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Peer-reviewed Publications - Lepidoptera

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Nakahara, S., Piovesan, M., Baine, Q., MacKenzie, E.C., Gallice, G., Barbosa, E.P., & K. Kleckner. (2023 - Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: Here, we describe and name a new nymphalid butterfly species in the subtribe Euptychiina. Caeruleuptychia thaliana Nakahara & Piovesan, n. sp. is proposed by incorporating three independent sources of evidence: adult external morphology, DNA sequence data, and early stage biology. Caeruleuptychia thaliana n. sp. is known from two sites in the Amazon basin, in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, and another site situated in Madre de Dios department, Peru. A single egg of C. thaliana n. sp. was obtained while conducting field work at the latter locality, and subsequently observations were made of the larva passing through four larval stages until reaching the adult stage. The natural host plant for C. thaliana n. sp. was identified as a species of grass, Lasiacis ligulata Hitchcock & Chase (Poaceae: Panicoideae: Paniceae).

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Duerr, N., Corahua-Espinoza, T., Baine, Q., Tejeira, R., Ccahuana, R., del Castillo Espinoza, M.M., Perlett, E., Cervantes-Martínez, J.N., Santillana, A.L., See, J., Soto-Quispe, Y.S., Wood, H., Escalante Arteaga, Z., & G. Gallice (2022 - Zootaxa)

Abstract: We describe here for the first time the complete immature life cycles and shelter structures of two Neotropical skipper butterflies in the subtribe Moncina, Troyus phyllides (Röber, 1925) and Thoon ponka Evans 1955, along with new natural host plant records for these species at Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru. Four eggs and a preantepenultimate larva of T. phyllides, as well as three eggs of Thoon ponka were collected in nature and each passed through five larval instars to adulthood. Troyus phyllides fed on a herbaceous species, Lasiacis ligulata Hitchcock & Chase (Poaceae: Panicoideae: Paniceae), while T. ponka fed on two congeneric herbaceous bamboo species, Pariana lunata Nees and Pariana sp. (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae). We present photos of all immature stages and host plants, as well as illustrations of the shelter structures and the head capsules for each of these two species.

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Corahua-Espinoza, T., Nakahara, S., Kabir, J., Shellman, B., Tejeira, R., Ccahuana, R., & G. Gallice (2022 - Zootaxa)

Abstract: We here document the immature stages of three euptychiine butterflies, Nhambikuara mima (Butler, 1867), Splendeuptychia furina (Hewitson, 1862), and Paryphthimoides brixius (Godart, [1824]), all found feeding on a species of herbaceous bamboo, Taquara micrantha (Kunth) I.L.C. Oliveira & R.P. Oliveira (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae) in Madre de Dios, Peru. This study is the first to report the life history of these three taxa with their natural host plant. We provide illustrations of immatures, head capsules, and the host plant for each of these three species. The immature morphology of these taxa supports recent generic arrangements of these three species in comparison with their close relatives, namely Splendeuptychia furina to Nhambikuara mima and Paryphthimoides brixius to Paryphthimoides terrestris (Butler, 1867), a species documented in our successive study. Thus, the present study includes taxonomic implications based on immature stages by discovering putative synapomorphic characters of larvae and pupae. These pairs of closely related species occur in micro-sympatry at the study site in southeastern Peru, and our observations possibly suggest niche partitioning between sibling species. Additionally, we report two herbaceous bamboo species, Olyra latifolia L. and Taquara micrantha (Kunth) I.L.C. Oliveira & R.P. Oliveira as the first known natural host plants for Magneuptychia harpyia (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1867).

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Hurtado, T., Nakahara, S., Rodríguez-Malgarejo, Tejeira, R., See, J., Ccahuana, R., & G. Gallice (2021 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: Here we document the complete life cycle of the Neotropical nymphalid butterfly Taygetis cleopatra (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1862) based on two individuals collected and reared in Madre de Dios, Peru, including the morphology and duration of each life stage. We also report this species’ natural hostplant at the study site, a species of herbaceous bamboo, Olyra latifolia L. (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae). Our study confirms existing information regarding the partial life history of this species in Ecuador, as well as its use of O. latifolia as a hostplant in southeastern Peru, while adding new information regarding its immature biology.

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Ccahuana, R., Corahua-Espinoza, T., Nakahara, S., Tejeira, R., Rodríguez-Melgarejo, M., & G. Gallice (2021 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: We report for the first time the complete immature stages of the Neotropical riodinid butterfly Leucochimona hyphea (Cramer, 1776), based on individuals reared in Madre de Dios, Peru. We illustrate all five larval instars, in addition to the pupa and the egg, and provide the duration of each stage. We also provide evidence for the presence of ant organs on A8 of the larvae and pupa of L. hyphea, and report its natural host plant at the study site, Spermacoce latifolia Aubl. (Rubioideae: Rubiaceae), which
represents a new host record for this species.


Shinichi Nakahara, Fjella Hoffman, Fabia Hoffman, & Geoff Gallice (2020 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: We here report for the first time the complete life history of Magneuptychia harpyia (C. Felder & R. felder, 1867) (Satyrinae: Euptychiina), based on an individual from Madre de Dios, Peru. An egg obtained from a single female was reared on Lasiacis ligulata Hitchcock & Chase (Poaceae: Panicoideae) and the larva passed through five instars. Images of the egg, all larval instars, and the pupa are provided herein, in addition to illustrations of the head capsule and information on the duration of each stage. The host plant in nature is unknown.

