Two new jumping-spiders described from REGUA

Male Arnoliseus hastatus, one of two new species of jumping-spider from REGUA described in February 2020. The species name refers to the huge projection on the male chelicera, similar to a hasta, which is latin for spear. (© André Almeida Alves)
Male Arnoliseus hastatus, one of two new species of jumping-spider from REGUA described in February 2020. The species name refers to the huge projection on the male chelicera, similar to a hasta, which is latin for spear. (© André Almeida Alves)

As part of their ongoing survey of spiders and other arachnids from REGUA, Dr Renner Baptista and his students from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have described two new jumping-spiders (Salticidae) from the reserve: Arnoliseus hastatus and Arnoliseus falcatus.

Both species belong to the Arnoliseus, a genus of Brazilian jumping-spiders described only as recently as 2002. To date, both of these new species are known only from REGUA.

These additions bring the number of spiders recorded at REGUA to an astonishing 425 species, and Renner reports that the species richness at REGUA is still is going up fast! A species list for REGUA will be published on our website soon.

To read the paper describing the new species click here.

Guapiaçu III Petrobras socio-environmental funded project (2020-2022)

The Guapiaçu III team (© Breno Viana)
The Guapiaçu III team (© Breno Viana)

REGUA is very pleased to announce that Petrobras Socio-Environmental renewed the funding of the GGV or now the Guapiaçu III programme. The project continues with its objectives in restoration and education. Aside strengthening the Atlantic Forest ecosystem at REGUA through further tree planting, and continuing in supporting education, a new element will be the support for the current tapir reintroduction programme.

Forest restoration: A mixture of tree planting and natural regeneration on 100 hectares will occur in the Guapiaçu watershed, as well as monitoring of Petrobras funded 260 hectares with the aim to measure carbon sequestration. Native trees are planted in a mixture of pioneer, early secondary and climax species. In addition this project will identify and select a further 190 hectares within the watershed as part of a restoration data bank.

Environmental education: Primary and Secondary Schools will continue to visit REGUA on the “Grande Vida trail” which runs from the start of the Yellow Trail to the wooden bridge. The first 400 metres of the trail have been adapted to host physically handicapped visitors. Self-explanatory posters along the trail describe some forest processes and some of the conservation work carried out at REGUA. The project team will visit kindergartens in both Cachoeiras de Macacu and Itaborai municipalities.

GGV will continue with the water quality monitoring programme involving 80 Secondary students trained by the team to monitor Guapiaçu, Macacu and Caceribu rivers water quality at determined sampling sites along each river (both upstream and downstream urban areas) to produce data on the rivers’s physical-chemical characteristics. The team will also be studying biological indicators of water quality.

Tapir reintroduction support programme: Guapiaçú III Petrobras Socio-Environmental project will sponsor the transport, the telemetry equipment, promotion and community outreach programme in the area. A futher six tapirs will be released at REGUA as from June 2020.

REGUA interview with talk: Wildlife

Last week, Allan Archer of talk: Wildlife interviewed Lee Dingain of the REGUA UK Team about the work that REGUA is doing to conserve and restore the Atlantic Forest of the upper Guapiaçu valley. The conversation covers topics such as the habitats and biodiversity at REGUA, the threats to the forest and biodiversity, reforestation, wetland restoration, the tapir reintroduction, and how to visit REGUA. To watch the interview visit the talk: Wildlife YouTube channel or click below.

80 hawkmoth species now recorded at REGUA!

<em>Aellopos ceculus</em>, photographed at the lodge on 15 March 2020 (&copy; Alan Martin)
Aellopos ceculus, photographed at the lodge on 15 March 2020 (© Alan Martin)

There have been 110 species of hawkmoth recorded in the Serra dos Orgaos and only a further four in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

A recent visit to REGUA by Alan Martin in March 2020 added the 80th hawkmoth species for REGUA, Aellopos ceculus, a day flying moth somewhat similar to the European Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. It was found laying eggs only a few hundred metres from the lodge.

A further 14 species have been found and photographed close to REGUA, but at higher altitudes than are easily reached within the reserve. Some expeditions to add some of these to the list along with some of the high altitude bird species has to be a priority for future visits.

Ecdysis

Shed skin of Yellow Rat Snake <em>Spilotes pullatus</em>, REGUA, 5 April 2020. Note the yellow pigmentation in the skin. (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
Shed skin of Yellow Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus, REGUA, 5 April 2020. Note the yellow pigmentation in the skin. (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
Shed skin of Yellow Rat Snake <em>Spilotes pullatus</em>, REGUA, 5 April 2020 (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
Shed skin of Yellow Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus, REGUA, 5 April 2020 (© Rodrigo Fonseca)

The Yellow Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus, a semi-arboreal species, which feeds on small rodents, amphibians, lizards and even other snakes, is easily found in forests, in open areas such as pastures and trails and can even be seen around human constructions in search of food. Despite being a large snake, reaching up to 3 metres, it’s very agile and not venomous, with yellow and black colors.

Recently, an old skin left after shedding (the process being called ecdysis) was found at the research accomodation, Casa Pesquisa, which in adult individuals occurs on average once a year. This process occurs when the outer layer of the skin, formed by keratin, is replaced by a new one. This exchange takes place when snakes, in general, grow or when the outermost layer is damaged. Ecdysis lasts from 5 to 7 days and during this period the snake becomes more vulnerable to predators as vision is reduced due to fluid accumulation between new and old skin.

