The demographics of graduate biology is changing to include more Native Americans, Latin Americans and indigenous peoples from other continents than ever before. Biology is not no longer Western science as much as it is cross-cultural science, with the capacity to integrate traditional ecological knowledge from diverse cultures to develop and test novel hypotheses. But with this opportunity comes the challenge of teaching biology less ethnocentrically, of developing multicultural field teams, and involving diverse communities as collabotators in interpreting and applying the results of field science. On incubation grounds for these experiments is the binational Southwest, where I have been involved in novel cross-cultural projects with indigenous peoples of the Colorado Plateau and Sonoran Desert. The Colorado Plateau is not only one of the most diverse ecoregions north of the tropics in terms of its species richness of plants, birds, butterflies and tiger beetles; it is also culturally diverse, with more speakers of Native American languages persisting in this region than all others in North America. It and the binational Sonoran Desert region are also rich in narrowly-distributed endemics for which local residents have considerably more information than scientists who have only sporadically visited their habitats. I will present as case studies two collaborations with indigenous communities which honor both Western and indigenous scientific knowledge, and which are leading to on-ground conservation benefits. Biologists can no longer ignore the vital links between biodiversity and cultural diversity; our future depends upon how well we link them.

Key words: cross-cultural projects, ethnobiology, indiginous peoples, Latin Americans, Native Americans, plenary address