Immature stages of Splendeuptychia quadrina (Butler, 1869) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)

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Joseph See, Shinichi Nakahara, & Geoff Gallice (2018 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: The immature stages of the Neotropical nymphalid butterfly Splendeuptychia quadrina (Butler, 1869) are documented herein based on a population found in Madre de Dios, Peru. Larval morphology is illustrated for the first time for the genus. The host plant is a species of bamboo, identified as Rhipidocladum racemiflorum (Steud.) McClure (Poaceae: Bambusoideae).

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Corahua-Espinoza, T., Nakahara, S., Baine, Q., Kabir, J., Rodríguez-Melgarejo, M., Tejeira, R., Ccahuana, R., See, J., Soto-Quispe, Y.S., Wood, H., Escalante Arteaga, Z., & G. Gallice (2022 - Neotropical Entomology)

Abstract: We report here the immature stages and natural host plants for three species in the so-called “Taygetis clade” of the nymphalid butterfly subtribe Euptychiina, Taygetis echo (Cramer, 1775), Taygetis sosis Hopffer, 1874, and Pseudodebis valentina (Cramer, 1779). The study was carried out at Finca Las Piedras in Madre de Dios department, Peru. Taygetis echo was observed utilizing a species of herbaceous bamboo, Olyra latifolia L. (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae), T. sosis was found feeding on another species of herbaceous bamboo, Pariana lunata Nees (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae), and P. valentina was found utilizing a species of woody bamboo, Guadua weberbaueri Pilg. (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Bambuseae). We describe and provide photos of the immatures and host plants, as well as illustrations of the head capsules for each of these three species.

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Corahua-Espinoza, T., Nakahara, S., Shellman, B., Baine, Q., Tejeira, R., Ccahuana, R., & G. Gallice (2022 - Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: The immature stages of two euptychiine butterflies (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae), Paryphthimoides terrestris (Butler, 1867) and Magneuptychia iris (C. Felder & R. Felder, 1867), are described herein and their natural host plants are documented. Notes on the immature stages of these two species were included previously in an unpublished dissertation, although our work is the first to provide satisfactory illustrations of the immature stages of these two taxa. Based on the population found and studied in Madre de Dios, Peru, both species utilize plant species in the family Poaceae. We provide illustrations of immatures, head capsules, and host plants for both species.

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Nakahara, S., Rodríguez-Melgarejo, M., Kleckner, K., Corahua-Espinoza, T., Tejeira, R., Espeland, M., Casagrande, M.M., Barbosa, E.P., See, J., Gallice, G., Lamas, G., & K.R. Willmott (2022 - Insect Systematics & Diversity)

Abstract: We here establish a new genus in the nymphalid butterfly subtribe Euptychiina, Cisandina Nakahara & Espeland, n. gen. to harbor five species hitherto placed within two polyphyletic genera, namely Magneuptychia Forster, 1964 and Euptychoides Forster, 1964. We compiled data from over 350 specimens in 17 public and private col- lections, as well as DNA sequence data for all relevant species, to revise the species-level classification of this new genus. According to our multi-locus molecular phylogeny estimated with the maximum likelihood ap- proach, Cisandina lea n. comb., Cisandina philippa n. comb. & reinst. stat., Cisandina fida n. comb., Cisandina sanmarcos n. comb., and Cisandina trinitensis n. comb. are proposed as new taxonomic combinations, since these species are distantly related to the type species of Magneuptychia and Euptychoides and cannot reasonably be accommodated in any other genus. Lectotypes are designated for Papilio lea Cramer, 1777, Papilio junia Cramer, 1780, Euptychia philippa Butler, 1867, and Eupytchia fida Weymer, 1911. Two new species of Cisandina n. gen. are named and described herein, C. esmeralda Nakahara & Barbosa, n. sp. and C. castanya Lamas & Nakahara, n. sp., increasing the described species diversity of the genus to seven. The immature stages of C. castanya n. sp. and C. philippa n. comb. & reinst. stat. are documented along with their natural hostplants, representing the first two species of the genus with known life history information. We describe a new sub-species, Cisandina fida directa Nakahara & Willmott, n. ssp., based on a limited number of specimens from southern Ecuador and central Peru. We were unable to obtain genetic data for the nominate race of C. fida n. comb., and thus, this taxonomic hypothesis is currently based solely on phenotypic characters.

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Ccahuana, R., Tejeira, R., Hurtado, T., Nakahara, S., Rodríguez-Melgarejo, M., Gott, R.J., See, J., & G. Gallice (2021 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: We here report for the first time the complete immature life cycle of a Neotropical skipper butterfly, Ebusus ebusus ebusus (Cramer, 1780), with a report of a new natural hostplant based on a single individual reared at Finca Las Piedras (Madre de Dios, Peru). An egg obtained in nature passed through four larval instars and reached the adult stage, feeding on a palm species identified as Mauritia flexuosa L.f. (Arecaceae: Calamoideae). We provide images of each life stage including illustrations of head capsules and larval shelter structures, as well as information on the duration of the stages.

