Mexico City taps into one of the world’s deepest aquifers, Peru’s hemorrhaging anchovy fishery and growing diverse crops in Bolivia.

ARGENTINA Argentine scientists have identified hotspots of mosquito breeding in the country’s northern provinces. The research is part of an effort to eliminate populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, famous in Latin America for carrying the dengue virus. Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers created a predictive map that outlined where mosquitoes were … Continue reading Mexico City taps into one of the world’s deepest aquifers, Peru’s hemorrhaging anchovy fishery and growing diverse crops in Bolivia.

Burial chamber discovered in the middle of Machu Picchu, recording sounds for posterity in Mexico, and coffee rust continues to devastate plantations.

ARGENTINA Argentine researchers are part of an international consortium that is developing new drugs to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The scientists identified a gene, FapR, which inhibits the synthesis of lipids—fats required by bacteria to build new cells. The research was published in the journal PLoS Pathogens. BOLIVIA UPDATE: The story … Continue reading Burial chamber discovered in the middle of Machu Picchu, recording sounds for posterity in Mexico, and coffee rust continues to devastate plantations.

Archaeologists find Inca city below Santiago, Chile, dengue epidemic spreads into Brazil, and leaf rust attacks Central American coffee crop.

BRAZIL The southern Brazilian city of Campo Grande has declared a state of emergency due to an outbreak of dengue fever, an infection caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes. More than 8,000 cases have been reported in the city of 1 million, with 700 cases per day, according to the city’s mayor. This outbreak … Continue reading Archaeologists find Inca city below Santiago, Chile, dengue epidemic spreads into Brazil, and leaf rust attacks Central American coffee crop.

Thursday January 17

Global demand for quinoa triples its price in Bolivia, Paraguay struggles to contain spread of dengue, and the superears of a Colombian grasshopper. BOLIVIA Global demand for quinoa has tripled the price of the Andean grain, forcing Bolivian and Peruvian farmers to rely on other staples for food. “It’s worth more to [the producers] to … Continue reading Thursday January 17

Thursday January 10

Ending hunger in Latin America, Colombia declares a new natural park, and Chile studies pollution and commuters ARGENTINA An individual from a rare species of armadillo was found by scientists outside Bahia Blanca, Argentina, though it died soon after discovery. The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest species of armadillo and is seldom found in … Continue reading Thursday January 10

Catching Fog in Lima

by Aleszu Bajak.

“This is the real Peru,” says eighteen-year-old Frank Rodas as he spreads his arms. He adjusts his baseball hat and looks down into a hazy valley at Villa Maria del Triunfo, a shantytown of sixty-thousand that blankets the hills of southern Lima. “What you see in downtown Lima is all just a screen.”

One hundred and fifty thousand people pour into Lima every year from Peru’s provinces. Like Rodas, most end up in pueblos jóvenes—literally young towns—in improvised dwellings with no running water and sporadic access to electricity. This constant influx means houses are added by the day, built into the rocky hillside with walls of salvaged wood or concrete if the family can afford it. Like Rodas´s parents, most immigrants come to Lima to find work, shelter, and perhaps a way to break out of poverty—they aren’t able to build themselves homemade shelters, except in some of the poorest areas of the country, where they often do so on unstable ground. Paradoxically, many residents of the pueblos jóvenes are forced to pay two to three times more than they would to live in downtown Lima: these settlements are unauthorized and so subject to extortionist landlords who tax access to pirated utilities.

To reach the upper limits of Villa Maria del Triunfo, our taxi crawled up a dirt road past hundreds of these ramshackle houses. Roosters stood guard out front, children played in the street, and the stench from pig pens spread throughout the settlement. Unlike most of the crudely-built houses in Villa Maria, the hogs and their sties are legal on these hillsides; Lima has for a long time zoned some of its marginal districts as agricultural. When the road became too steep for the beat-up station wagon, we got out to walk the last few steps to the highest point, a small neighborhood named Flor de Amancay after the bright yellow flower that blankets these hillsides throughout Lima’s damp winter.

