During the two weeks 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 late June until August are in the low water season (water levels falling from June to August). During their two weeks 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 two weeks. 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, 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 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).
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.