Aguas Compridas is an area of the reserve that we reforested with World Land Trust funding back in 2012. Just last week our bird guide Adilei, heard the call of Bertoni’s Antbird Drymophila rubricollis in this area. Bertoni’s Antbird is an Atlantic Forest Endemic and normally associated with higher altitudes, between 900 and 2000 metres above sea level. As this piece of land is at around 95 metres above sea level, Adilei was surprised to hear the species there.
At around 08:00, Adilei left his house as usual with his trusty binoculars. He heard the call and eventually found the bird in this small piece of secondary forest scrub. Only the single male bird was seen and it was singing its heart out, sadly without a reply. Was it simply lost, or maybe calling to a female? Maybe it had been forced low down as it is unusually cold at the moment, even for this, our winter season.
It will be interesting to see if it is heard again. Unfortunately Adilei did not have his camera with him on this occasion, so here’s a photograph of a different individual I took recently, to highlight how stunning this bird is.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
REGUA recently hosted Pieter van Midwoud, project director at Ecosia and their partner Joaquim Freitas of the “Atlantic Rainforest Pact”. They visited as they have funded REGUA’s restoration programme and wanted to see the developments.
Ecosia is a global search engine platform now centred in Switzerland and part of its profits are directed to tropical tree planting around the Globe.
Ecosia offers a small top-up grant to existing projects and in this way reached to part-funding 60 million trees by June 2019, today one of the greatest contributors to restoration efforts in the world.
Last November, Joaquim brought Pieter to see REGUA’s contribution over the last three years and was totally bowled over by the results. We hope that Ecosia can continue to help us for their grant is very important to fuel our efforts.
Belated news of two adult Purple Martins Progne subis seen and photographed with Grey-breasted Martins Progne chalybea by our bird guide Adilei at REGUA on 9 October 2019. Purple Martin breeds in North America and winters across much of South America east of the Andes. Rio state is towards the southern limit of their range. Following a White-throated Seedeater at the wetland on 12 October 2019, also found by Adilei, this long overdue addition to the REGUA bird list brings the total number of bird species recorded here to an incredible 485! This total excludes species seen on excursions. Which bird species next for REGUA?
Paul Hopkins and Magnus Billqvist stayed at the REGUA lodge from Jan 23 until Feb 13. During almost the first half of their trip they were joined by Agnes Ludwig and Tom Kompier. The weather was somewhat wet and cold, but nevertheless the tour turned up 152 species out of the 208 that have now been recorded from the Guapiacu catchment. The discovery of a new damsel for the REGUA list, Aceratobasis macilenta, was very exciting, but there were several other remarkable records or developments.
The swamp at the bottom of the hill on which the lodge is situated, near the office buildings, was wet throughout the stay. It is still the only confirmed site for Brown-striped Spreadwing Lestes tricolor in the area, but holds easily 25 species within its 30×15 m area. Amongst these are sought after species like the Flame-tip Telagrion longum and Brazilian Blue-eye Anatya januaria, both often found emerging there, but it now also holds a good population of Caribbean Duskhawker Triacanthagyna caribbea and the rarely encountered Silver-clouded Dragonlet Erythrodiplax laurentia. This little area is constantly evolving and never ceases to amaze.
The wetland itself is also evolving, with some of the pioneer species that were very common in previous years losing ground to species that likely require less disturbed habitat. This means that the Erythemis species, although still present, are much scarcer. Several years back Pin-tailed Pondhawk E. plebeja would pick off the flies accompanying Ode lovers at virtually every step, but now you have to search for it. Rainpool Spreadwing Lestes forficula, previously abundant and one of the commonest species, was almost completely gone. On the other hand, Guiana Spiderlegs Planiplax phoenicura is now really common and has been joined by the rarer Scarlet Spiderlegs Planiplax arachne, and previously common Bow-tailed Dasher Micrathyria catenata has been largely replaced by Square-spotted Dasher M. ocellata.
At the nearby forest fragment of Onofre Cunha, the recently described Regua Pincertip Forcepsioneura regua was still regular, and exciting as always.
The Green Trail up to the Waterfall was excellent as usual. It turned out to be a particularly good year for the Long-tailed Bromeliad Guard Leptagrion perlongum with dozens seen at the beginning of the trail. Further up a copula of Cinnamon Flatwing Heteragrion sp. was a first, and even more exciting was that is was seen to subsequently oviposit in a shallow forest stream, verifying its suspected habitat.
The fishponds at Vecchi remain excellent, although the Large Pond seems to suffer from disturbance. This possibly explains the apparent complete absence of Slender Redskimmer Rhodopygia hollandi, which used to be a common species here. During our visits we observed a very late Green Forceptail Phyllocycla pallida, which previously had not been recorded after early December. A female Silver-clouded Dragonlet Erythrodiplax laurentia here was another surprise. The small ponds again turned up such excellent species as the enigmatic Mantled Skimmer Edonis helena.
