Skip to Content

Found 3,402 Resources


National Portrait Gallery

Amazon Ant

NMNH - Education & Outreach
This object is part of the Education and Outreach collection, some of which are in the Q?rius science education center and available to see.

"Amazon" button

National Museum of American History

Amazon pins

National Museum of American History

Paddle Of River Amazon Indians

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Paddle Of River Amazon Indians

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Amazon Region Series

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yellow-Crowned Amazon

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Scientific name: [Amazona ochrocephala ochrocephala].

Yellow-crowned amazon, also known as yellow-crowned parrot, perched in enclosure at National Zoological Park.

Amazon on Horseback

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Torching the Amazon

National Portrait Gallery

Yellow-Crowned Amazon Parrot

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Two Yellow-Crowned Amazon Parrots, Amazona ochrocephala, feeding in the Panama Canal Zone. Video by: Rachel Collin

Amazon Indian Adventure - 1974

Human Studies Film Archives
SILENT FILM CLIP (1:20 minutes) -- Yagua village along the Amazon River, Peru, ca. 1974, from "Amazon Indian Adventure" from Hal, Halla, and David Linker's television travelogue, "Three Passports to Adventure." The film clip is from the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution collection of historical moving images. For more information, see the online catalog record:!270558~!48&ri=2&aspect=subtab157&menu=search&source=~!siarchives&ipp=20&spp=20&staffonly=&term=linker&index=.AW&uindex=&aspect=subtab157&menu=search&ri=2#focus

Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Scientific name: [Amazona ochrocephala oratrix].

Yellow-headed amazon parrot perched on branch at the National Zoological Park.

Paddle Of River Amazon

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Exploring the Amazon Rain Forest

Smithsonian Magazine

The Amazon rain forest covers more than two million square miles of the earth's surface, spanning eight South American countries. Although the region has no seasons, the Amazon River rises and falls by as much as 30 feet during the year, and the variety of living things one can see changes with it. Every journey reveals new wonders.

More than a third of the world's species—mostly plants and insects—make their home in the rain forest. But with the help of an experienced guide, you can also glimpse a rainbow of exotic creatures that includes toucans, red deer and pink dolphins. The astonishment and beauty of the Amazon lie "in the intricacy of this fabulously complex ecosystem," says Roger Harris, co-author of The Amazon: The Bradt Travel Guide.

Most travelers visit the western areas of the rain forest that remain largely untouched, such as the Loreto region of Peru, so they may not notice that the ecosystem is under siege. Already 20 percent of the forest has been cut down for timber or burned to make way for farms, with thousands more acres disappearing each day. "I've seen areas along the river where it's been beautiful, pristine forest one year, and the next it's been clearcut," says Harris. "That's pretty hard to take."

New Hope for the Amazon

Smithsonian Libraries

Save the Amazon, Increase Malaria

Smithsonian Magazine

A pristine stretch of Amazon rainforest–teeming with malaria-transmitting mosquitoes? Photo by Phil P. Harris

Most people consider saving the Amazon rainforest a noble goal, but nothing comes without a cost. Cut down a rainforest, and the planet loses untold biodiversity along with ecosystem services like carbon dioxide absorption. Conserve that tract of forest, however, and risk facilitating malaria outbreaks in local communities, a recent study finds.

Nearly half of malaria deaths in the Americas occur in Brazil, and of those nearly all originate from the Amazon. Yet few conservationists consider the forest’s role in spreading that disease. Those researchers who do take malaria into account disagree on what role forest cover plays in its transmission.

Some think that living near a cleared patch of forest–which may be pockmarked with ditches that mosquitoes love to breed in–increase malaria incidence. Others find the opposite–that living near an intact forest fringe brings the highest risk for malaria. Still more find that close proximity to forests decrease malaria risk because the mosquitoes that carry the disease are kept in check through competition with mosquitoes that don’t carry the disease. Most of the studies conducted in the past only focused on small patches of land, however.

To get to the bottom of how rainforests contribute to malaria risk, two Duke University researchers collected 1.3 million positive malaria tests from a period of four-and-a-half years, and ranging over an area of 4.5 million square kilometers in Brazil. Using satellite imagery, they added information about the local environment where each of the cases occurred and also took rainfall into account, because precipitation affects mosquitoes’ breeding cycles. Using statistical models, they analyzed how malaria incidences, the environment and deforestation interacted.

Their results starkly point towards the rainforest as the main culprit for malaria outbreaks. “We find overwhelming evidence that areas with higher forest cover tend to be associated with higher malaria incidence whereas no clear pattern could be found for deforestation rates,” the authors write in the journal PLoS One. People living near forest cover had a 25-fold greater chance of catching malaria than those living near recently cleared land. Men tended to catch malaria more often the women, implying that forest related jobs and activities–traditionally carried out by men–are to blame by putting people at greater risk for catching the disease. Finally, the authors found that people living next to protected areas suffered the highest malaria incidence of all.

Extrapolating these results, the authors calculated that, if the Brazilian government avoids just 10 percent of projected deforestation in the coming years, citizens living near those spared forests will contend with a 2-fold increase in malaria by 2050. “We note that our finding directly contradicts the growing body of literature that suggests that forest conservation can decrease disease burden,” they write.

The authors of the malaria study do not propose, however, that we should mow down the Amazon in order to obliterate malaria. “One possible interpretation of our findings is that we are promoting deforestation,” they write. “This is not the case.” Instead, they argue that conservation plans should include malaria mitigation strategies. This could include building more malaria detection and treatment facilities, handing out bed nets and spraying for mosquitoes.

This interaction between deforestation and disease outbreakis just one example of the way efforts to protect the environment can cause nature and humans to come into conflict. Around the world, other researchers have discovered that conservation efforts sometimes produce negative effects for local communities. Lyme disease–once all but obliterated–reemerged with a vengeance (pdf) in the northeastern U.S. when abandoned farmland was allowed to turn back into forest. Human-wildlife conflict–including elephants tearing up crops, tigers attacking livestock, and wolves wandering into people’s backyards–often comes to a head when a once-declining or locally extinct species makes a comeback due to conservation efforts.

“We believe there are undoubtedly numerous ecosystem services from pristine environments,” the PLoS One authors conclude. “However, ecosystem disservices also exist and need to be acknowledged.”

Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro..

Smithsonian Libraries
First published in London, 1853, under title: A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro.
1-24 of 3,402 Resources