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Tejeira, R., Ccahuana, R., Hurtado, T., Nakahara, S., See, J., Rodríguez-Melgarejo, M., Corahua-Espinoza, T., & G. Gallice (2021 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: We here describe the immature stages of a rare Neotropical satyrine butterfly, Chloreuptychia marica (Weymer, 1911), with a report of its natural hostplant based on two individuals reared in southwestern Amazonia (Madre de Dios, Peru). Two eggs obtained in nature passed through four larval instars and reached the adult stage, and the hostplant was identified as Pariana lunata Nees (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Olyreae), a species of herbaceous bamboo. Images of each stage, as well as their duration, are provided herein, and we also illustrate the head capsules of the first and third instars.

Immature stages and new host record of Taygetis rufomarginata Staudinger, 1888 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)


Quin Baine, Gabriela Polo, Shinichi Nakahara, & Geoff Gallice (2019 - J Trop Lep Res)

Abstract: In the present study, the immature stages of the Neotropical euptychiine butterfly Taygetis rufomarginata Staudinger, 1888 are described and illustrated in detail for the first time, from specimens collected in Madre de Dios department, Peru. The morphology of all four instars, the egg and pupa, are described and the duration of each stage is recorded. General immature morphology is similar to that of Taygetis virgilia (Cramer, 1776), and T. acuta Weymer, 1910. The life history of studied specimens is compared to that of T. rufomarginata in Brazil and Costa Rica. In addition, we report a species of grass, Lasiacis ligulata Hitchcock & Chase (Poaceae), as a new host plant for this species.

Other Peer-reviewed Publications

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Yulisa Sari Soto-Quispe, Julián Clavijo-Bustos, & Geoffrey Gallice (2023 - Specimen)


The subfamily Rutelinae (Scarabaeoidea: Scarabaeidae) is highly diverse, particularly in the Neotropics, where about 1,350 of the subfamily’s approximately 4,900 total species are known to occur (Roskov et al., 2019; Puker et al., 2020). Of the Rutelinae taxa known to occur in the Neotropics, around 270 species contained within 52 genera are found in Perú (Ratcliffe et al., 2015). These beetles are commonly known as leaf chafer beetles, due to the fact that many have metallic coloration on the body. Many species have strong legs of variable sizes, and the overall size ranges from small to large (Jameson, 1997).

The genus Macraspis MacLeay, 1819 belongs to the tribe Rutelini and occurs from Mexico to Argentina, and includes 71 described species (Soula, 1998; Roskov et al., 2019; Bento et al., 2022). Adults feed on flowers and larvae are saprophagous (Medeiros et al., 2019; Neita-Moreno, 2014). Macraspis phallocardia was described by Bento et al. (2022) based on 18 specimens from the Amazonian state of Rondônia, Brazil. In this paper we record M. phallocardia for the first time in Peru.

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Riley Fortier & S. Joseph Wright (2021 - Ecology)

Abstract: Nutrient addition experiments indicate that nitrogen and phosphorus limit plant processes in many tropical forests. However, the long-term consequences for forest structure and species composition remain unexplored. We are positioned to evaluate potential long-term consequences of nutrient addition in central Panama where we have maintained a factorial nitrogen–phosphorus–potassium fertilization experiment for 21 yr and an independent study quantified the species-specific nutrient requirements of 550 local tree species. Here, we ask whether nutrients limit reproduction at the species and community levels. We also ask whether species-specific reproductive responses to nutrient addition are stronger among species associ- ated with naturally fertile soils, which could contribute to a shift in species composition. We quantified species-level reproductive responses for 38 focal species in the 21st year of the exper- iment and community-level reproductive litter production for the first 20 yr. Species-level reproductive responses to nitrogen and potassium addition were weak, inconsistent across spe- cies, and insignificant across the 38 focal species. In contrast, species-level responses to phos- phorus addition were consistently and significantly positive across the 38 focal species but were unrelated to species-specific phosphorus requirements documented independently for the same species. Community-level reproductive litter production was unaffected by nutrient addition, possibly because spatial and temporal variation is large. We conclude that phosphorus limits reproduction by trees in our experiment but find no evidence that reproductive responses to phosphorus addition favor species associated with naturally phosphorus-rich soils.

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Erik Iverson et al. (2020 - Integrative & Comparative Biology)

Abstract: Temperature is one of the most important environmental factors driving the genome-to-phenome relation- ship. Metabolic rates and related biological processes are predicted to increase with temperature due to the biophysical laws of chemical reactions. However, selection can also act on these processes across scales of biological organization, from individual enzymes to whole organisms. Although some studies have examined thermal responses across multiple scales, there is no general consensus on how these responses vary depending on the level of organization, or whether rates actually follow predicted theoretical patterns such as Arrhenius-like exponential responses or thermal performance curves (TPCs) that show peak responses. Here, we performed a meta-analysis on studies of ectotherms where biological rates were measured across the same set of temperatures, but at multiple levels of biological organization: enzyme activities, mitochondrial respiration, and/or whole-animal metabolic rates. Our final dataset consisted of 235 pairwise comparisons between levels of organization from 13 publications. Thermal responses differed drastically across levels of biological organization, sometimes showing completely opposite patterns. We developed a new effect size metric, “organizational disagreement” (OD) to quantify the difference in responses among levels of biological organization. Overall, rates at higher levels of biological organization (e.g., whole animal metabolic rates) increased more quickly with temperature than rates at lower levels, contrary to our predictions. Responses may differ across levels due to differing consequences of biochemical laws with increasing organization or due to selection for different responses. However, taxa and tissues examined generally did not affect OD...

