During the one week of this Amazonian expedition the students will be based on research ships in the Yarapa river varzea forests which lie between the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve and the Tamshiyacu Community Reserve and is a truly exceptional wilderness area. There are two main objectives of the research programme;
The second objective will be made possible by developing long-term datasets at this new site that are gathered using standardised methods and effort as has already been completed for many years in the Pacaya-Samiria and Lago Preto reserves within this same landscape. Having data from three different sites across the Samiria-Yavari landscape will enable trends in the varzea forests in different parts of the landscape to be compared. Flooded forests are more sensitive to climate change than non-flooded forests, because very high water levels reduce the amount of dry land available to around 2% thereby affecting population levels of species such as agouti, deer and peccaries, whilst very low water levels cause problems for the fish populations and consequently dolphins.
Dolphins, wading birds and fishing bats are being used as indicators of the aquatic hydroscape. Macaws, small primates and understorey birds are used as indicators of the terrestrial landscape. Fish are used as indicators of the impact of fisheries, primates and other terrestrial wildlife as indicators of wildlife management of bushmeat, caimans as indicators of the recovery of species after excessive overhunting and turtles as indicators of intensive restocking management.
Expeditions from December to March are in the high water season, and expedition from April to November are in the low water season. During their week in the Amazon the students will be undertaking two main tasks: helping with the biodiversity surveys and completing an Amazonian wildlife and conservation course.
Students will be split into small groups and will have the opportunity to take part in the following research projects over the course of the week. Each student will be expected to join one of the morning and one of the afternoon/evening activities alongside assisting with data entry.
The students will also be completing an Amazonian Wildlife and Conservation course, which comprises of lectures and related activities/discussions on Amazon geography and biodiversity, flooded forest and upland forest ecology, conservation strategies in the Amazon, survey methods, Samiria-Yavari landscape birds, mammals of the Samiria-Yavari landscape, Amazonian fish, amphibians and reptiles, wildlife monitoring and calculating sustainable hunting levels, and examples of best practice conservation management in the Amazon. During the course the students will also get the opportunity to visit an indigenous Cocama community.
The primary study site is an area of seasonally flooded forest that connects the Pacaya-Samira National Reserve and the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Community Reserve. Surveys are conducted in the forest and white-water systems of the Lower Yarapa River from the confluence with the Amazon upriver towards its origin in the Ucayali river. A secondary field site extends from a base within an Amazonian community in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Community Reserve, surveying the black water system of the Tahuayo River and surrounding forests. The overarching goal of this project is to help conserve the Peruvian Amazon through field research that provides the science base for biodiversity conservation. Community-based conservation dominates the landscape of the western Amazon with large community-based reserves, community co-managed reserves and indigenous territories covering 98,800km². Opwall teams work closely with local communities, with particular areas of focus studying sustainable use of fish and bushmeat to support community management, and monitoring the recovery of endangered species such as giant river otter and jaguar populations. The flooded forests (várzea) of this area are particularly susceptible to global climate change which appears to be increasing the frequency of extreme flooding events and low water periods. Research will be conducted into how wildlife and people have been impacted by recent historic floods and droughts, especially in the flooded forests where effects have been devastating for terrestrial mammals, such as tapir, peccaries, armadillos and large rodents. Opwall teams contribute to one of the most extensive datasets in the Amazon and this information, managed by our Peruvian partners Fund Amazonia, is showing the impact of climate change on a range of taxa and on the livelihoods of indigenous people. It is being used to inform management decisions for community reserves and protected areas, and policy decisions for conserving the Peruvian Amazon.
The costs of a school group expedition can be highly variable. There is a standard fee paid to Opwall for all expeditions but the location you are flying from, the size of your group, and how you wish to pay all impact the overall cost.
You can choose to book the expedition as a package (which includes your international flights) or you can organise your travel yourself and just pay us for the expedition related elements.
If you are booking your expedition as a package, you also have the option of being invoiced as a group, or on an individual basis.