Immature stages and new host record of Taygetis rufomarginata Staudinger, 1888 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)
By Quin Baine, Gabriela Polo, Shinichi Nakahara, & Geoff Gallice
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.
Immature stages of Splendeuptychia quadrina (Butler, 1869)
(Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)
By Joseph See, Shinichi Nakahara, & Geoff Gallice
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).
Other peer-reviewed publications
Botanic gardens are an untapped resource for studying the functional ecology of tropical plants
By Tim Perez et al.
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 threat of road expansion in the Peruvian Amazon
By Geoff Gallice, Gustavo Larrea-Gallegos, & Ian Vázquez-Rowe
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 sustain- able 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
By Gustavo Larrea-Gallegos, Ian Vázquez-Rowe, & Geoff Gallice
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.
Posters & presentations
A case study of arboreal termite (Insecta: Isoptera) tree selection at Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios, Peru
By Declan Cronin
Abstract: Knowledge associated with the processes responsible for termite tree selection for gallery sites remains limited. While tree diameter and chemical properties seem to be important factors influencing tree choice, results of previous studies are not coherent, which is the reason why more research is required. In this study, I predicted termites would select trees based on their size, condition, and chemical defenses associated with the tree. Here I show that termite tree selection is dependent on diameter at breast height (DBH), chemical defense of the tree and the condition of the tree. The research concludes that termites are aware of resource quality and appear not to choose locations randomly but are selective of location.
An Inventory of Medicinal Plants at the Finca las Piedras site
By Jagoda Wrobel
Abstract: The goal of this inventory was to begin making a list of medicinal plants present at the Finca Las Piedras site. As no inventory was yet present, the project began by reading around the subject, and collating information to create a list of possible species. Furthered by knowledge of onsite researchers and local workers, the Finca Las Piedras rainforest, food forest, plant nursery and Aguajal were scouted for the plants. The project currently has a list of onsite plants with images taken on site; and a list of other species which could possibly be found at a later date.
Comparing butterfly diversity in different tropical habitats
By Allison Stoiser
Abstract: Butterflies serve as indicator species of habitat health and type, with disturbance introducing more common and generalist species to an area, possibly making diversity indices unreliable in displaying effects of disturbed or agricultural practices on butterfly diversity. The region of Madre de Dios, located in southwestern Peru, has the highest butterfly diversity in the world, and faces increasing threats of habitat destruction due to monoculture and mining operations. Therefore, I compared community compositions of butterflies in aguajal, terra firme forest, and an agroforestry system in Madre de Dios to see just how different the communities are as a baseline and compare their diversity indices. Through transects carried out in July 2018, I found that the most disturbed habitat, the agroforestry system, did have the highest diversity index and butterfly abundance, but the aguajal had the most unique butterfly fauna. This study shows that in tropical forests, habitat differences do lead to different butterfly species compositions and in order to conserve butterfly diversity, different habitats should be protected, even those that seem to have the lowest diversity indices.
Surveying armadillo activity in Finca Las Piedras
By Jemima Walker & Lona Lalić
Abstract: Within the Madre de Dios region, four different species of armadillo are known to range and at least three of these species have been recorded previously within Finca las Piedras. Giant armadillos (Priodontes maximus) are one of these species frequenting the area and are currently at risk of extinction according to the IUCN. In this study we surveyed the forested area for armadillo burrows and feeding holes, as well as setting up camera traps at two Giant Armadillo burrows and one feeding hole. This allowed us a further insight into the behaviour of armadillos and of other species which benefit from the underground structures that Giant Armadillos create. Positive correlations were found between the width and heights at the entrances to armadillo burrows, feeding holes and Giant Armadillos feeding holes. Armadillo burrows and feeding holes were mainly found in open areas over termite mounds or beneath trees. Camera traps showed that rodents commonly visited and foraged through soil mounds by new Giant Armadillo burrows and feeding holes, as did Brown Agoutis and Pacas. Whilst at an old Giant Armadillo burrow, a South American Coati and a Brown Agouti were recorded entering, yet no rodents were recorded. We presume this is due to the lack of a soil mound at an old burrow in which to forage. Three bird species were also recorded investigating soil mounds at the new burrow and feeding hole, including the Blue-Crowned Motmot. Continued surveying of the property as well as long-term camera traps would allow a more thorough comprehension of the armadillo community at FLP and their importance to other species present.
Discerning Diurnal Roost Preferences of Cavity Roosting Neotropical Bats for the Purpose of Designing Successful Artificial Bat Roosts By Angela Brierly
Abstract: In the Neotropics bats pollinate plants, spread seeds and keep insect populations in check. However, with deforestation and selective logging, many preferred diurnal roosting sites are destroyed, which potentially lowers the concentration of colonies of certain species of bats available for pollination, propagation, and insect predation. In order to encourage and preserve the essential ecosystem services of bats, we need to understand the diurnal roosting preferences of existing bat colonies.