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Tim Perez & Ken Feeley (2020)

1. Photosynthetic heat tolerances (PHTs) have several potential applications including predicting which species will be most vulnerable to climate change. Given that plants exhibit unique thermoregulatory traits that influence leaf temperatures and decouple them from ambient air temperatures, we hypothesized that PHTs should be correlated with extreme leaf temperatures as opposed to air temperatures.
2. We measured leaf thermoregulatory traits, maximum leaf temperatures (TMO) and two metrics of PHT (Tcrit and T50) quantified using the quantum yield of photosystem II for 19 plant species growing in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Coral Gables, FL, USA). Thermoregulatory traits measured at the Garden and microenvironmental variables were used to parameterize a leaf energy balance model that estimated maximum in situ leaf temperatures (TMIS) across the geographic distributions of 13 species.
3. TMO and TMIS were positively correlated with T50 but were not correlated with Tcrit. The breadth of species' thermal safety margins (the difference between T50 and TMO) was negatively correlated with T50.
4. Our results provide observational and theoretical support based on a first principles
approach for the hypothesis that PHTs may be adaptations to extreme leaf temperature, but refute the assumption that species with higher PHTs are less susceptible to thermal damage. Our study also introduces a novel method for studying plant ecophysiology by incorporating biophysical and species distribution models,
and highlights how the use of air temperature versus leaf temperature can lead to conflicting conclusions about species vulnerability to thermal damage.

Botanic gardens are an untapped resource for studying the functional ecology of tropical plants

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Tim Perez et al. (2018 - Philosophical Transactions B)

Abstract: Functional traits are increasingly used to understand the ecology of plants and to predict their responses to global changes. Unfortunately, trait data are unavailable for the majority of plant species. The lack of trait data is especially prevalent for hard-to-measure traits and for tropical plant species, potentially owing to the many inherent difficulties of working with species in remote, hyperdiverse rainforest systems. The living collections of botanic gardens provide convenient access to large numbers of tropical plant species and can potentially be used to quickly augment trait databases and advance our understanding of species’ responses to climate change. In this review, we quantitatively assess the availability of trait data for tropical versus temperate species, the diversity of species available for sampling in several exemplar tro- pical botanic gardens and the validity of garden-based leaf and root trait measurements. Our analyses support the contention that the living collec- tions of botanic gardens are a valuable scientific resource that can contribute significantly to research on plant functional ecology and conservation.

The changing nature of collaboration in tropical ecology and conservation

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Tim Perez & J. Aaron Hogan (2018 - Biotropica)

Abstract: Collaboration can improve conservation initiatives through increases in article impact and by building scientific understating required for conservation practice. We investigated temporal trends in collaboration in the tropical ecology and conservation literature by examining patterns of authorship for 2271 articles published from 2000 to 2016 in Biotropica and the Journal of Tropical Ecology. Consistent with trends in other studies and scientific disciplines, we found that the number of authors per article increased from 2.6 in 2000 to 4.2 in
2015 using a generalized linear model (glm). We modeled changes in multinational collaboration in articles using a glm and found that the mean number of author-affiliated countries increased from 1.3 (0.6 SD) to 1.7 (0.8 SD) over time and that increases were best explained by the number of authors per article. The proportion of authors based in tropical countries increased, but the probability of tropical–extratropical collaboration did not and was best explained solely by the number of authors per article. Overall, our analyses suggest that only certain types of collaboration are increasing and that these increases coincide with a general increase in the number of authors per article. Such changes in author numbers and collaboration could be the result of increased data sharing, changes in the scope of research questions, changes in authorship criteria, or scientific migration. We encourage tropical conservation scientists continue to build collaborative ties, particularly with researchers based in underrepresented tropical countries, to ensure that tropical ecology and conservation remains inclusive and effective.

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Erik Iverson & Jordan Karubian (2017 - The Auk)


Avian plumage has captivated scientists and the public alike for generations and has been a fundamental study system for research into signal evolution. By contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to avian bare parts such as exposed skin, bills, feet, and combs, despite considerable variation in structure and coloration within and between species. To better understand the potential signaling role of bare parts, we conducted a comprehensive literature search that returned 321 published studies. In reviewing these studies, we found that (1) bare-part color is widely distributed taxonomically and is produced by diverse mechanisms; (2) many bare parts are likely to be dynamic, honest signals of current condition or status and can also reflect genetic makeup and early developmental conditions; and (3) bare parts can function as pluripotent social signals, mediating interactions between competitors, mates, and kin. Differences between bare parts and plumage in phenology and information content support a multiple-messages interpretation of their respective signaling roles, in that bare parts may contain information that is complementary to, but distinctive from, information conveyed by plumage-based signals. We consider it likely that a great deal of bare- part variation is ‘‘hidden in plain sight,’’ in that meaningful variation may not be recorded by many current studies. We urge more careful and extensive characterization of bare-part coloration in a wider range of species because of its potential to advance our understanding of signal function and constraints, with particular reference to the role of dynamic color signals and the evolution of multiple ornamentation.

