Documenting Life at Los Amigos: Photo Guide to Reptiles of Los Amigos Now Available

Leptophis ahetulla, one of the hundreds of species found in Los AmigosAfter four years of intensive efforts to document the reptile species that live within the Los Amigos Conservation Concession, a team of experts has recently completed a detailed catalog of more than 80 reptile species.

Hundreds of species are still expected to be recorded in the coming years, and as the list grows, so does the chance of engaging the Peruvian government and other organizations in implementing new conservation activities.

“Knowledge of amphibian and reptile communities across Amazonian forests is crucial for understanding how highly diverse the region is and how important it is to preserve its diversity,” explains Rudolf von May, a Peruvian Ph.D. student at Florida International University. Von May has done field work at many sites in Peru, including the Manu Biosphere Reserve and Rio Abiseo National Park, and is currently completing his thesis on “Anuran beta diversity across forest types in a lowland Amazonian rainforest” at the Los Amigos Biological Station.

Along with colleagues Louise Emmons, Guillermo Knell, Jennifer Jacobs, and Lily Rodriguez, von May has now published a downloadable field guide, available at Field Museum of Natural History’s website. Also available at the Field Museum website are guides to several groups of plants prepared by noted botanist Robin Foster and colleagues.

The reptile plates include some species from Peru’s Manu National Park and Tambopata Reserve. Both sites lie adjacent to the Los Amigos biological station and thus share similar ecosystems and species. A similar set of guides is currently being planned for the amphibians at Los Amigos.

“Laminated guides to identify tropical organisms are important tools for research and education,” finalizes von May.

“The study of these organisms and studies on plant and animal life will contribute to regional strategies for conservation.”

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Atrium, the Latest Breed of Technology for Bio-Research

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) recently released Atrium, an online biodiversity information system that provides scientists, students, and the general public with access to biodiversity data, images, maps, and more for the Andes-Amazon region of southeastern Peru, and beyond.

Atrium facilitates the collection, organization, and sharing of organismal and ecological information generated by the biologists, ecologists, students, and local field assistants conducting studies in the region from the different ACA field sites: Los Amigos and Wayqechas Research Stations.

With a standard Web browser, viewers can log in to Atrium and search over 5,000 collections that compose the Peruvian plant specimen data and browse over more than 15,000 images. And they can compare plant species between different areas of the tropics, especially between Peru and the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.

The development and design of Atrium was partially funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation under the initiative to increase knowledge of the AndesAmazon area and to develop new technologies to document and disseminate information about the species and ecosystems in the region.

In 2004, John Janovec, Ph.D., BRIT botanist and head of AABP; Amanda Neill, BRIT collections manager and co-director of AABP; and Mathias Tobler, doctoral student and co-director of AABP, began defining the types of data necessary for a biodiversity information system. Since the release of the initial version in August 2005, the team has added new features, including custom field guides, satellite imagery, bibliographic records, and live mapping of specimen locations.

Moreover, the team has developed a portable version of Atrium that can be taken into the field by researchers, allowing easy access to data and images without requiring an Internet connection. Many new components and datasets will be added during 2006-2007. Atrium can be seen online at:

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Los Amigos Forever : 360,000 acres of the Amazon’s richest forest to be permanently protected

Los Amigos comparison, in 2001 tapir populations were hunted throughout Los Amigos. Today we find their tracks a stone's throw away from our research stationAmazon Conservation Association (ACA) and its Peruvian counterpart, the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA) are establishing a US$ 1 million trust fund to ensure permanent protection of the Los Amigos Conservation Concession. The trust fund will cover the basic costs of both protecting and monitoring the ecological health of the conservation concession.

Established in 2001, the Los Amigos Conservation Concession is an example of one of the most innovative tools in conservation. Prior to the creation of the Los Amigos Concession, illegal logging and hunting in the area was steadily increasing. The government of Peru lacked the resources to protect the forest and fauna of the area.

Today, thanks to the intervention and management of ACA/ACCA, all illegal logging and hunting activities have completely stopped. Wildlife populations are growing steadily, and ACA’s Research Program in Los Amigos has tremendously helped to increase our understanding of these Amazonian ecosystems.

In setting aside Los Amigos, the Peruvian Government has entrusted us with the care of a large tract of the biologically richest forest on earth. To ensure that this forest is permanently conserved, we need to raise $ 2.78 per acre!

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