An artificial nesting box built for Scarlet Macaw conservation at Finca Las Piedras, Peru
By Maddy Stauder
Abstract: A nesting box, constructed of wood, was built for scarlet macaw (Ara macao) conservation in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. Scarlet macaws are important seed dispersers and are a charismatic species that stand as a poster- child for conservation. Their population is declining because deforestation affects their reproductive rate, which is already naturally low. The logging of mature canopy trees, particularly ironwood (Dipteryx micrantha), deprives macaws of the large cavities they require for nesting. The purpose of adding artificial nesting space is to help macaws reproduce and to enrich the jungle experience that ASA offers.
Herpetofaunal diversity and abundance across an anthropogenic disturbance gradient in the Peruvian Amazon
By Tobias Süess
Abstract: The department of Madre de Dios at the southwestern corner of the Amazon basin is a biodiversity hotspot with many species of reptiles and amphibians. These species, especially frogs and toads, are among the ones that suffer most from current land use changes. The recent increase of agriculture and population growth are transforming vast expanses of rainforest into grasslands. These transformations change the landscape into a mosaic of anthropogenic and natural habitats with varying degrees of contrast. To track the effects of these changes on herpetofauna composition and structure, a combination of drift fences and visual encounter surveys (VES) in the forest, edge, and grassland were employed. Each drift fence had three 5 m long arms separated by 120° that are buried 10 cm into the soil and were 50 cm high, with four buckets to catch specimens. In total 20 individuals of five species were caught by three drift fence arrays during 15 days and nights of trapping. This included two rare species of reptiles that inhabit the soil. While the sample size was too small to conduct statistical comparisons, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index anecdotally appeared to differ among the grassland, forest edge and forest interior habitats. The edge habitat had the highest number of effective species, likely because it can be used by both grassland and forest interior species, as it is a transition habitat. On the other hand, individuals in the edge may also increase their movement to reach more suitable habitat, increasing their likelihood of capture.
Agricultural practices and their sustainability around the village Monterrey in the Las Piedras District
By João Vilca Soto
Abstract: The current political climate of Peru has had significant effects on the Madre de Dios region. Many migrants have arrived in the area over the last few decades, and with the addition of the Interoceanic Highway there has been an increase in the agricultural action occuring in Madre de Dios. With efforts by the government to increase the productivity of farmland, there has been an implementation of various agricultural techniques that are detrimental to the sustainability of the environment and the economy. The goal of this research was to gain a better understanding of how farmers in the town of Monterrey, in the Las Piedras district, work their farmland, and to find out how sustainable the agricultural system currently is. I conducted 12 informal interviews with farmers and solicited information from the local outpost of the Ministry of Agriculture. Most farmers grow papayas, watermelons, or corn, using modernized techniques and relying on heavy fertilizer use. Based on my research, these practices are unsustainable for the long run and I suggest holding educational seminars for farmers to implement sustainable techniques such as crop rotation and crop diversity to create a system that will promote the economic, environmental, and social health of the community.
Wild cacao survey and mapping in Finca Las Piedras, Madre de Dios
By Zephyr Dang
Abstract: Identifying wild cacao trees is important for domestication and gene preservation. The search was carried out in Finca las Piedras from July to August. In the end of August, there is 18 T. cacao and 3 T. bicolor. At first look, 18 T.cacao seems to be distributed in three main clumps. However, more searches should be carried out before conclusion. In the near future, phenology and agronomy trait project could be carry out with the found cacao trees.
The promise and challenge of ecotourism as a source of funding for environmental NGOs in Peru
By Megan Nugent
Abstract: This paper is intended to answer the question of how NGOs can authentically incorporate ecotourism as a source of funding without interrupting progressive work, while also further contributing their core missions geared towards protecting the environment. The model I have used to investigate this business opportunity is comprised of different methods working hands on particularly with current NGOs, ecotourism companies, and personal communication with locals of the Madre de region in Peru. My goal for this research is to support the opportunity for individuals to participate hands on work in an environment that lacks the support from its own government to potentially gain support and inspire others to contribute to particular organizations missions and successes.
An Estimation of Carbon in the Living Above Ground Biomass of Finca las Piedras
By Laura Coomber
Abstract: Climate change is a massive issue globally, with the implications if mitigation does not occur widespread and irreversible. Land use changes are one of the major producers of greenhouse gasses, producing more carbon annually than the whole of the transport sector. As such, forest conservation has the potential the play a significant role in climate change mitigation. Research into to carbon storage therefore has the potential to provide important information. In this study, the amount of carbon in the above ground living biomass of the forested area of Finca Las Pierdras, the research station for the NGO Alliance for a Sustainable Amazing, was estimated. This was done using ground based forest inventory methods, with sampling carried out across 10 modified gentry plots (50 x 10m). The average biomass per hectare was 404.02 T dry weight ha-1, with the average carbon per hectare being 189.88 T C ha-1 (see table 1). Assuming a forested area in the property of 23 hectares, the total above ground living biomass is 9,292.23 T dry weight ha-1 and the stored carbon is 4,367.24 T C ha-1. However, it should be noted that there was a very large variability in carbon storage across the site, with biomass ranging from 644.74 to 203.088 T dry weight ha-1, making an accurate estimate difficult. These findings suggest a significant carbon store, highlighting the significant contribution that degraded tropical forests can play in climate change mitigation. Forest inventories such as these also have the potential for application in REDD+ plus projects, which would bring more funding for more sustainability projects. There is also a large scope for further similar work, such as comparison of different forest types.