Rodolfo Dirzo, Ph.D.


Rodolfo Dirzo, Ph.D.
Rodolfo Dirzo
Professor of Biology
Stanford School of Medicine
City, State
Stanford, CA
Award year


Project Details

Using his fellowship, Dirzo developed and staffed an operational laboratory at the Chajul Field Station in Montes Azules, Lacandonia, Chiapas. The station has become an important focal point for this special forest and has attracted active participation from a variety of Mexican conservation stakeholders ranging from government officials to local, rural teachers.

The successful functioning of the Montes Azules station allowed for the implementation of a number of projects, including inventories of the floristic diversity and the community of fungi of the Lacandon forest, a catalogue of the trophic relationships between herbivorous caterpillars and their host plants, development of a manual for the identification of trees from their bark, assessments of litterfall patterns in the three main variants of the rainforest in Lacandonia and a catalogue of photographs of the Lacandon rain forest.

In addition, Dirzo used his Pew funds to assess the consequences of defaunation on the structure and diversity of the forest understory and evaluate the status of conservation of Mexican tropical forests and mangrove ecosystems. He also produced several books on the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico.


Rodolfo Dirzo's field of expertise is tropical ecology and conservation. His primary area of research is ecological interactions with a focus on tropical forests. His work includes the study of defaunation (the contemporary loss of vertebrates) and its effects on forest diversity and function; deforestation and its consequences on atmospheric properties; and trophic relationships between plants and animals.

Dirzo helped create the Center for Ecology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). He was formerly director of the Los Tuxtlas Research Station.



Ph.D., University of Wales
1980: Ecology, United Kingdom

Master of Science, University of Wales
1977: Ecology, United Kingdom

Bachelor of Science, Universidad de Morelos
1972: Biology, Mexico


Association for Tropical Biology
past Council Member

Scientific Committee of the Latinoamerican Botanical Network
past Member


Marine Fellow
1992: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment


Association of Tropical Biology

British Ecological Society

Mexican Academy of Scientific Research

Mexican National System of Researchers

Sociedad Botanica de Mexico

The Linnean Society


  • Lambin, E.F., B.L. Turner, H.J. Geist, S.B. Agbola, A. Angelsen, J.W. Bruce, O.T. Coomes, R. Dirzo, G. Fischer and C. Folke. 2001. The causes of land-use and land-cover change: Moving beyone the myths. Global Environmental Change 6(11): 261-269
  • Guevara, R. and R. Dirzo. 1998. A rapid method for the assessment of the macromycota. the fungal community of an evergreen cloud forest as an example. Canadian Journal of Botany 76(4): 596
  • Moron-Rios, A., R. Dirzo and V.J. Jaramillo. 1997. Defoliation and below-ground herbivory in the grass Muhlenbergia quadridentata : Effects on plant performance and on the root-feeder Phyllophaga sp. Coleoptera, Melolonthidae. Oecologia 110(2): 237
  • Noble, I. R. and R.Dirzo, R. 1997. Forests as Human-Dominated Ecosystems. Science 277(5325): 522
  • Dirzo, R. 1991. Rescate y restauración ecológica de la selva de Los Tuxtlas. Ciencia y Desarrollo 17:33-45
  • Dirzo, R. and A. Miranda. 1991. El límite boreal de la selva en el Continente Americano: Contracción de la selva y solución de una controversia. Interciencia 16:240-247
  • Dirzo, R.. 1991. La vegetación: exuberancia milenaria. In: Lacandonia: el último refugio (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Sierra Madre Club eds.), p. 52-74
  • Dirzo, R. 1990. La biodiversidad como crisis ecológica actual: Que sabemos? Ciencias 4:48-55
  • Dirzo, R. and A. Miranda. 1990. Contemporary neotropical defaunation and forest structure, function and diversity a sequel to John Terborgh. Conservation Biology 4:444-447

Search Pew Scholars