Continue reading “Catching Fog in Lima”

Thursday December 20

Peru’s threatened anchovy fishery, new dinosaur found in Argentina, and Antarctica’s mosquito problem. ANTARCTICA An invasive species of mosquito (Eretmoptera murphyi) has been found in Antarctica and has some scientists worried about its effect on the continent. The mosquito, brought over by tourists and researchers alike, could deposit large amounts of nutrients in the soil … Continue reading Thursday December 20

Thursday December 13

Walking Peru’s Nazca lines, studying airborne contaminants in Mexico, and looking at Ecuador’s receding glaciers. CHILE One of Latin America’s largest meat processing sites has been shut down in Chile following months of protests over the stench. Agrosuper’s pig processing plant in Freirina in northern Chile was closed in May of 2012 after fierce protests … Continue reading Thursday December 13

Thursday November 15

Poisoning rats in the Galapagos Islands, looking for natural antibiotics in Patagonian frogs and dengue fever in Peru. ARGENTINA Scientists in Patagonia are looking at the compounds frogs and toads secrete for antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. With the mounting antibiotic arms race against drug-resistant ‘super’ bacteria, scientists are looking for natural sources of antimicrobials … Continue reading Thursday November 15

Thursday November 8

Patagonian ozone hole affecting forest growth, melting tropical glaciers in Peru, and Venezuela’s sardine fishery collapse. ARGENTINA A hole in the ozone has changed Patagonia’s weather. Less rainfall is having an effect on the region’s forests that is unprecedented in the past 600 years. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, an international team of scientists … Continue reading Thursday November 8

Thursday October 18

Central American crops battling pests and drought, Argentine students overweight, and sea lions nursed back to health in Peru ARGENTINA 37% of schoolchildren in Argentina are overweight and 18% of those are obese, says a review of 57 studies done across 13 of Argentina’s provinces. The studies include around 120,000 children and were undertaken in … Continue reading Thursday October 18

Thursday September 27

Ecuador dispatches scientific cruise to the Galapagos, genetically-modified mosquitoes combat dengue in Brazil, and Chile develops earthquake-resistant technology BRAZIL Genetically-modified mosquitoes released in Brazil have reduced the population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the region by 90%, according to the Brazilian science ministry. Another trial in the Cayman Islands have reduced dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the … Continue reading Thursday September 27

Thursday September 13

Chile’s ALMA telescope finds rare molecules surrounding a star, climate change has trees migrating in Peru, and Argentina’s guanacos are llama-non-grata. ARGENTINA Guanacos are now species-non-grata in Argentina following the announcement that the llama-like animal is a “harmful species” due to its population size, its biological characteristics, and the economic and social damage they bring … Continue reading Thursday September 13

Thursday August 2

Villagers immune to rabies found in the Peruvian Amazon, Chile’s Very Large Telescope spots a spiral galaxy, and scientists strap a camera to a diving cormorant in Argentina. ARGENTINA Argentine scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society have captured video of never-before-seen behavior from a cormorant diving 150 feet to the sea floor in search of … Continue reading Thursday August 2

Thursday July 26

Argentines are protesting a new Monsanto factory in Cordoba, Peruvians are reviving ancient farming practices and almost 5 million chickens have been slaughtered in Mexico to contain the H7N3 avian flu. ARGENTINA A cropdusting lawsuit in Córdoba, Argentina resumed this week. Two soybean farmers and a pilot stand accused of cropdusting too close to urban … Continue reading Thursday July 26

Thursday July 5

Argentina upholds glacier protection law, a Colombian volcano is still rumbling and a scientist says northern Chile is due for a large earthquake. ARGENTINA Argentina’s “glacier law,” designed to protect water reserves and limit mining activity on and near glaciers in the country’s Andean west, was upheld by the Argentine Supreme Court this week. In … Continue reading Thursday July 5