One of the most exciting observations was done at the Tres Picos area, where several Chagas’s Emeralds Neocordulia carlochagasi was observed patrolling. This area appears to be a good location for this rare species, with observations in several years now. Another specialty of this area is White-fronted Sylph Macrothemis capitata, which has now been found consistently for several years at the start of the trail up.
Although not achieving the maximum score of the 2018 tour (166), partly because fewer locations were visited and partly because of weather and luck, the result proved once more that any visitor in the right season can expect to see more species of dragonfly here than recorded from the whole of Europe, and with much more ease.
Almost exactly twenty years ago, renowned UK birders Guy Kirwan, Rodd McCann, Rob Williams and Canadian bird artist David Beadle visited REGUA, returning a year later in the company of the late Argentine birder Juan Mazar Barnett. Staying at the modest REGUA research accomodation, they had come to find the Rio de Janeiro AntwrenMyrmutherula fluminense, following the sighting by Stephen Knapp which had electrified the birding world and put REGUA on the international map. The birders all saw the bird in a secondary forest at 100m elevation and I even asked David if he could draw us a picture of this extraordinary bird.
The Rio de Janeiro Antwren is a monotypic species that lies in Professor Luis Gonzaga’s collection at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). During Professor Gonzaga’s doctorate field work in 1982 he found and collected a common antwren in one of his mist nets in the lowland forest near Magé, some 30 miles away from REGUA as the crow flies. Upon further study he realized that it was not the White-flanked Antwren Myrmutherula axilaris and named it Myrmutherula fluminense.
Over the years, birders came to REGUA to try to see not only this bird, but also other species of Atlantic Forest birds, and the REGUA organization grew to become the respected conservation project it is today. Birders and naturalists from around the globe visit REGUA and stay at our lodge. The results of our habitat protection, partly funded by visitation to REGUA, have been inspirational, but the Rio de Janeiro Antwren was never seen again, suggesting that it may well have been the White-flanked Antwren or even a possible hybrid.
Brazilian ornithologist Fabio Olmos visited and mist-netted in exactly the same area six years later and caught an immature White-flanked Antwren offering doubts as to the real identity of that mysterious bird that David and friends saw.
Professor Gonzaga kept the bird for over 15 years until it was given the ultimate test, the DNA test, and what did he find? The results showed that the bird was completely different from the Myrmutherula genus. Now he has a single bird of a new unnamed genus, probably the rarest bird in Brazil!
On the search now are Brazilian ornithologists Luciano Lima and Rafael Bessa, Rafael famous for rediscovering the Blue-eyed Ground-DoveColumbina cyanopis, missing for over 75 years. They are involved in a field project sponsored by American Birding Conservancy to search the lowland forests for the mysterious bird. Could others lurk out there in similar secondary forest? Luciano and Rafael have completed their fieldwork and have some ideas, but we are left with doubts. However, it was chance to tell them the story of the bird that put REGUA on the map, that brought generous donors to help establish this lowland reserve and all its programmes in conservation of the Atlantic Forest. There are still many small patches of forest out there so perhaps we have not heard the last of this enigmatic bird!
Photographic registers are always great and can often give one a shock when seeing how fast forests, when properly cultivated, can spring back into life. An area of grassland acquired from the Lemgruber family represented an important forest corridor to areas both to sides. The World Land Trust rushed to our support and helped fund this tree planting which has resulted in this extraordinary transformation. This forest is only 24 months growth!!
Over 150 species were planted in the green grasslands in March 2018 and carefully tended. The results are dramatic!
We are very grateful to the REGUA field team who have put the effort and the WLT team who funded us. The results are worth every effort and today we have birds and mammals associated with secondary forest cover using this young forest. Thank you all for your support in providing area for these trees, it’s another 7 hectares that will turn into RPPN shortly and be protected for ever. This is the very essence of REGUA’s work here in the Atlantic rainforest, a global hotspot, in its aim of
The delegates were conservationists engaged in projects in their home country and were selected to share in this professional course where the main objective lies in meeting other like-minded leaders and share in a common theme. This results in inspiration, fortitude, persistence and networking with the programme’s central theme being the conservation of the environment, be it species or habitat.
Stuart Paterson and Christina Imrich organized the event flawlessly and the 19 participants from varied countries across the world enjoyed a most productive time at REGUA. Aside from the classroom and field work over the week at REGUA, the group participated in field trips that included the Mangroves close by and of course the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The young leaders embody the standards that the CLP leaders wish and return to their host countries invigorated and keen on their own personal projects.
This is brilliant for us at REGUA for we get a chance to show what we do and likewise get a personal boost from meeting these talented individuals.
After a many years of receiving researchers and volunteers from around the world, REGUA’s reputation continues to grow.
Many have visited over the years to help and support REGUA by contributing with their skills, this long-standing key activity has attracted the American Earthwatch Institute.
