We have reached the minimum amount to get the funding! Thanks to all patrons! But this is only a small part of what we actually need. We really need to get significantly more funding for the expedition. Any contribution from now on will still be very helpful.
We will be exploring a part of the Amazon Basin that remains poorly known and is of conservation concern.
We will explore the Aripuana River, a right-bank tributary of the Madeira River in the southern Amazon. This region has received relatively little attention from biologists, and there have been many new species discovered in recent years including several birds, primates and a dwarf manatee.
An Endangered Ecosystem
Although the population density in this part of the Amazon rainforest is actually very small, this situation could soon change. Recently, there has been a higher incidence of forest exploitation at the river’s edge. However, the most worrisome issue is the construction of the Transamazonica highway, which could facilitate the exploitation of a large section of this area; in addition, there is the transformation of the natural environment to soy plantations, as well as increased hunting. Furthermore, several hydroelectric installations have been planned in the middle section of the river, which would modify the natural flow of water.
What is our objective?
We want to document the fauna in this area, with an emphasis on birds and mammals. We will focus on poorly known species to gather information on their distribution, ecology and conservation status. The information we gather will be important for conservation.
We will canoe the middle and lower sections of the river, establishing research camps along the way to survey the different habitats (flooded forests, varzea, fluvial islands, different types of forests on terra firme, white sand savannas, etc.). In these research camps we will cut transects through the forest to survey the fauna. Most of the field work will consist of direct observation and the identification of birds visually and through their vocalizations. We will install a network of camera traps to detect nocturnal mammals and other secretive species.
We will take sound equipment to record bird songs for documentation. The analysis of bird calls and songs is one of the most useful, non-invasive methods to identify and differentiate similar species.
The living conditions during the expedition will be basic. Our main transportation will be on a motorized canoe driven by a local boatman who knows the river well. We will set temporary campsites with no impact on the environment—merely a tarp to protect us from the rain and hammocks for sleeping. At the beginning of the expedition we will buy basic provisions, which we will complement with fish caught in the river. Depending on the possibilities, we will buy fresh provisions in the area.
The researchers will be Bret Whitney, Micah Riegner, Albert Burgas, and a local boatman.
Bret Whitney is a leading expert on the avifauna of Amazonia. His talent in identifying bird vocalizations has led him to discovery many new species, some of which are in the Aripuana region. He is an Honorary Research Associate at Louisiana State University and a tour leader for Field Guides.
Micah Riegner is from Arizona (USA). He is studying ecology at Prescott College, and will graduate in May 2016. His specialty is ornithology and he has extensive experience in the Amazon guiding tourists as well as serving as a Research Assistant. He is also a talented artist and nature illustrator.
Albert Burgas is from Catalonia, Spain. He is a biologist with a specialty in vertebrates, mainly birds and mammals. He has many years experience conducting field research in several countries in Europe and in Latin America. He is also an accomplished nature photographer.
We all have extensive field experience in the tropical forests of Central and South America, including Costa Rica and the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon.
How will your money be spent?
For now, we have modest economic assistane from various institutions, such as the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Granollers and Prescott College, which will allow us to pay for the plane tickets to Manaus and to buy a small amount of the equipment (one camera trap, etc.).
We still need funds to cover some important items. Some of the most important ones include:
• Fuel $1,500 US
• Rent for the boat and salary for the boatman $1,500 US
• Food $800 US
• Camera traps $1,000 US
• Other miscellaneous expenses $400 US
Every Euro is important to help us to cover as much as possible all those costs.
The more financing we get, the more camera traps we can buy, the better the results will be.
We are providing our own equipment, such as professional sound recording equipment, GPS and photographic equipment, as well as other gear and equipment for the Expedition.
Compensation in Exchange for Funding
Micah is a fine artist and is able to paint watercolor illustrations of high quality, as you can see in the following images.
Original illustration of male and female Rondonia bushbirds
Matted print of a Bare-eyed antbird
Open meeting with the researchers
All donors are invited to a presentation, after the return of the researchers, to share the results of the expedition. These presentations will take place in Arizona and Catalonia.
For a guided birding tour, led by either Albert or Micah, in Catalonia, Spain, or in Prescott, Arizona, respectively, it is necessary to arrange the date. It is advisable to have a group of 2 to 6 people. The outings would be between half a day and a whole day with the objective of discovering fauna—mainly birds—in the local natural area where each of the researchers are experts. For the 800€ contributions, it can be a 2 days guided tour, whit options to visit more and farther areas. Travel costs, overnight and meals are not included.
The Expedition will take place between June and July 2015. We will spend at least 4 weeks on the Aripuana River. We will arrive in Manaus a few days earlier to prepare the equipment, buy the food and fuel. In August, the camera traps we would have set up,will be collected.
We will be able to offer the compensations in exchange for funding in September 2015.