduation at the Sciencenter, Ithaca, NY, where she developed and delivered public programs and trained museum volunteers. She is currently the Aquatic Educator and Naturalist Center Coordinator at the California Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Robert Drewes
Dr. Robert Drewes is Curator of the Department of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences. He completed his undergraduate degree at San Francisco State and his Ph.D. in Biology at UCLA, focusing on the evolutionary relationships of the dominant treefrog family of Africa, Madagascar, and the Seychelles Islands. His graduate career at UCLA also instilled an ongoing fascination with environmental physiology (the study of how individual organisms physically interact with the environment).
Drewes' ongoing research on the systematics, natural history, and behavior of African reptiles and amphibians began with a year-long trip to East Africa in 1969.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.Island country, central Africa. It is situated on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea, west of the African mainland. Area: 386 sq mi (1,001 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 163,000. Capital: São Tomé. Most of the people are Forro, a mixture of African and European ancestry, or Angolares, the descendants of former Angolan slaves. Languages: Portuguese (official), Creole. Religion: Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic; also Protestant). Currency: dobra. The country consists of the two main islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, which are separated by about 90 mi (145 km), and a number of islets. The two main islands each have northeastern lowlands, central volcanic highlands, and swift-flowing streams. The economy, partly government-controlled and partly private, has long depended heavily on international assistance; it is based on agriculture and fishing, although petroleum-related earnings have increased since the late 1990s. The country is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. First visited by European navigators in the 1470s, the islands were soon colonized by the Portuguese and were used in the trade and transshipment of slaves. Sugar and cocoa were the main cash crops. The islands became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951, and they achieved independence in 1975. Príncipe became autonomous in 1995.