La Sierra Madre: The Mother Range. It’s fitting that Mexico would give all three of its major mountain ranges the same name, differentiated only by their location—Sierra Madre Occidental, Sierra Madre Oriental, Sierra Madre del Sur. After all, this is a land where devotion to the ideal of the maternal is endemic, where shrines to the Virgin are rarely a stone’s throw apart, and where madres, abuelas, and tias have traditionally ground the corn, dried the carne, and pounded the chile that comprises the life-sustaining triumvirate of Mexican cuisine.
The sierras give life to the country too. Peaks ten thousand feet tall scrape rain from clouds spawned in two oceans and two seas, sending it cascading through pine and fir forests where thick-billed parrots screech at stooping goshawks, down through oak woodlands where moonlight fires the eyes of jaguars and ocelots, and out to water the valleys and plains where corn grows, cows graze, and chiles ripen in the sun.
What better goal for a scientific expedition, then, than to explore and celebrate the life in its myriad forms that springs from the Mother Range? That’s the idea behind MABA—the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment.
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