Enthusiastic About the Amazon, Worlds Apart

Enthusiastic About the Amazon, Worlds Apart Students PresentingThese kids are separated by 6,097 km, but Enthusiastic About the Amazon, Worlds Apart Students Working Outsidethey’re pulling together. This spring in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy’s annual education fair, three 6th grade students raised money for ACA with a display on Amazon conservation. At the same time, schoolchildren from the small town of Boca Amigos were visiting ACA’s field station in Amazonian Peru, doing field work side by side with resident researchers.

The visit was part of our Science Saturday program, which every week brings together the researchers who’ve traveled thousands of kilometers to work at Los Amigos and the children who’ve lived there their whole lives. In one recent outing, Peruvian grad student Ursula Valdez and Colombian grad student Paulo Pulgarín showed the children how they capture birds in mist nets, measure and tag them, and then release them. More recently, Colombian grad student Adriana Guzmán and US grad student Jenny Jacobs led a how-to workshop on insect collections in the children’s community.

Thanks to our three allies at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy and to all who teach for, learn at, and get excited about the Science Saturdays.

For Those Who Totally Rocked, We Salute You!

Benefit Concert PosterOn 15 April 2007 the University of California, Davis Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and the UC-Davis Graduate School hosted a blues concert to benefit ACA.  All proceeds will go to our Pampas del Heath Project, which aims to conserve Bolivia’s Amazonian savanna ecosystem in partnership with Tacana indigenous communities.

At the concert more than 100 grad students, faculty, and other locals jitterbugged to a potent mix of bluegrass, Brazilian, acoustic, and blues/rock performers.Benefit Concert Performers

The Society for Conservation Biology, Davis Chapter is a grad-student run group (see http://scb.ucdavis.edu/about.htm) that provides a link between the world’s leading society of conservation biology professionals and one of the world’s top biology programs. The chapter’s work with a sister SCB chapter in Bolivia led them to ACA’s work in the Pampas, which led to the Biodiversity Blues Benefit Concert.

Our thanks to the performers, to the SCB Davis Chapter, to the UC-Davis Graduate School Association, and to everyone who shook it for the Pampas. We can hear you down here, and it sounds fantastic!



ACA Breaks the 100-Scholarship Mark at Los Amigos

Grantee Carlos Lazo from La Molina University
Grantee Carlos Lazo from La Molina University
Grantee Sandra Velazco from San Marcos University
Grantee Sandra Velazco from San Marcos University

ACA’s four year-old grant program for students and researchers working at Los Amigos recently gave its 100th grant. ACA has now given a total of 108 grants at Los Amigos: 36 to Peruvian undergraduates, 36 to graduate students, and the same number again to established researchers. Fully 60% of ACA grant winners to date have been Peruvian, helping drive a nationwide boom in biodiversity training and research.

Last month ACA awarded the first 15 grants in a similar program for Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Station. To see a list of the winning projects at Wayqecha, click here. The impact of these programs is easy to measure.

This year alone, they will help more than two dozen students from around the world defend undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. theses based on research done in the Amazon headwaters. Alumni from Los Amigos are now publishing theses and peer-reviewed papers at the rate of more than two per month, on everything from bird morphology to primate behavior to epiphyte distributions

Ensuring that the next generation of tropical scientists has first-hand experience working in the Amazon doesn’t come cheaply.  Over the last three years we’ve invested more than half a million dollars in direct grants to students and researchers.


A Major Addition to the Amazonian Library

Amazon River Fruits Book CoverFive extraordinary new books on Amazonia’s sprawling river system were recently published with the support of ACA. Authored by an international team of aquatic conservation ecologists, the books distill research results from across the Amazon basin into volumes packed with photos and written for a broad audience.  To further increase the books’ usefulness, they have been published in English, Spanish and Portuguese versions:

An Unexpected Ecosystem: The Amazon as Revealed by Fisheries
Rolando Barthem & Michael Goulding (English, Spanish and Portuguese)

Palms: Sentinels for Amazon Conservation
Michael Goulding & Nigel Smith (English, Spanish and Portuguese)

Amazon River Fruits: Flavors of Biodiversity
Nigel Smith, Rodolfo Vásquez & Walter Wust (English and Spanish)

Rio Branco: Fishes, Ecology and Conservation in Roraima
Efrem Ferreira, Jansen Zuanon, Bruce Forsberg, Michael Goulding & Sylvio Romerio Briglia-Ferreira (Portuguese)

Larvae of the Large Migratory Catfish
Rosseval Galdino Leite, Carlos Cañas, Bruce Forsberg, Ronaldo Barthem & Michael Goulding (Portuguese and Spanish)

The books were written by the Amazon Rivers Program team, which brings together scientists and students from the University of Florida, Brazil’s Museu Goeldi and National Institute for Amazonian Research, and Peru’s Museo de Historia Natural and Wust Ediciones. The team aims to gather and synthesize ecological data to provide the information needed to promote wetlands conservation in the Amazon Basin. Apart from inspiring a new generation of researchers and conservationists in these little-studied ecosystems, these books will have an important impact on headwaters protection and wetlands management in the world’s largest river system.

The research was funded by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the books will soon be available through the ACA website.

USAID Grant Boosts ACA’s Work in SW Amazonia

Red line indicates core program areas; yellow line indicates areas of influence

Last October a consortium of leading conservation organizations comprised of ACA, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, Fundación Puma, and the Fondo de las Americas, was awarded nearly eight million dollars by USAID as part of the Amazon Basin Conservation Initiative.

The funds will support an ambitious binational initiative across the Río Madre de Dios watershed, home to two national parks of global importance: Manu in Peru and Madidi in Bolivia.  The five-year initiative is designed to help mitigate imminent threats related to large-scale infrastructure projects like highway construction and oil and gas exploration, by strengthening local organizations that promote protected areas and the sustainable use of natural resources.  ACA’s long-term support of Brazil nut collectors along SE Peru’s soon-to-be-paved Interoceanic Highway is one of many projects that will receive a helping hand from ABCI.

The project will be getting up to speed in 2007, so stay tuned for more news in the next newsletter!