New REGUA book off to print: Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos

Cover of A Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, due to be publoshed soon.
Cover to REGUA’s forth book A Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos

Back in 2015 Alan Martin and Jorge Bizarro started work on a guide to butterflies to accompany the three REGUA books already published that are specific to the REGUA area (hawkmoths, dragonflies and birds). What started as a three year project has taken five years, partly because the number of species recorded in the area is more than had been anticipated but also because it proved very difficult to source photos of some of the rarer species.

The book is now about to be printed and it covers 803 species (excluding grass skippers) with descriptions, comparisons to similar species, global distribution and notes on the ecology, behaviour and host plants. All but three of the species are illustrated with over 1,300 photos of live specimens or where not available, photos of pinned specimens. There are also introductory texts for each family, subfamily and tribe.

The book will be distributed by NHBS, but in the UK is best ordered from Alan Martin at a reduced price of £30 plus £5 postage (please see our Publications page for details). All the profits from the sale of the book will go to REGUA.

Pans

A pair of Blacksmith Tree Frogs <em>Boana faber</em> in a "pan" (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
A pair of Blacksmith Tree Frogs Boana faber in a “pan” (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
Blacksmith Tree Frog <em>Boana faber</em> in a "pan" (© Rodrigo Fonseca)
Blacksmith Tree Frog Boana faber in a “pan” (© Rodrigo Fonseca)

One of the researchers who is carrying on his fieldwork at REGUA, Rodrigo Fonseca, has been studying the perception and colonization of reproductive habitats (puddles, flooded fields, streams, etc.) by anuran amphibians and the elements of the landscape (trees and shrubs) favouring this dynamic.

His study includes night field work, where he samples temporary and stablished puddles also capturing and identifying amphibian individuals. He is a Master’s student from the Post Graduate Programme in Ecology at the Federal University in Rio (UFRJ).

During his activities, he quite often comes across with the Blacksmith Tree Frog Boana faber, a species known to form small nests called “pans” where males vocalize to attract females, which in return will evaluate the nest condition and decide whether to use it or not. If the female chooses it, the male performs the bridal hug, also called amplexus, where together they release gametes into the water forming around 3,000 eggs inside the nest.

First tapir born in the wild at REGUA

Still taken from camera trap footage of the first wild born Lowland Tapir in Rio de Janeiro state for 100 years (&copy; Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)
Still taken from camera trap footage of the first wild born Lowland Tapir in Rio de Janeiro state for 100 years (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

We bring you a follow up of the news of the birth of Rio de Janeiro’s first wild Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris birth for over a century, at REGUA.

The story kicks off in 2016 when Professor Fernando Fernandez of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) arrived at REGUA with a plan of releasing 10 pairs of Lowland (or Brazilian) Tapirs at REGUA over 3-4 years, a species that has been extinct for over 100 years in Rio de Janeiro state, (a physical territory equivalent to the country of Costa Rica). The forests that Roger Wilson of the World Land Trust had exhorted us to plant in 2005, were at a stage that they represented the perfect gateway to the forested mountains of the Três Picos State Park, the third largest remaining fragment of Atlantic Forest in the world. After much time convincing the Park authorities that this was a great idea to improve forest quality through seed dispersal, the go ahead was granted.

REGUA built two huge fenced pens in the forest by the wetlands to receive three Lowland Tapirs raised in a captive breeding centre in Minas Gerais. Accompanying Eva was her adolescent calf, Flokinho, and partner Adão, names chosen by the local community in late 2017. Sadly Adão succumbed to pneumonia, but soon afterwards the Projeto Refauna team brought another three, Jupiter, Valente and Flora, from another breeding centre in Paraná. Jupiter is a fitting name, being the God of sky and thunder in Roman mythology, as Jupiter spoon chased off Flora’s calf Flokinho, who is now living in the lower part of the Guapiaçu valley. Time passed as the three weaned off their supplementary diet of fruit and lo and behold 13 months later we have our very first tapir calf!

The Projeto Refauna team managed the first glimpses through a camera trap. Then REGUA bird guide, Adilei Carvalho da Cunha, installed two camera traps, but found the card in one was faulty and the other trap captured no video of any tapir (though a surprising amount of recordings of agouti paca, common marmoset, common opossums and the smaller gray four eyed opossum). Adilei replaced the dud card and later successfully returned with these two videos. Both show a very healthy individual (still without a name) which we expect to be at least three months of age. Mum is living by some fields and plantations, not in deep forest, and has been seen walking a trail that goes to the river many times of the day.

This is not only the very first Lowland Tapir born at the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve, but also the first born out of captivity in Rio de Janeiro state for over a hundred years. We have to thank Projeto Refauna, the tapir captive breeders and of course the Três Picos State Park authorities, who will certainly be seeing the tapirs roaming before long in this immense green area.

Smooth horned frog

One of the amphibians that we love to show guests that visit REGUA are the smooth horned frogs, Proceratophrys boiei  that are often found within leaf litter along the forest trails.   They sit waiting for passing prey, or hunt for spiders, beetles and other insects, with their wide mouth they can take relatively large prey and have been known to eat small frogs.

Smooth horned frog (©) REGUA

They remain stationary and move very slowly if found and picked up.  This is an Atlantic rainforest endemic species.    Listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN  in view of its wide distribution along the range of the biomes, only 7% remains of the forest which provides its home.   Current research in our forests indicates that its population is unlikely to be declining, and with the restoration we are carrying out, we hope this situation continues as we increase the suitable habitat.

The smooth horned frog spawns in temporary slow-flowing water within the forest or on the forest edge.   This species is featured on the World Land Trust site and after all these years I would say it is one of my favourite frogs of our 72 species list.