Past Research

Amphibians And Reptiles (Herpetology)

Reptiles and Amphibians - Snakes, Lizards, Crocodilians, Frogs, Toads, Salamanders and More! Loved by some, feared by others, but never ignored! Our field sites on both sides of the Amazon are wonderful places for herpetophiles. The herpetofauna in this area is still poorly known, and several newly described species have been found at our sites, as well as other unidentified animals that may turn out to be undescribed species. Please see our Amphibians & Reptiles pages for annotated listings, photographs, and other herp information.

Spring 2002. Biology and Ecology of the Caiman Lizard. Mr. Ruston Hartdegen - Dallas Zoo Department of Herpetology. Mr. Hartdegen is studying the biology and movements of these semi-aquatic, little-known snail-eating lizards. For more detailed information (including photo), see Caiman Lizard Research. You can help support Mr. Hartdegen's research through the purchase of Caiman Lizard t-shirts (follow link) - be the first on your block to have one!!!

November 1997-December 2000. Survey of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madre Selva. Dallas Zoo Department of Herpetology - Winston Card, David Roberts, Ruston Hartdegen and others. The first intensive survey of the herpetofauna of the area. Trails were sampled repeatedly both day and night, obtaining infomation on species presence and also on the relative abundance of different species. Data, especially those pertaining to amphibians, are intended to serve as baseline data against which to compare future surveys. Amphibian data have a wider application, contributing to studies of world-wide amphibian declines. Over 160 species of reptiles and amphibians were documented by this study, and identifications materials are being prepared for future uses.

June 1995-Present. Survey of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Project Amazonas Field Stations. Dr. David Schleser, Natures' Images, Inc., Dr. Devon Graham, Scientific Director, Project Amazonas, Inc., and Mr. Richard Bartlett, author and photographer. An ongoing project to identify and photo-document the species of reptiles and amphibians present at the Project Amazonas field sites. Data used as a basis for annotated species lists for reptiles and amphibians.

Arthropods and Insects (Entomology)

Molecular Phylogeny of New World Pheidole ants: Corrie S Moreau, Harvard University. Examining the molecular and fossil record to determine the age and origin of diversification of a very species group of ants. Field work at Madre Selva provided ant specimens for molecular analysis back in the USA. Partial results were published in Science, the most prestigious US science publication, with an ant from Madre Selva featured on the cover!

Birds (Ornithology)

Birds are a both a conspicuous and inconspicuous element of the rainforest fauna. Even though the dawn chorus can be almost deafening, and birds can be heard at all hours of day and night, they can be frustratingly difficult to see much of the time. Although many different species are present at our research sites, many are quite rare, and infrequently observed, having low population densities, and widely dispersed individuals. Learning calls of t is a frustrating task, but a necessary one if you want effectively study the birds of the area. See our Birds web page for listings, photos and more about the birds found at our field sites.

September 2001-February 2003. Intercontinental Comparison of the Diversity of Fruit-eating Birds and Fruiting Plants. Ms. Johanna Choo, The University of Rutgers, Rutgers, New Jersey. Dissertation research comparing the diversity and abundance of frugivorous birds and plants with bird-dispersed fruits in the Peruvian Amazon (at Paucarillo Forest Reserve) and Borneo. Ms. Choo is particularly interested in how fruit nutritional quality may affect dispersal of fruits by birds. For additional details, as well as photos from Ms. Choo's research, click on the title above. Please contact us to help support Ms. Choo's dissertation research.

June 1998-Present. Geographic Variation in Antbird Vocalizations. Dr. Haven Wiley, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. An ongoing study of geographic variation in the calls and songs of several species of antbirds (Thamnophilidae and Formicariidae) to assess the role of geographic barriers (i.e., rivers) in promoting speciation among these forest-interior species of birds. The Project Amazonas sites are three of several sites being sampled during this study.

June 1998-Present. Survey of the Birds of Loreto. Dr. Haven Wiley, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Department of Loreto has one of the greatest bird diversities in the world, particularly considering that the geography and habitats of the region are relatively uniform (no mountain ranges, etc.). The bird fauna of the region is still poorly known, and ornithological surprises pop up every year. This project seeks to document distributions of bird species throughout Loreto, and includes both a field component and a museum component. The Project Amazonas field sites are an important part of the field component of this work.

July-August 1995. Rio Orosa Ornithological Survey. Alan Edmiston, University of Durham (UK); Jim Dulling (UK), John Lewis (UK), Mark Lewis (UK), Willem-Pier Vellinga (Eindhoven University of Technology - Netherlands). An initial survey for rare, endangered, and threatened bird speciesin the Rio Orosa area, including the Madre Selva and Paucarillo field sites. In addition to documenting the presence and abundance of various species, blood samples were collected from select birds for avian blood parasite research. Project sponsored by the Neotropical Bird Club (United Kingdom).

September 1994-Present. Survey of the Birds of the Project Amazonas Field Sites. Dr. Devon Graham, Scientific Director, Project Amazonas, Inc. Continuing survey of the bird species present in the region, with the objective of compiling an accurate list of the species present, the habitats they favor, estimates of population densities, and similar information that may be of use to researchers utilizing the field sites.

