• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

This project runs for four weeks and is based on a historic research ship moored in the Yarapa river between the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve and the TamshiyacuTahuayo Community Reserve. During the first week between helping on the various projects there will be lectures on Amazonian wildlife and conservation. You will then be rotating between a series of projects including boat-based surveys of pink and grey dolphin populations, gillnet and rod surveys of the fish communities, and point counts of the macaws. In the evening, you will have the opportunity to join fishing bat, amphibian and caiman surveys. As water levels drop, surveys of the turtles are included and identification of nesting sites. During these falling water level periods, vast numbers of water birds migrate to this site to predate on the fish fry that are returning to the river from the flooded forest. During this time the numbers of wading birds will be recorded daily using boatbased transect surveys. Foot based surveys of the vãrzea habitat include forest structure surveys, mist net surveys of the understorey birds, camera trap surveys for the big cats, tapirs, peccary and deer, and distance-based surveys for the large mammals and 8 primate species commonly encountered. Over the four weeks you should get an in-depth understanding of the survey techniques used and see many of the iconic Amazonian species.

Peru - Amazonian Research Objectives

The Amazonian forests of Loreto, Peru are situated in the western Amazon basin and harbour some of the greatest mammalian, avian, floral and fish diversity on Earth. Operation Wallacea is joining a series of projects in this area that have been running since 1984 organised by FundAmazonia and various conservation groups, universities and government agencies. The vision of these projects is to set up long-term biodiversity conservation using a combination of community-based and protected area strategies. The research and conservation activities use an interdisciplinary approach to find a balance between the needs of the indigenous people and the conservation of the animals and plants.

The project is based in the 50,000 km2 Samiria-Yavari landscape as defined by the Wildlife Conservation Society and includes the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the Yarapa river, theTamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve, the Yavari-Miri river and the Lago Preto Conservation Concession – see https://peru.wcs.org/en-us/Wild-Places/Mara%C3%B1%C3%B3n-Ucayali.aspx.

Our partners are working in all these areas and are establishing long term data sets on annual changes in key taxa from the Pacaya-Samiria reserve, Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve and the Lago Preto Concession.  In 2019 our partners would like the Opwall teams to establish a new long term data set but this time concentrating on the Yarapa river site, and will continue with the annual monitoring in previous locations.  As a result of this development, long term biodiversity data from 4 separate varzea and terra firma areas across the landscape will be available to compare how biodiversity is changing across the whole region.

The Yarapa study site will be on the landmass that connects the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve. These two protected areas almost touch each other, and the flooded forest habitat at the Yarapa site consists of varzea habitat with riverine, open understory, levee, liana, palm swamp and tree falls. These are high nutrient ecosystems with heavy sediment water flowing through the understory during the high-water season.

The flooded forests (várzea) of this landscape are particularly susceptible to global climate change which appears to be increasing the frequency of extreme flooding events and low water periods. During the height of the annual floods, much of the varzea area is flooded, but this can be as high as 98% in extreme flooding events, confining land-based mammals (agouti, deer, peccaries, armadillos and tapir) to small areas of land and thereby significantly impacting their population levels. In times of extreme low water, fish populations and their associated predators (dolphins, river birds and caimans) are under stress. The datasets managed by Fund Amazonia for this landscape, which is based on the annual surveys completed by the Opwall teams and others, are the most extensive in any of the Peruvian reserves and is showing the impact of global climate change on a range of taxa and on the livelihoods of indigenous people. This information is being used to make management decisions for the reserves and policy decisions for conserving the Peruvian Amazon including hunting quotas for the indigenous communities (see https://fundamazonia.org/peccary-pelt-certification.html).

  • Opwall fee
  • Cost of international flights in to and out of Iquitos.
  • Cost of internal travel – which includes transport to and from the start and end points of the expedition, plus any hotels you might require. This costs around £150 or $194 on average. Extra nights’ accommodation in Iquitos costs around £23 or $33.
  • Park entrance fees – £40 or $52.
  • Vaccinations and prophylactic medicines – cost can vary depending on your healthcare provider.
  • All prices in GBP or USD unless specified.

Climate
The temperature varies very little in the area where we are based in Peru. It averages between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius (70 and 90 Fahrenheit). The humidity will usually always be over 75%, which can make it feel quite hot and sticky. During the evenings, the temperature drops and it can feel much cooler but will stay around 20 degrees.

Fitness level required
Low. There are some hikes during the terrestrial surveys. There are no hills but the terrain can be muddy and quite uneven, which can be a little more demanding. Boat based surveys are not physically demanding.

Creature comforts
Facilities in Peru are on a research boat where you will sleep in bunk beds in a shared cabin. The bathroom is also shared and you can expect hand flushed toilets and cold showers. You will have no cell phone signal or wifi.

Locations

  • Peru
  • Rio Amazonas and the historical river boats

Want to get involved with this project?

Preparation

Want to get involved with this project?

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Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
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