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Nigel Pitman, Riley Fortier, et al. (2022 - PhytoKeys)

Abstract: We report the rediscovery of the Critically Endangered cloud forest herb Gasteranthus extinctus, not seen since 1985. In 2019 and 2021, G. extinctus was recorded at five sites in the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes, 4–25 km from the type locality at the celebrated Centinela ridge. We describe the species’ distribution, abundance, habitat and conservation status and offer recommendations for further research and conservation efforts focused on G. extinctus and the small, disjunct forest remnants it occupies.

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Jan Hinkelman, Geoff Gallice, et al. (2020 - The Science of Nature)

Abstract: Eusociality in its various degrees represents an animal social system characterised by cooperative brood care, differentiation into castes and generational overlap. The fossil record indicates that eusociality is likely to have originated in hymenopterans and blattodeans during the Cretaceous. In this study, we present findings from surveys in Peruvian (Villa Carmen) and Ecuadorian (Rio Bigal, El Reventador) cloud forests revealing the first extant cockroach species living in complex, structured groups (n = 90–200 individuals, ˃ 20 adults). We observed and described behaviours that suggest the existence of cooperative care, nest guarding, nest chamber preparation within hardwood Casearia sp. (Salicaceae) and bamboo (Bambusoideae), multiple overlapping generations (‘different stages of’ instars), colony translocation, possibly a sole reproductive female (1.25 times larger white ‘queen’, but no potential ‘king’ observed), and morphologically diversified immature stages. In order to define the lineage where this type of sociality originated and occurs, the forms of Melyroidea magnifica Shelford, 1912, M. ecuadoriana sp. n., M. mimetica Shelford, 1912 and an undescribed species from Peru are also described in a separate section of this study. Blattoid morphological characteristics such as typical styli suggest categorisation within distinct Oulopterygidae (Rehn, 1951), outside Corydiidae Saussure 1864. Transitional advanced sociality or semisociality in related Aclavoidea socialis gen. et sp. n. is documented in a rotting stump (n = 80 individuals, few adults). Close phylogenetic relation between the genera, conserved morphology of numerous characters and their diverse feeding strategies generally lacking specialisation suggests a rather recent origin of a social way of life in this group. Eusociality in invertebrates and vertebrates can thus originate in various phylogenetical and ecological trajectories including predation, parasitism, care for herbs and the new one, documented through diet shift from detritivory to fungivory and algaevory. Interdisciplinary approaches reveal the low degree of knowledge of rainforest ecosystems, with fundamental groups remaining still systematically and also behaviourally undescribed.

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D.H. Klinges & B.R. Scheffers (2021 - The American Naturalist)

Abstract: An extension of the climate variability hypothesis is that relatively stable climate, such as that of the tropics, induces distinct thermal bands across elevation that render dispersal over tropical moun- tains difficult compared with temperate mountains. Yet ecosystems are not thermally static in space-time, especially at small scales, which might render some mountains greater thermal isolators than others. Here we provide an extensive investigation of temperature drivers from fine to coarse scales, and we demonstrate that the degree of sim- ilarity in temperatures at high and low elevations on mountains is driven by more than just absolute mountain height and latitude. We compiled a database of 29 mountains spanning six continents to char- acterize thermal overlap by vertically stratified microhabitats and bi- omes and owing to seasonal changes in foliage, demonstrating via mixed effects modeling that micro- and mesogeography more strongly in- fluence thermal overlap than macrogeography. Impressively, an in- crease of 1 m of vertical microhabitat height generates an increase in overlap equivalent to a 5.267 change in latitude. In addition, forested mountains have reduced thermal overlap—149% lower—relative to nonforested mountains. We provide evidence in support of a climate hypothesis that emphasizes microgeography as a determinant of dis- persal, demographics, and behavior, thereby refining the classical the- ory of macroclimate variability as a prominent driver of biogeography.

Herbarium-based measurements reliably estimate three
functional traits

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Tim Perez et al. (2020 - Functional Ecology)

Abstract: PREMISE: The use of functional traits has surged in recent decades, providing new
insights ranging from individual plant fitness to ecosystem processes. Global plant trait databases have advanced our understanding of plant functional diversity, but they remain incomplete because of geographic and taxonomic biases. Herbarium specimens may help fill these gaps by providing trait information across space and time. We tested whether
herbarium specimen-derived measurements are reliable estimates of three important, commonly measured functional traits—specific leaf area (SLA), branch wood specific gravity, and leaf thickness.
METHODS: Leaves and branches were collected from species cultivated at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Florida International University in Miami, FL, USA. Fresh components of SLA (area), branch wood specific gravity (volume), and leaf thickness were measured
following standard trait measurement protocols. We compared these trait values to corresponding measurements using plant tissues dried in a plant press following standard herbarium plant collecting protocols.
RESULTS: Herbarium-derived trait measurements (dried tissues) were highly correlated with those measured using fresh tissues following standard protocols (SLA: R2 = 0.72–0.97, p < 0.01; wood specific gravity: R2 = 0.74–0.75, p < 0.01; leaf thickness: R2 = 0.96, p < 0.01). However, except for leaf thickness, linear model slope or intercept coefficients differed from 1, indicating herbarium-derived trait measurements may provide biased estimates of fresh traits without the use of correction factors.
CONCLUSIONS: Herbarium-derived traits cannot always be used interchangeably with those measured from fresh tissues because of tissue shrinkage. However, herbarium-derived trait data still have the potential to drastically expand the temporal, geographic, and taxonomic scope of global trait databases.

