The REGUA orchid cathedral is receiving its 80% sun filter netting which will reduce the temperature significantly.
Obviously orchids are found across the entire gradient, from sea level to 2000m above sea level and the challenge is to provide an ambience that responds to their climatic demands.
We have received sound advice with regard to the structure of the building, how to provide the best environment for the specimens and most importantly, the ongoing management of the orchids. Rosário Braga (a biologist and former head of OrquidaRio, the RJ orchid club) and Helmut Seehawer, a long-standing friend of REGUA and orchid expert have been invaluable in their support.
We have been warned that watering is not a simple task, and we aim to have a semi-automatic sprinkler system to support the environment of the Cathedral. As Helmut Seehawer advised, air movement is essential and we are using wire netting on the lower section to allow for wind movement. Helmut has also suggested we use as much natural forest compost as possible.
By the end of the year, the REGUA orchid cathedral will be open to the public, an addition to the existing trail network revealing the jewels of the forest.
When Brian Rodgers came to visit in June, he brought his drone with a new lens that promised great opportunities. The drone offers remarkable views that can really capture the beauty of the landscape here at REGUA, it is also a very necessary tool to help us understand the importance of the conservation work going on.
Supported by SavingNature, Brian arrived with two students Ian Handler and Ryan Huang from Duke University, in North Carolina, USA. Their plan was to help set up camera traps, in strategic places around the reserve, and also to continue their scientific research at the Golden Lion Tamarin project in Silva Jardim.
Brian helped REGUA secure the Vecchi land corridor last year, an important strategic purchase to link the Vecchi ridgeline with Onofre Cunha, land which REGUA already owns and protects. Brian was delighted to see the progress we are making in planting this pasture land to create a forested link.
This diurnal snake, was seen by a group of visitors on our Green Trail, whilst walking in the forest with Adilei.
Although not venomous, they can still give a nasty bite if threatened. Adelie knows how to deal with this sort of situation as he has spent all his life in these forests. One of the group got this amazing footage, standing at a safe distance.
These snakes lay eggs and are active on the ground and in trees. Their prey are mammals and birds, including eggs and nestlings.
Their defence strategy is to puff up their forebody and shake their tail. This individual seemed quite relaxed and only shook the tail as it left the group by slithering under a nearby fallen tree.
If you are interested in treks and walks in the forest, we are definitely the right place to come to. REGUA has over 45 kilometres of well-marked trails with breath-taking views and stunning scenery.
It’s a good chance to get to know the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and its superb attributes. This wonderful area is quite rightly considered one of the most biodiverse regions of the world. Our local team of are well experienced and have walked these trails many times, over the years. Yet every time we find something new.
The trail pictured is the Cachoeiras de Macacu to Guapiaçu trail, a walk of 14 km, and it will take you minimum of 4 hours. There are waterfalls and fresh cool water spots and even places to swim on a hot day.
Above all, trails of this kind offer walkers a chance to see the importance of what REGUA is trying to do, restoring and protecting the forests to allow their ecosystem to function healthily. Isn’t this our responsibility?
You will have recently read that the US charity SavingSpecies helped REGUA acquire a parcel of land. Once planted with trees this will be an important corridor linking two established forests.
We recently received students from Duke University in USA. The three students; Bridgette Keane, Chiara Klein and Jacob Levine set up camera traps in both remnant forest blocks to record the fauna present. In time, and once the replanting programme has been completed in the new plot, there will be comparisons with what is using the “new” corridor.
They also planned to take panorama images with the famous ‘Gigapan’ system, a system developed for taking many high resolution photos and stitching them together to make a massive panorama photo.
Having set up their project, these delightful students left us to go onto the Golden Lion Tamarin project. After three days REGUA’s bird guide, Adilei and I collected the video material to see what was moving in these patches of forest.
The results were startling for we recorded a Cracid; Rusty-margined Guan (Penelope superciliaris), the less common Grey-fronted Dove (Leptotila rufaxilla) and White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi). The mammals were brilliant with a tail(!) of Brazilian Squirrel (Sciurus aestuans), several Agoutis (Dasyprocta leporina), and Common Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis). To top it all Crab-eating Raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) was also captured on film. These species are using the forest to forage, which is great for seed dispersal and helps the nutrient cycle.
Most Neotropical mammals are nocturnal, and the use of camera traps helps us understand which animals are present in these forests. We are really impressed that these species appear to be quite common in this fragment border and this is the required base line information for us to monitor the forest corridor once it is planted.
To view the Agouti video, published with the kind permission of the Duke University project, click here
REGUA’s Keeper of the Wild ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira funded by the World Land Trust found this banded lizard on the red trail at around 600 metres above sea level. This lizard has very short legs and if were not for the scales on its body, one could mistake it for a salamander, but salamander are not currently known to be further south than Roraima, Northern Brazil.
We had help to identify this individual from Canada’s naturalist Mike Patrikeev who stated it was Banded Galliwasp, Diploglossus fasciatus of the Anguidae family.
Indeed this example measured close to 30 centimetres in length, and Rildo said that in all his years as a ranger, he had only once seen this species before.
There is a similar Banded Galliwasp (Diploglossus lessonae) endemic to Brazil’s Northeast region, rated “Least Concern” by the IUCN, but I wonder whether it’s Atlantic Rainforest cousin is as common? In fact, we all wonder when we shall see another one.
Our readers will no doubt be following new on the construction of our extraordinary Orchid Cathedral, made possible by a generous grant from the San Diego Orchid Society and Peter Tobias.