With a proposal to examine in detail ecosystem services and the restoration of the Atlantic rainforest, Dr Manuel Muanis from Rio Federal University has developed a programme to attract conservation and pro-active Earthwatch volunteers.
Dr Manuel’s plan included locating camera traps to photograph mammal movement in different stages of REGUA’s planted forest and compare this with the natural regenerating forest. The aim is to compare the populations of these animals in both forest types, to understand whether the net benefits in ecosystem services and functions are comparable.
“Mammals act as a regulator for a variety of interactions between a large diversity of species, so the health of mammal populations can be used as an indicator of overall ecosystem health. Understanding to what extent vegetation recovery also restores mammal diversity will provide data about the long-term health and sustainability of these reforested areas.”
“This study will directly contribute to the management plan of REGUA. As we work towards stewarding and restoring the world’s forests, information about how to best manage that process and restore ecosystem functions is critical.”
The team is really committed and enthusiastic, and although January is the hottest time of the year for us, everyone worked extremely hard.
The results are meaningful and Earthwatch will send volunteers throughout the year to provide data that can provide us with a better understanding of forest restoration.
Thank you Earthwatch team for coming and staying at REGUA and helping us.
This is brilliant work and we look forward to learning more as your research develops!
The Guapiaçu Grande Vida (GGV II) Petrobras funded forest restoration and environmental education project has now come to the end, after two more productive years at REGUA. Here is a summary of the main achievements:
Forest restoration: In the GGV II area, 60 hectares of degraded areas were replanted between 2017-2019, with 120,000 native trees of 181 different Atlantic Forest species. Together with the 100 hectares planted with 180,000 trees by the GGV I project between 2013-2015, a total of 160 hectares have now been reforested with 300,000 saplings grown in our nursery from seeds collected on the reserve. Replanting these areas has created forest corridors between the remaining forest fragments, that are vital if biodiversity is to thrive and recover.
As part of the restoration scheme, growth and biomass counts in the previously planted GGV I area and the GGV II area were established. The GGV I area was monitored, concentrating efforts on weeding, leafcutter ant control, tree replanting and fertilizer soil enrichment. Monitoring across the whole 160 hectares planted provided the base on which to evaluate the effectiveness of the restoration and allowed for carbon sequestration analysis of the GGV I area after four years since it was planted. REGUA’s rangers, as well as both agriculturalists and land owners (totalling 32 participants), were trained to implement forest restoration methodology.
Environmental education: As part of the environmental education strategy, a water quality monitoring protocol was implemented in the Guapi-Macacu watershed. 52 Cachoeiras de Macacu secondary school students were selected and trained to collect 300 water samples at four different sites along the Guapiaçu, Macacu and Boa Vista rivers (upstream and downstream of villages and towns). In addition, a very instructive publication, Methodology and Water Quality Monitoring Results, was produced.
School visitation programme: This programme aimed at strengthening visitation to the new Grande Vida educational trail. The first 400 metres of the trail have been adapted to host the physically handicapped visitors.
The GGV school visitation programme funded children’s transport to REGUA and the Sharing Nature environmental education approach was implemented for students (primary and secondary school levels) to experience proximity to nature. Over 4000 students visited REGUA between 2017-2019. The GGV team held two teacher training courses, which allowed teachers to make the best educational use of the Grande Vida trail. A trail guiding course was also organized for 22 participants which enabled them to acquire knowledge on Cachoeiras de Macacu’s sustainable use of its natural beauties.
At the end of December 2019 the Petrobras Socio-Environmental Program grant was finally signed, and in January 2020, the GGV project, now renamed the Guapiaçu Project, started its activities. We have another two very busy years ahead of us (2020-2022), continuing the forest restoration within the upper Guapiaçu watershed, and developing the environmental education activities within Cachoeiras de Macacu and the neighbouring Itaborai municipalities.
The benefit of Ultra Violet (UV) exposure for animals is widely recognised but little studied. It is understood to have a wide range of health benefits for skin, hair, bone development and even animal fertility. Most available data on UV exposure is based on reptiles studied in Australia. Obviously, animals in their natural surroundings have a higher UV exposure than can be provided in temperate zoo collections, so how do we look at the issue?
With that question in mind, Steve Goodwin and Priscilla Mills from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) London Zoo, came to REGUA and spent two weeks measuring the UVI (ultraviolet Index) on the Common Marmoset (Callithrix Jacchus) in the wild.
They measured daytime temperatures, light levels and humidity, to build a profile of what these animals may be exposed to throughout the day.
Through their careful and constant fieldwork, Steve and Priscilla observe for how long and what level of UV these marmosets are exposed to, and hopefully this will help build a better picture of what these animals need to remain healthy.
Steve and Priscilla can then extrapolate the information and compare it to the levels offered in captivity and gain an insight into their behaviour back at the Zoo. If this data proves to be successful, than they wish to use it for other mammal species in captivity.