The threat of road expansion in the Peruvian Amazon

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Geoff Gallice, Gustavo Larrea-Gallegos, & Ian Vázquez-Rowe (2019 - Oryx)

Abstract: The construction of roads and other large-scale infrastructure projects, and the secondary impacts they pre- cipitate, are among the key drivers of change in tropical for- ests. The proposed expansion of a road in the buffer zones of Peru’s Manu National Park and Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, in the country’s Amazon region, threatens bio- diversity and indigenous communities in one of the world’s most species-rich and environmentally sensitive rainforest areas. In particular, road expansion is likely to result in un- controlled colonization, deforestation, and the illicit extrac- tion of timber and other natural resources, as well as an increase in social conflict between resource extractors and indigenous communities. Furthermore, the development of infrastructure in the Manu region puts at risk Peru’s international commitments regarding climate change by promoting, rather than avoiding, forest loss. A number of viable alternatives to further road expansion are available to achieve economic development and improved mobility in Manu, including agricultural intensification, improved land-use planning, and a less invasive transportation infra- structure. Given the growth in the global road network ex- pected in the coming decades, as well as the common factors underlying the expansion of such infrastructure across tropical, developing countries, the issues surrounding road expansion in Manu and the compromise solutions that we propose are broadly applicable to efforts to achieve sustainable development in other remote, tropical regions.

Life cycle assessment of the construction of an unpaved road
in an undisturbed tropical rainforest area in the vicinity of Manu National Park, Peru

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Gustavo Larrea-Gallegos, Ian Vázquez-Rowe, & Geoff Gallice (2017 - Int J Life Cycle Assess)


Purpose The main goal of this study is to provide a thorough environmental sustainability analysis of the construction, traf- fic, and maintenance of a 45.6-km section of the ‘Manu Road’, an unpaved tropical road that is currently being built in the vicinity of Manu National Park, in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru.

Methods Life cycle assessment (LCA) using a set of 18 dif- ferent impact categories was selected to conduct the environ- mental analysis. Modelling of machinery and vehicle emis- sions, as well as dust emissions, was performed to account for site-specific characteristics in terms of road construction and traffic. Similarly, direct land use changes were modelled with a particular emphasis on the decay of deforested biomass during construction. A set of different scenarios for the pro- duction system were considered to account for uncertainty regarding vehicle transit, amount of deforested biomass, and emission standards.

Results and discussion Construction, maintenance, and traffic of the Manu Road varied considerably depending on methodo- logical assumptions. Deforestation due to direct land use changes appears to be the main environmental hotspot in terms of climate change, whereas in the remaining impact categories, traffic was the main carrier of environmental burdens. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first LCA that focuses on the construction, maintenance, and traffic in a tropical rainforest environment. Despite the low requirements in terms of materials and technology to build this road, its derived environmental impacts are relevant in terms of climate change and particulate matter formation due to deforestation and dust emissions, respectively. Unpaved roads represent a relevant proportion of the entire road net- work worldwide, especially in developing tropical countries, playing a crucial role in the transportation of raw materials. Furthermore, road infrastructure is expected to expand explo- sively in the decades to come. Therefore, we suggest that LCA studies can and should improve the planning of road infra- structure in terms of life cycle inventories.

Articles by Visiting Researchers & Students

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Robert Sites (2024 - Zootaxa)

Abstract: The neotropical saucer bug genus Maculambrysus Reynoso & Sites is currently represented by five species from tabasco, México to Pará, brazil. Presented here is the description of a sixth species, Maculambrysus gallicei n.sp., which was collected from rootmats and leafpacks in an aguaje palm swamp in southeastern Peru. It can be distinguished from most congeners by the concolorous dark-brown hemelytra and the mottled orange-brown pronotum, as well as characteristics of the male accessory genitalic process of tergum VI, and female subgenital plate and laterosternites VI. other aquatic Heteroptera co-occurring with this new species are given.

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Elio Challita et al. (2023 - Nature Communications)

Abstract: Food consumption and waste elimination are vital functions for living systems. Although how feeding impacts animal form and function has been studied for more than a century since Darwin, how its obligate partner, excretion, controls and constrains animal behavior, size, and energetics remains largely unexplored. Here we study millimeter scale sharpshooter insects (Cicadellidae) that feed exclusively on a plant’s xylem sap, a nutrient-deficit source (95% water). To eliminate their high-volume excreta, these insects exploit droplet superpropulsion, a phenomenon in which an elastic projectile can achieve higher velocity than the underlying actuator through temporal tuning. We combine coupled-oscillator models, computational fluid dynamics, and biophysical experiments to show that these insects temporally tune the frequency of their anal stylus to the Rayleigh frequency of their surface tension-dominated elastic drops as a single-shot resonance mechanism. Our model predicts that for these tiny insects, the superpropulsion of droplets is energetically cheaper than forming jets, enabling them to survive on an extreme energy-constrained xylem-sap diet. The principles and limits of superpropulsion outlined here can inform designs of energy-efficient self-cleaning structures and soft engines to generate ballistic motions.