Though progress is slow, the Cathedral will be ready for our dear friend Helmut Seehawer, set to arrive this coming April. Helmut, now 82 is to continue his inventory of the orchids here at REGUA. We are delighted because he still has the energy and all the experience in identifying the species on the mountains here at REGUA.
To think that the total number of species of orchids in the world stands at 20 thousand of which 5% or one thousand are found in the mountains here at REGUA and environs. Bathed in cloud forest and stretching from over 2,000 metres to sea level, we can only being to appreciate how lucky we are.
The Orchid Cathedral, a sun-screened area of 300m², will feature a rocky base, tree ferns mixed with palms, ground plants and some native small Myrtle trees, such as Eugenia sp, to which orchids will be attached. Posts will also hold some of these epiphytes. A path meandering through the house will allow visitors to see why these plants are so special, and interpretation signage will help the visitor understand the delicate role they play in nature and why so many people get excited about them.
Should any volunteer wish to come and help us organize the interior, we would love to hear from you!!
It is getting exciting around here and already an air of expectation is setting in.
For more information on volunteering at REGUA see here.
It’s amazing how things can change in a year. It’s just over a year since I was last at REGUA, and so much has happened.
Most noticeable to the lodge visitor is the tapir release project where five Lowland or Brazilian Tapir (TapirusTerrestris) have been released at the nearby wetlands, they often make the short trip up to the lodge garden. It is surreal to see guests at night photographing moths at the moth wall, with a rather large mammal wandering past on its evening patrol, both seemingly unaware of the other.
The Tapir have managed to get food off the garden feeding stations so a suspended higher-level table has now been made. The Common Marmoset (Callithrixjacchus) were a little perplexed initially but soon mastered the art of a trapeze-style dash across the wires. Some continue the more traditional approach – head first down a nearby tree.
The lodge orchid garden continues to develop, and with ferns and bromeliads amongst the rocks it makes a breeding area for house wren and feeding area for hummingbirds, the lantana and milkweed are doing well, again both favourites with the hummingbirds.
Other changes may not directly affect our lodge guests but they are making a huge difference to local visitors, including school visits, with a new car park by the conservation centre – hopefully no more buses getting stuck in the mud! A new accessible trail has been created to Amanda’s hide, bringing opportunities where previously it would have been impossible for some people to enjoy the delights of the wetlands.
On the project itself, we reached the milestone figure of 500,000 trees planted and continue to plant – over 69,000 trees were planted in the 2017/18 planting season alone, thanks to the generous donations from many of our supporters.
Wouldn’t one million trees planted be a great figure to reach in the future!
With more key land areas coming under REGUA’s care, increased wildlife corridors are being protected and created in the Guapiaçu catchment area. This will extend the range for many species of wildlife and enable them to strengthen in population, increase genetic diversity and increase the overall biodiversity of the valley.
Our Rangers continue to patrol the forest, adding security and monitoring the wildlife, whilst there has been a huge reduction in hunting in the area since the project began, we cannot stop our vigilance even though there is very little evidence of hunting seen or heard now.
If you would like to support REGUA’s work, full details on how to make a donation are available from our “donate” page here.
If you would like to volunteer, please see our link here for full details.
Climate change is predicted to increase the intensity of extreme climatic events such as severe droughts. Littleis known on how freshwater ecosystems respond to severe droughts in the neotropics. Terrestrial organic matter, primarily derived from plant litter, represents an important food resource in these nutrient limited freshwater ecosystems.
ThePhDprojectcurrently being undertaken by Camille Bonhommefrom Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro(UFRJ) wants to investigate the effects of quantity of terrestrial mattersubsidies on the response of the recipient aquatic communitiesto drought stress.
Camille will use tank bromeliadsalong with their associated aquatic invertebrates as model ecosystems. Tank bromeliads are neotropical plants. Their interlocking leaves form rosettes that collect rainwater and dead leaves from the overhanging trees, creating an aquatic habitat for various species of invertebrates.
In the field experiment, bromeliads will receive either few or high quantities of leaf litter inputs. After a natural colonisation and equilibration period, the diversity and composition of the aquatic invertebratecommunity that colonised the bromeliadswill be assessed and compared to the quantity of subsidised resources. Thebromeliad micro-ecosystems will then be submitted to a drying and rewetting event, to assess their resistance and resilience.
Camille hopes to show firstly that the variations in leaf litter provision will determine the composition and quality of the colonisation (includingnumber of species, food chain length and overall community composition).
Secondly, that the leaf litter quantity will affect the stability of the community submitted to drought, expecting the higher provision of leaf litter to give greater support, by offering a “buffering” effectto the community. It is hoped to show that leaf litter will provide short term refuges for invertebrates and be more attractive for recolonisation after the drought.
We look forward to seeing the result of Camille’s research.
Michael Patrikeev, a long-standing friend and supporter of REGUA, sent this amazing photograph of stingless bees, Scaptotrigona xanthotricha, also known as Yellow Mandaguari. Along with this explanation of the behaviour taking place:
“This species, restricted to the Atlantic Forest of the south-east Brazil, inhabits primary and mature secondary humid forest, where it builds nests in cavities and crevices in trees.
The image shows the bees guarding the elaborate structures at the entrance to their nest. These structures, resembling tree fungi, are made of wax.
Note the claw marks below the nest on the left. These bees are known to produce a good quality honey, and perhaps some mammal raided the nest earlier.”
This is just one of the multitude of forest species protected in REGUA. Each piece of information we find continues to reinforce the importance of the work which the REGUA Team and its supporters make possible.