ASA News & Updates

Latest from ASA in Peru Archive

New educational children's book published

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Written and illustrated by former ASA Lepidoptera Research Assistant Allison Stoiser, the book has been adapted and translated into Spanish language by ASA and ACEER, one of our partners in Peru. This is an incredible tool that we are using to deliver quality education to children in the Peruvian Amazon who can not attend school in person due to Covid-19. Visit Mili's webpage here to learn more (Spanish only).

Biannual Report 2019-2020 just released!

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In this report we describe what we've accomplished during the past two years and where we're going next. We are very proud of the work that our staff and incredible community of Rainforest Champions has done to protect the Amazon. Click here to read the full report!

New fish recorded at Finca Las Piedras

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As part of our ongoing efforts to document the biodiversity of the southeastern Peruvian Amazon, we are collecting and cataloguing the fish species found within our property at Finca Las Piedras. The streams that pass through here are part of one of the most diverse yet almost completely unstudied watersheds in the Amazon, so this project is turning up lots of new information. Quincy Knowlton, an intern who contributed to our fish survey in 2019, has added 13 new fish species to our list. There is still much more to be done, but we're very happy with our progress so far.

Nov. 4, 2019 - Our latest Lepidoptera publication is online!

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Two of our recent Lepidoptera Research Assistants, Quin Baine and Gabriela Polo, led the research, which described the life stages and food plant of a butterfly species found at Finca Las Piedras. This is a novel host record for this species, and the first time anyone has described the caterpillars. Check it out!

April 11, 2019 - The Biannual Report for 2017-2018 is here!

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Have a look at what our team has been up to in Peru during the past couple of years to protect plants and animals and other natural resources in the most beautiful and biodiverse rainforest on Earth! We're very proud of what we've done so far, yet there is still so much more to do. Check it out!

November 5, 2018 - Manu Biodiversity Expedition report is now available!

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Our butterfly, bird, and herp teams visited the 'Gallito de las Rocas' conservation area near Peru's Manu National Park in August and recorded 289 species, all new records for the area! Read more about the expedition's discoveries and highlights in the expedition report, available here.

July 17, 2018 - Slingshot spiders in slow motion

This weekend we were thrilled to have Saad Bhamla and his team from Georgia Tech with us at Finca Las Piedras to film these amazing animals at as many as 30,000 frames per second! These spiders spin a cone-shaped web that they 'load' by pulling back on a silk thread anchored to the web's center, and release when a prey flies in front of it. The release is super fast - just a few millionths of a second - which is why the high speed camera is necessary to study it. Understanding how these little spiders perform such an incredible feat will further our understanding of biophysics and could help us to solve a wide variety of practical problems. There's something to learn around just about every tree here in the Amazon rain forest!

Check out more of Dr. Bhamla's research at his website.

July 7, 2018 - Giant armadillo makes an appearance at Finca Las Piedras!

The giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is one of the rarest and most poorly-studied large mammals in the Amazon rainforest. And we just confirmed its presence at Finca Las Piedras! We've seen many burrows around our property and in adjacent forest concessions, but this is the first time we've seen that actual animal (on camera, anyway). The next step is to learn more about this species' abundance and biology so that we can assess its conservation status and, if necessary, establish a plan to conserve it.

See a complete list of mammal species found to date at Finca Las Piedras here.

July 4, 2018 - Water quality monitoring with aquatic invertebrates with our community's kids

ASA and ACEER, another NGO working in environmental education in Madre de Dios, Peru, teamed up to teach the children from Monterrey, Finca Las Piedras' nearest community, about the importance of water quality and how to monitor it through aquatic invertebrates. The kids examined the living contents of leaf packets placed previously in the field site's stream, sorting through the various species of insects and other creatures and looking for those that might indicate water quality. This activity is designed not only to get young people excited about science, but aims to show them that it is a powerful tool that can help us become stewards of the environment.

Read more about the project here (in Spanish).

July 1, 2018 - A new study in the journal Biotropica explores the publication of scientific articles by authors in tropical countries.

Tim Perez, a graduate student at the University of Miami and member of the ASA's board of directors led the study. Tim and his coauthor, Aaron Hogan, recommend that conservationists continue to develop collaborations with researchers in underrepresented countries to advance conservation science in the tropics.

Read more here.

News from the Amazon Archive

Two steps back but sometimes a giant step forward: New protected area declared in the Peruvian Amazon

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After pushing for its creation for nearly twenty years, indigenous communities and conservationists in Peru have secured the protection of 1.1 million hectares of rainforest on the border with Brazil. The Yavarí Tapiche Indigenous Reserve will protect the ancestral lands of various indigenous groups, including some still living in voluntary isolation, as well as a nearly incomparably rich diversity of Amazonian plants and animals. The reserve significantly expands a massive regional protected area complex that spans both Peru and Brazil. Read more here.

More than 50% of the Amazon rain forest will be lost by 2030. When will we reach a tipping point?

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Leading scientists say that, if deforestation, fires, and climate change pass a certain threshold, then large parts of the Amazon could change to a savannah-like ecosystem. The big question here is what, exactly, is the tipping point, beyond which this change will be irreversible. With some estimates at 25-50% of forest loss in the region, and with the Amazon fast approaching the higher end of those estimates, the future of the world’s greatest rainforest is increasingly precarious. Read more here.

Indigenous Peoples

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New research in the prestigious journal PNAS confirms what indigenous people have long known—that they are the Amazon's best stewards. The researchers showed that indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon were among the least affected by the country's ongoing deforestation crisis. But there is a caveat: indigenous people are most able to effectively defend their forests when their property rights are fully recognized. One more important reason to support indigenous rainforest defenders in the Amazon.

Conservation Issues

A new documentary film, 'Voices on the Road', covers the illegal and highly controversial expansion of a road in Peru's Manu Biosphere Reserve. While many local residents have called for the road's completion for years, it is likely to lead to increased deforestation, illegal gold mining, and drug trafficking, among other illicit activities. This is a highly nuanced issue, and the film does an exceptional job of giving space to voices on both sides of the debate.