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Nicolas Hazzi & Gustavo Hormiga (2021)

Abstract: The species of the genus Phoneutria (Ctenidae), also called banana spiders, are considered amongst the most venomous spiders in the world. In this study we revalidate P. depilata (Strand, 1909), which had been synonymized with P. boliviensisis (F.O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1897), using morphological and nucleotide sequence data (COI and ITS-2) together with species delimitation methods. We synonymized Ctenus peregrinoides, Strand, 1910 and Phoneutria colombiana Schmidt, 1956 with P. depilata. Furthermore, we designated Ctenus signativenter Strand, 1910 as a nomen dubium because the exact identity of this species cannot be ascertained with immature specimens, but we note that the type locality suggests that the C. signativenter syntypes belong to P. depilata. We also provide species distribution models for both species of Phoneutria and test hypotheses of niche conservatism under an allopatric speciation model. Our phylogenetic analyses support the monophyly of the genus Phoneutria and recover P. boliviensis and P. depilata as sister species, although with low nodal support. In addition, the tree-based species delimitation methods also supported the separate identities of these two species. Phoneutria boliviensis and P. depilata present allopatric distributions separated by the Andean mountain system. Species distribution models indicate lowland tropical rain forest ecosystems as the most suitable habitat for these two Phoneutria species. In addition, we demonstrate the value of citizen science platforms like iNaturalist in improving species distribution knowledge based on occurrence records. Phoneutria depilata and P. boliviensis present niche conservatism following the expected neutral model of allopatric speciation. The compiled occurrence records and distribution maps for these two species, together with the morphological diagnosis of both species, will help to identify risk areas of accidental bites and assist health professionals to determine the identity of the species involved in bites, especially for P. depilata.

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Symone Alexander & Saad Bhamla (2020)

Abstract: In the Theridiosomatidae spider family, at least three genera (Epeirotypus, Naatlo and Theridiosoma) use their three-dimensional cone-shaped webs as ultrafast slingshots that catapult both the spider and the web towards prey. Also known as slingshot spiders, theridiosomatids build three-dimensional conical webs with a tension line directly attached to the center of the web. In 1932, Hingston hypothesized that the slingshot spider releases the tension line using its front legs, while holding the web with its rear legs. Coddington [2] detailed how female spiders meticulously build their webs line-by-line. But lacking to date has been quantifi cation of spider
kinematics, such as displacement, velocity and acceleration. Here we report the first quantification of theridiosomatid motion, revealing that slingshot spiders generate the fastest arachnid full body motion through use of their webs for external latch-mediated spring actuation.

High levels of mercury contamination in a necrophage dung beetle of the Amazon rainforest

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Elena Chaboteaux et al. (2023 - Biotropica)

Abstract: This study represents the first evidence of mercury contamination in the family Scarabaeidae, with a close focus on Coprophanaeus lancifer, the largest copro-
necrophagous beetle in South America. This work shows the repartition of total
mercury (THg) in the insect body and lays the groundwork for additional future

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Elio Challita et al. (2021 - J Comp Phys)

Abstract: We develop a mathematical model to capture the web dynamics of slingshot spiders (Araneae: Theridiosomatidae), which utilize a tension line to deform their orb webs into conical springs to hunt flying insects. Slingshot spiders are characterized by their ultrafast launch speeds and accelerations (exceeding 1300 m/s2), however a theoretical approach to characterize the underlying spatiotemporal web dynamics remains missing. To address this knowledge gap, we develop a 2D-coupled damped oscillator model of the web. Our model reveals three key insights into the dynamics of slingshot motion. First, the tension line plays a dual role: enabling the spider to load elastic energy into the web for a quick launch (in milliseconds) to displacements of 10–15 body lengths, but also enabling the spider to halt quickly, attenuating inertial oscillations. Second, the dominant energy dissipation mechanism is viscous drag by the silk lines - acting as a low Reynolds number parachute. Third, the web exhibits underdamped oscillatory dynamics through a finely-tuned balance between the radial line forces, the tension line force and viscous drag dissipation. Together, our work suggests that the conical geometry and tension-line enables the slingshot web to act as both an elastic spring and a shock absorber, for the multi-functional roles of risky predation and self-preservation.

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Luis Gonzalo Gómez Galdos (2021 - thesis)

Abstract: Amphibians are one of the most diverse groups of vertebrates in the Amazon region and have crucial roles in the functionality of the ecosystem. Likewise, these species are mainly affected by the loss or deterioration of the forests in the region, generating a decrease in diversity and an increase in the coverage of regenerating forests. Due to this, the management of secondary forests represents an alternative for the conservation of species biodiversity, as this are potential reservoirs for various species that are displaced and threatened by different factors. In this study, carried out in 2019, we compared the amphibian communities present in a primary and secondary forest in the Amazon lowland forest, located in the Madre de Dios region, in order to identify the factors that could influence the presence or absence of amphibian species in a secondary forest, which had suffered selective logging events. Transects were used to sample amphibians, in addition to recording the main variables that described the abiotic and biotic characteristics of the habitats. 60 transects were sample in each forest, registering a total of 150 individuals belonging to 22 species. Likewise, when comparing the forests, structural differences were found in relation to environmental temperature, relative humidity, abundance of trees and canopy cover. Despite this, comparative analysis showed that amphibian communities were similar across forests in relative abundance, richness, and species diversity. However, differences were found when analyzing the species of the genus Pristimantis, which had the highest representativeness in the sampling (120 individuals) and could have favor a higher relative humidity in the primary forest. The results obtained show that secondary forests can support a community of amphibians similar to that of a primary forest, despite the differences in their biotic and abiotic structure. These differences between forests may not be reflected at the amphibian community level, but could be influential on some of its components, particularly for the species of the genus Pristimantis. This study provides evidence on the potential of secondary forests for amphibian conservation in Peru and the need to identify those factors that favor or limit their biodiversity.

