Bibliometric studies have found that male researchers have their greatest productivity around the age of 40, that female researchers produce less than their male colleagues, that incentives for collaboration are slow to affect productivity and that, just like humans, research institutes become larger, less productive, more expensive to maintain and less able to raise money as they grow old. Almost invariably, these conclusions come from statistical studies of large numbers of European and American scientists, and there are practically no studies about tropical researchers. We present an in-depth analysis of the productivity of an internationally recognized tropical botanist and conservationist, Luis Diego Gómez Pignataro, based on the totality of his published work and on our own knowledge, as co-workers and friends, of the life frame in which that scientific output was produced. His life output departs from the expected pattern in that he had the highest productivity before reaching the expected peak productivity age, and that when he reached it his productivity fell and never recovered. Furthermore, marriage did not produce the expected fall in productivity. A close analysis of his life indicates that in the middle of his career he switched to intense teaching and conservation activities, and this better explains why his output of scientific research articles was low afterwards. This switch may occur in other tropical scientists.