Insects—and aquatic bugs in particular—could be key to understanding how the opening of an ambitious new highway connecting Brazil and Peru will affect the Amazon rain forest.
Earlier this year, stretches of the approximately 1,600-mile (2,600-kilometer) long Transoceanic Highwayopened to public vehicles for the first time. The east-west passageway stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil to the Pacific Ocean in Peru via two different branches and cuts through the heart of the Amazon rain forest.
The highway brings with it high economic hopes for the region but also environmental concerns about the impact it will have on the Amazon’s plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
“If you spend any time in rural Peru, you know that a very large percentage of the country is dealing with intense poverty, so it’s very difficult to look at a road like that and say don’t do it,” said Roger Mustalish, president of the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research. (ACEER).
“But every time you see a road like this going through, it’s not long before you see major changes in population migration.”