Posters & Presentations

Monitoreo de largo plazo de las respuestas fenológicas al cambio climático en Madre de Dios, Perú

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Ryan Smith, Erik Iverson, & Geoff Gallice

VII Simposio de Investigación y Monitoreo Biológico en ANP – AIDER, Puerto Maldonado, Peru (2018)

Creando colecciones de insectos poco conocidos usando 'captura acompañante' de trampas en Finca Las Piedras, Perú

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Quinlyn Baine

VII Simposio de Investigación y Monitoreo Biológico en ANP – AIDER, Puerto Maldonado, Peru (2018)

Inventario fotográfico de especímenes vivos de arañas en la estación biológica Finca Las Piedras (Madre de Dios-Perú)

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Gabriela Polo Espinoza

VII Simposio de Investigación y Monitoreo Biológico en ANP – AIDER, Puerto Maldonado, Peru (2018)

Incorporation over deforestation: Cacao (Theobroma cacao) agroforestry as an alternative to papaya (Carica papaya) monocrop in Madre de Dios, Peru

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David Klinges & Geoff Gallice

2018 Conference – International Society of Tropical Foresters (2018)

Field Guides

Dung Beetles - Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru


Amanda Reyes, Geoff Gallice, & Gorky Valencia (2023)

Fungi - Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru


Monica Liedtke & Geoff Gallice (2019)

Mammals - Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru

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Barbara Hendus (2018)

Terra Firme Stream Fish - Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru

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Joseph See, Geoff Gallice, & Quincy Knowlton (2020)

Leaf-footed bugs (Hemiptera: Coreidae) - Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru

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Quinlyn Baine & Harry Brailovsky (2018)

Clearwing butterflies (Nymphalidae: Ithomiini) - Los Amigos Biological Station (250 masl), Madre de Dios, Peru

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Geoff Gallice (2016)

Intern Research Reports - 2022

Intern Research Reports - 2021

Intern Research Reports - 2019

Analysis of the Impact of biochar on Copoazú growth and production

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Allie Leight (2019)

Comparison of bird species abundance during waking and roosting periods in regenerating agroforest

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Alessandra Wilcox (2019)

Preliminary assessment of the Orthoptera composition of different tropical habitats within the Madre de Dios department of Peru

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Kees Mulder (2019)

Effect of biochar and organic fertilizer on papaya tree quality

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Naeem El Choufy (2019)

Possible human impact on mosquito oviposition in Brazil nut shells

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Jorge Rivera-Gonzalez & Clara Zheng (2019)

Analysis of the Peruvian wildlife pet trade phenomenon, according to Social Learning Theory

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Francesca Mannucci (2019)

An analysis of constraints and opportunities for sustainable inclusion of Madre de Dios farmers in cacao value chains

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Mitch Theisen (2019)

Ichtyofauna survey in Amazonian terra firme streams in Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru

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Quincy Knowlton (2019)

Herpetofaunal abundance and diversity in terra-firme forest and edge habitat

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Jonah Cruz (2019)

Intern Research Reports - 2018

A case study of arboreal termite (Insecta: Isoptera) tree selection at Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru

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Declan Cronin (2018)

Comparing butterfly diversity in different tropical habitats

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Allison Stoiser (2018)

An Inventory of Medicinal Plants at the Finca las Piedras site

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Jagoda Wrobel (2018)

Surveying armadillo activity in Finca Las Piedras

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Jemima Walker & Lona Lalić (2018)

Intern Research Reports - 2017

Discerning Diurnal Roost Preferences of Cavity Roosting Neotropical Bats for the Purpose of Designing Successful Artificial Bat Roosts

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Angela Brierly (2017)

Herpetofaunal diversity and abundance across an anthropogenic disturbance gradient in the Peruvian Amazon


Tobias Süess ​(2017)

Wild cacao survey and mapping in Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios

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Zephyr Dang (2017)

An Estimation of Carbon in the Living Above Ground Biomass of Finca las Piedras

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Laura Coomber (2017)

An artificial nesting box built for Scarlet Macaw conservation at Finca Las Piedras, Peru

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Maddy Stauder (2017)

Agricultural practices and their sustainability around the village Monterrey in the Las Piedras District

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João Vilca Soto (2017)

The promise and challenge of ecotourism as a source of funding for environmental NGOs in Peru

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Megan Nugent (2017)

Biannual reports

ASA Biannual Report 2019-2020


Read about the ASA's activities during 2019-2020. The report includes accomplishments in our research, reforestation, and education projects as well as financial information and a complete list of our team members, donors, and partners.

ASA Biannual Report 2017-2018


This report contains an overview of the ASA's activities during our inaugural first two years. Read about the establishment our projects in research, reforestation, and education projects, progress during 2017-2018, as well as financial information and a list of our team members, supporters, and partners.

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