December 1997-Present. Christmas Bird Count. Dr. Devon Graham - Annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBC's) with results for all counts worldwide compiled and published by the Audubon Society. Count results are useful for monitoring trends in bird species distribution and abundance over broad geographic areas. The CBC count is now over 100 years old! Download the complete CBC results for the Rio Orosa CBC from our Document Center. Contact us for information on the next CBC if you would like to participate.

Fish (Ichthyology)

Fish, fish and more fish! The Amazon basin is loaded with hundreds of species of fish, more species, in fact, than the entire Atlantic Ocean. From stingrays to electric eels and piranhas, the fish of the Amazon basin inhabit a wide range of aquatic habitats, come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and behave in wierd and wonderful ways. See our Fish web page for annotated listings and photographs of the fish species found at or near our sites, as well as lots of other fishy information.

1990-Present. Survey of the Fish of the Project Amazonas Field Sites. Dr. David Schleser, Natures' Images, Inc.; Ron Belliveau, Project Amazonas, Inc.; Jim Lovins, St. Louis Zoo; others. On-going documentation of the fish present in different habitats at Madre Selva, Paucarillo, Sabalillo, and nearby locations. Much of this data has been collected during the course of hobbist tropical fish collecting expeditions. Such expeditions involve intensive collecting, and over 150 species may be collected in the course of a single week. Please visit the Margarita Tours website for information on fish collecting expeditions.

August 1996. Systematics of South American loricariid catfishes. Dr. Jon Armbruster (now with the Smithsonian Institution) and Mark Sabaj, Illinois Natural History Survey; Michael Hardman, British Museum of Natural History. Collection and systematics of loricariid (suckermouth and armored) catfish, with special interest in the genus Cochliodon. Over 190 species of fish collected and deposited in the Illinois Natural History Survey museum. Read a detailed account of the expedition, written by Jon Armbruster, expedition leader.

Fungi (Mycology)

Fungi are a critically important, yet almost completely ignored and overlooked component of the tropical rainforest flora and fauna. Thousands of species, some microscopic, others gigantic, are present everywhere you look, provided you look closely enough! Even the gigantic ones, which may spread over large areas, are largely composed of very fine threadlike filaments known as mycelia, and can be quite inconspicuous. Fungi play important roles in decomposing dead organic matter, but there are also fungi that are parasites on both plants and animals (athletes foot and ringworm being two of the least gruesome examples!), others that are symbiotic with algae (to form lichens), or which are symbiotic with higher plants, and which play an irreplaceable role in nutrient capture and cycling in the nutrient-poor rainforest soils. The most conspicuous parts of fungi are the fruiting bodies, formally known as sporocarps - these are the "toadstools", "witches butter", shelf fungi" and the like, which are what most people think of when they think of fungi. Many of these sporocarps are stunningly beautiful as well. Fungi are one of the least studied components of rainforest ecosystems, and many tropical species have yet to be named.

April 1997. Photographic Survey of the Fungi of the Rio Orosa Region. Mr. Taylor Lockwood. A photodocumentation of the different forms of fungi found in the Rio Orosa area, especially at the Madre Selva Field Station and nearby areas. Mr. Lockwood is a professional photographer and amateur mycologist ("mushroom student") turned pro! Follow the link to his beautiful Kingdom of the Fungi web site for photos and identifications (and even games!!) of fungi of the Peruvian Amazon region (and elsewhere). A stunning book featuring beautiful and fantastic fungi from around the world is now available through his website.

Plants (Botany)

Identification of plant species in tropical rainforests is a time-consuming and difficult task. There are many different species present, many of them represented by very widely dispersed individuals. In the upper Amazon, plant species diversity is very high. For instance, there can be over 300 species of trees found in a single acre of rainforest. With so many plant species present, field guides are inadequate or non-existent, and the taxonomic treatment of various groups is often scattered widely in the scientific literature and generally non-accessible except to experts. A few groups of plants, such as the palms, do have good treatments available, but this is the exception. Many species of plants remain to be described, and it is certain that species new to science are present at our field sites. Visit our Flora & Fauna pages for more information and photos. A very important resource for botanists in the Iquitos region is the Herbarium Amazonense. The Herbarium has a number of equipment and support needs - please check out the link to see if you can help this valuable institution.

June 2001-Present. Identification Guide to Common and Conspicuous Plants of the Upper Amazon. Ms. Patty Bartlett and Dr. Devon Graham. Preparation of a popular photo-illustrated field guide to the common, conspicuous, or otherwise notable plants of the region. An ongoing project.

June 1995-Present. Identification of Plant Species at Project Amazonas sites. Dr. Devon Graham, Scientific Director, Project Amazonas, Inc. A continuing project to identify and label common, conspicuous or otherwise notable plants around clearings and along trails at field sites to facilitate research and educational endeavors.

May 2001. Heliconia Survey and Collection. Puerto Rico Heliconia Society. Documentation of as many Amazonian Heliconia species and varieties as possible for conservation and scientific information purposes (photos of many of the species encountered can be found in the Flora and Fauna section).

July-August 1997. Survey and Identification of Plant Species at Madre Selva . Rick and Jean Seavey. Identification and labelling of common, conspicuous, and important plant species occuring around clearings and along trails at the Madre Selva Biological Field Station. Labels have scientific and local names, and are an important resource for researchers and students interested in learning the plant species present.

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