Daniel H. Janzen

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Daniel H. Janzen
Daniel Janzen (3214457162) (cropped).jpg
Daniel Janzen, 2009
Daniel Hunt Janzen

(1939-01-18)January 18, 1939
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota, University of California, Berkeley
Known forTropical ecology, biodiversity development
SpouseWinifred Hallwachs
AwardsKyoto Prize
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Pennsylvania, Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund, Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG)
External video
video icon “Costa Rica : Paradise Reclaimed”, Profile of Dan Janzen in Nature, MacArthur Foundation (WNET Television station : New York, N.Y., 1987)
video icon “Spark: Heroes, commentary by Rob Pringle”, Day’s Edge Productions, 29 Dec 2016

Daniel Hunt Janzen (born January 18, 1939, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin[1]) is an American evolutionary ecologist, and conservationist. He divides his time between his professorship in biology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology, and his research and field work in Costa Rica.

Janzen and his wife Winifred Hallwachs have catalogued the biodiversity of Costa Rica. Through a DNA barcoding initiative, Janzen and geneticist Paul Hebert have registered over 500,000 specimens representing more than 45,000 species, which has led to the identification of cryptic species of near-identical appearance that differ in terms of genetics and ecological niche.

They[who?] helped to establish the Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site, one of the oldest, largest and most successful habitat restoration projects in the world.

Early life and education[edit]

Daniel Hunt Janzen was born January 18, 1939, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[1] His father, Daniel Hugo Janzen,[2] grew up in a Mennonite farming community and served as Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.[1] His father and mother, Miss Floyd Clark Foster of Greenville, South Carolina, were married on April 29, 1937.[3]

Janzen obtained his B.Sc. degree in biology from the University of Minnesota in 1961, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965.[4]


In 1963, Janzen attended a two-month course in tropical biology taught in several field sites throughout Costa Rica. This Advanced Science Seminar in Tropical Biology was the precursor to a Fundamentals in Tropical Biology course, which Janzen designed for the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), a consortium of several North American and Costa Rican universities. Janzen went back in 1965 as an instructor and has lectured in at least one of the three yearly courses every year since.[4]

Janzen taught at the University of Kansas (1965–1968), the University of Chicago (1969–1972), and the University of Michigan (1972–1976) before joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.[5] There he is the DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology, and his research and field work in Costa Rica.[6]

Janzen has also held teaching positions in Venezuela (Universidad de Oriente, Cumaná in 1965–66; Universidad de los Los Andes, Mérida in 1973), and in Puerto Rico (Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, 1969).[7]


Janzen's early work focused on the careful and meticulous documentation of species in Costa Rica, and in particular on ecological processes and the dynamics and evolution of animal-plant interactions.[4]: 426  [8] In 1967, for example he described the phenological specialization of bee-pollinated species of Bignoniaceae,[9] amongst them a "kind of mass flowering", which Alwyn Howard Gentry in his classification of flowering named Type 4 or "big bang" strategy.[10]

Miguel Altieri in his textbook Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture says: "Janzen's 1973 article on tropical agroecosystems was the first widely read evaluation of why tropical agricultural systems might function differently from those of the temperate zones".[11][12]

In 1985, realizing that the area in which they worked was threatened, Janzen and Hallwachs expanded the focus of their work to include tropical forest restoration, expansion (through land purchases) and conservation.[13][14] They employed the help of local Costa Ricans, converting their farming skills into parataxonomy, a term they coined in the late 1980s.[15][16] As of 2017, some 10,000 new species in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste have been identified thanks to the efforts of parataxonomists.[16]

Through a DNA barcoding initiative with geneticist Paul Hebert, they have registered over 500,000 specimens representing more than 45,000 species, which has led to the identification of cryptic species of near-identical appearance that differ in terms of genetics and ecological niche.[17][18][19] Janzen and Hallwachs have supported species barcoding initiatives at both national and international levels through the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), CBOL (Consortium for the Barcode of Life) and iBOL (International Barcode of Life).[20][21][22]

