Amphibians are a highly diverse class, with species specialising across all habitats (terrestrial, aquatic, arboreal and fossorial). The forests of the Yarapa-Tahuayo rivers are composed of seasonally flooded forests and transitional upland forests which create several unique habitats for amphibians resulting in very interesting species assemblages and high abundances of specialist species within the area. Climate change has been having a huge impact on flooded forests of western Amazonia in recent years, resulting in extreme periods of flooding and drought. This in turn is affecting habitat availability for certain specialist species of amphibians present. Data is collected across the main macrohabitats (flooded forests, transitional forests and floating meadows) using visual encounter surveys via transects on the terrestrial habitat and quadrats from a boat on the floating meadows. One project could look at how species assemblages differ across the macrohabitats and try to determine specialist and generalist species. Another project could examine niche separation within each macrohabitat. Climate change could also be linked into a project to determine whether changing habitat availabilities are influencing species presence or habitat choices.
If you would like to do a dissertation or thesis with us but your university hasn’t started dissertation planning or the project selection process, that’s no problem. You can cancel your expedition with zero cancellation charges up until the 15th of April of if you provide documentation from your university saying that they won’t support completing a dissertation project with us.
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 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 still usually stays around 20 degrees.
Fitness level required
Low. This can be both a terrestrial and boat based project so you will be in the forest for parts of the surveys. There are no hills and you will be on the marked transect but the terrain can be muddy and quite uneven. The boat based aspect is not physically demanding. For this project you can expect to be on survey until quite late in the evening.
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.