Coevolution of plants and animals[edit]

Tropical habitat restoration[edit]

Tropical dry forests are the world's most threatened forest ecosystems. In middle America there were 550 000 km2 of dry forests at the beginning of the 16th century; today, less than 0.08% (440 km2 ) remains.[23] They have been cleared, burnt and replaced by pastures for cattle raising,[24] at an ever-faster rate during the last 500 years.[23]

In 1985, realizing that widespread development in northwestern Costa Rica was rapidly decimating the forest in which they conducted their research, Janzen and Hallwachs expanded the focus of their work. Janzen and his wife helped to establish the Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site (ACG), one of the oldest, largest and most successful habitat restoration projects in the world. They began with the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, which included 100 km2 (25,000 acres) of pasture and relictual neotropical dry forest and 230 km2 (57,000 acres) of marine habitat.[13] This eventually became the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, located just south of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border, between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de Tilaran which integrated four different national parks. Together these house at least 15 different biotopes, viz (mangroves, dry forest and shrubs, ephemeral, rainy season, and permanent streams, fresh water and littoral swamps, evergreen rain- and cloud forests...) and ca. 4% from world's plant, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and insects diversity, all within an area less than 169,000 hectares (420,000 acres).[25] It is one of the oldest, largest and most successful habitat restoration projects in the world. As of 2019, it consists of 169,000 hectares (420,000 acres).[25] The park exemplifies their beliefs about how a park should be run. It is known as a center of biological research, forest restoration and community outreach.[17]

Habitat restoration is not a simple matter. Not only must one fight against hundreds of years of ecological degradation, manifested in the form of altered drainage patterns, hard to eradicate pastures, compacted soils, exhausted seed banks, diminished adult and propagule stocks, proliferation of fire-resistant and unpalatable weeds from the old world tropics and sub-tropics.[26] Also one is faced with the difficulties of changing a culture which coevolved with, profited from and can become miserable with such a system.[27][28][29]

For this reason ACG was conceived as a cultural restoration project, which, to paraphrase its natural counterpart, ought to be grown as well. ACG integrates complementary processes of experimentation, habitat restoration and cultural development.[15]: 89–91 [30] The techniques used include:

  • Active restoration, artificial dispersal of propagules from plant species native to the Guanacaste habitats[30]: 57, 73 
  • Passive restoration by means of fire, anti-poaching and herbivore control[30]: 33, 73 
  • Ecological education and sensibilisation[15]: 275 [14][31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Janzen is married to ecologist Winifred Hallwachs, who is also his frequent research partner. Of Hallwachs, Janzen has said, "We did these things together,"[15]: 132–136  and "we are very much together in perceiving things the same things....Since I'm the vocal member, it's then attributed to me. But I would say these ideas and directions and thoughts and actions are easily fifty-fifty attributable."[15]: 134 

Honorary distinctions[edit]

Janzen has been subject to recognition many times in the US, as well as in Europe and Latin America; the monetary endowments of these prizes have been invested in the trust fund of the ACG or another of his conservation's projects in Costa Rica; amongst the 19 prizes and distinctions, the following are the most important:

See also[edit]


The following is a selection of Janzen's publications that are not otherwise listed.

  • Rosenthal, Gerald A.; Janzen, Daniel H., eds. (1979), Herbivores: Their Interaction with Secondary Plant Metabolites, New York: Academic Press, p. 41, ISBN 0-12-597180-X
  • Janzen, Daniel H., ed. (1983), Costa Rican Natural History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 823, ISBN 978-0-226-39334-6
  • Janzen, Daniel H. (September 1966). "Coevolution of Mutualism Between Ants and Acacias in Central America". Evolution. 20 (3): 249–275. doi:10.2307/2406628. JSTOR 2406628. PMID 28562970.
  • Janzen, Daniel H. (1985). "Spondias mombin is culturally deprived in megafauna-free forest". Journal of Tropical Ecology. 1 (2): 131–155. doi:10.1017/S0266467400000195. JSTOR 2559336. S2CID 86663441.
  • Janzen, D. H. (1986). Guanacaste National Park : tropical ecological and cultural restoration. San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Universidad Estatal a Distancia. ISBN 9977-64-316-4.


  1. ^ a b c d "Prof. Daniel H. Janzen Interview Summary". Blue Planet Prize: A better future for the planet Earth. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Mrs. Floyd Janzen". The Greenville News. Greenville, South Carolina. 8 May 1980. p. 78. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Changes Name". The Survey. Washington, D.C. 13 (3–4): 99. May 1937.
  4. ^ a b c d Becher, Anne; McClure, Kyle; White Scheuering, Rachel; Willis, Julia (2000). "Janzen, Daniel H.". American environmental leaders : from colonial times to the present. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 426–427. ISBN 978-1-59237-119-8.
  5. ^ "Daniel H. Janzen – Frontiers of Knowledge Laureate". Fundación BBVA. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Presentation by Tropical Biologist Dr Janzen". Penn Club of Chicago. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Daniel H. Janzen Académico Correspondiente". Academia Nacional de Ciencias. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b Mitchell, John D.; Daly, Douglas C. (5 August 2015). "A revision of Spondias L. (Anacardiaceae) in the Neotropics". PhytoKeys (55): 1–92. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.55.8489. PMC 4547026. PMID 26312044.
  9. ^ Janzen, D. H. 1967. Synchronization of sexual reproduction of trees within the dry season in Central America. Evolution 21: 620-637.
  10. ^ Alwyn H. Gentry. Flowering Phenology and Diversity in Tropical Bignoniaceae. Biotropica 6(1): 64-68 1974
  11. ^ Altieri, Miguel (October 13, 1995). Agroecology : the science of sustainable agriculture (2nd ed.). Westview Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-8133-1718-5.
  12. ^ Janzen, D. H. (21 December 1973). "Tropical Agroecosystems: These habitats are misunderstood by the temperate zones, mismanaged by the tropics". Science. 182 (4118): 1212–1219. doi:10.1126/science.182.4118.1212. PMID 17811308. S2CID 12290280. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  13. ^ a b Pringle, Robert M. (June 1, 2017). "Upgrading protected areas to conserve wild biodiversity". Nature. 546 (7656): 91–99. Bibcode:2017Natur.546...91P. doi:10.1038/nature22902. PMID 28569807. S2CID 4387383.
  14. ^ a b Singer, F. D. (2016). "Chapter 18: Dan Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs: Community Interactions and Tropical Restoration through Biodiversity Conservation". Ecology in Action. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-11537-8. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Allen, William (2001). Green Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste. Oxford University Press. pp. 132–136. ISBN 978-0-19-516177-9.
  16. ^ a b Kazmier, Robin (June 15, 2017). "The Parataxonomist Revolution: How a Group of Rural Costa Ricans Discovered 10,000 New Species". Comparative Media Studies: Science Writing.
  17. ^ a b Davis, Tinsley H. (September 26, 2017). "Profile of Daniel H. Janzen". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (39): 10300–10302. doi:10.1073/pnas.1714623114. PMC 5625942. PMID 28893992.
  18. ^ Halloway, M. (July 29, 2008). "Democratizing Taxonomy". Conservation magazine. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  19. ^ Hebert, P. D. N.; Penton, E. H.; Burns, J. M.; Janzen, D. H.; Hallwachs, W. (2004). "Ten species in one: DNA barcoding reveals cryptic species in the neotropical skipper butterfly Astraptes fulgerator". PNAS. 101 (41): 14812–14817. Bibcode:2004PNAS..10114812H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0406166101. PMC 522015. PMID 15465915.
  20. ^ "Koerner Lecture to examine conservation of wild biodiversity via biodiversity development". York University. March 20, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  21. ^ Janzen, D.H.; Hallwachs, W. (October 2, 2019). "How a country can DNA barcode itself". Barcode Bulletin. IBOL. doi:10.21083/ibol.v9i1.5526.
  22. ^ Wolf, G. (September 22, 2008). "A Simple Plan to ID Every Creature on Earth". Wired. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Janzen, Daniel H. (1988). "Chapter 14 Tropical Dry Forests The Most Endangered Major Tropical Ecosystem". In Wilson, EO; Peter, FM (eds.). Biodiversity. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).
  24. ^ Burgos, Ana; Maass, J.Manuel (December 2004). "Vegetation change associated with land-use in tropical dry forest areas of Western Mexico". Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 104 (3): 475–481. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.01.038.
  25. ^ a b "ACG Biodiversity". Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  26. ^ Gomiero, Tiziano (18 March 2016). "Soil Degradation, Land Scarcity and Food Security: Reviewing a Complex Challenge". Sustainability. 8 (3): 281. doi:10.3390/su8030281.
  27. ^ Costanza, Robert; Cumberland, John; Daly, Herman; Goodland, Robert; Norgaard, Richard (1997). An Introduction to ecological economics. St. Lucie Press. ISBN 1-884015-72-7.
  28. ^ van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M. (14 February 2007). "Evolutionary thinking in environmental economics". Journal of Evolutionary Economics. 17 (5): 521–549. doi:10.1007/s00191-006-0054-0.
  29. ^ Janzen, Daniel H. (May 2000). "Costa Rica's Area de Conservación Guanacaste: A long march to survival through non-damaging biodevelopment". Biodiversity. 1 (2): 7–20. doi:10.1080/14888386.2000.9712501. S2CID 129440404.
  30. ^ a b c Derroire, Géraldine (2016). Secondary succession in tropical dry forests drivers and mechanisms of forest regeneration Secondary succession in tropical dry forests. (Dissertation) (PDF). Alnarp: Sveriges lantbruksuniv Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880. ISBN 978-91-576-8634-3.
  31. ^ Cruz, R. E.; Blanco Segura, R. (2010). "Developing the Bioliteracy of School Children for 24 Years: A Fundamental Tool for Ecological Restoration and Conservation in Perpetuity of the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica". Ecological Restoration. 28 (2): 193–198. doi:10.3368/er.28.2.193. S2CID 219193472. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  32. ^ Kazmier, Robin (June 15, 2017). "The Parataxonomist Revolution: How a Group of Rural Costa Ricans Discovered 10,000 New Species". Comparative Media Studies: Science Writing.
  33. ^ "The Crafoord Prize 1984 – in ecology". The Crafoord Prize. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  34. ^ a b Fishman, Margie (September 22, 1997). "Bio Prof Janzen garners 'Japanese Nobel Prize' for conservation work". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
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  38. ^ "Founders' Council Award to Daniel H. Janzen, Ecologist". In the field : the bulletin of the Field Museum of Natural History. Vol. 62, no. 2. Field Museum of Natural History. 1991. p. 2. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  39. ^ "Daniel H. Janzen". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  40. ^ "The ISCE Silver Medal Award". International Society of Chemical Ecology. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  41. ^ "Past SCB Award Recipients". Society for Conservation Biology. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  42. ^ "University Awards and Honors". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
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  44. ^ "Daniel Hunt Janzen". Kyoto Prize. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
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  47. ^ "Design & Artistic Merit Category: National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA)". The Guide to Outdoor Literature. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  48. ^ "Daniel Janzen honoured with BBVA Foundation award". International Barcode of Life. 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  49. ^ Baillie, Katherine Unger (February 7, 2012). "Penn Biologist Daniel Janzen Honored With BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award". Penn Today. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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  51. ^ "2019 Blue Planet Prize: Announcement of Prize Winners" (PDF). The Asami Glass Foundation. July 10, 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.

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