Hello! I’m Hugo Anselmo, a 22 year old young man, raised in the dry and arid landscapes of Alentejo, in Portugal. Although one of my biggest interests is art in general, my great passion since I was little kid is biology! For this reason, I’m a biology graduate from the University of Aveiro and, currently, I’m in my second and final year of the master’s degree in Ecology and Environment at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto.
I’m especially fascinated by the area of animal behavior and by mammals. And that’s how I arrived at REGUA with the aim of verifying whether there are differences in the reproductive behaviors of the pumas (Puma concolor) between the dry and the wet seasons, with the help of my Portuguese advisor Nuno Monteiro and Brazilian co-adviser Andre Lanna, who has been researching at REGUA for a long time. To do this, I’ll monitor the marks left by cougars on REGUA trails and record their behaviours with camera traps.
These conspicuous brick-red butterflies with shiny black stripes and a variable number of white dots belong in the subfamily Danainae of the Brush Footed butterflies (Nymphalidae). Most of the genera in this group fly in tropical Africa and Indo-Australasian regions, being mainly blackish, creamy and greenish-white. However, the genus Danaus features mostly large bright brick-red species in the Americas with a couple of exceptions in the Old World. They are long lived migratory butterflies with the Monarch being worldwide famous for its yearly massive migrations between Canada and central Mexico.
These butterflies are a popular model among researchers who study biochemical inset-plant relationships due to the easiness in rearing them under laboratory conditions in large numbers. Danaus species retain some of the toxic secondary chemical compounds of their food-plants which protect them from predators during their adult life span. Daniela has been researching these relations for decades going back to UNICAMP and the group that specializes in these insect-plant interactions there. Ever since she moved on to the UFRJ in Rio de Janeiro she continued her research in REGUA and our region where both Danaus erippus and D. gilippus (slightly smaller and with more white dots than previous) are common dwellers. Their larvae feed locally on Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), a perennial weedy plant occurring in sunny areas along roads, trails and open field plantations. Recently, a new foreign species of Asclepias arrived in some coastal areas in Brazil raising some questions and she is now testing how well Danaus erippus larvae perform on it in terms of growth rate and survival.
The Screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris) belonging to the family Icteridae, is among the avian brood parasites the most specialized species.
Daniel Mello, birdwatching guide and partner of our institution, made the first record of this species at REGUA, in an open area close to the headquarters. A juvenile (rufous plumage) was spotted flying with a flock of Chopi blackbirds (Gnorimopsar chopi). Insects, seeds and on occasions fruit, are part of its diet.
It occurs in most of eastern Brazil, from Rio Grande do Sul to Piaui State.
Monitoring is an essential part of any reintroduction programme. The pictures from the camera traps showed that the tapir Macacu, reintroduced last October, was very injured, as the result of clashes with other tapirs. “Macacu” was placed back in an acclimatization enclosure for treatment, where it spent a month to heal wounds and gain weight under the supervision of the veterinarian Jeferson Pires, who is also a professor at Estácio de Sá University in Rio de Janeiro, and the care of Sidnei. Macacu recovered well and is now again free in REGUA’s forests still being monitored. This is the moment when Macacu is leaving the acclimatization enclosure!
The reintroduction of tapirs in the state of Rio de Janeiro is an initiative of Refauna wild animal’s reintroduction programme in partnership with the Reserve and Petrobras funded project Guapiaçu III.
Looking back at 2021! It was a challenging year for everyone, however we feel proud and grateful for all the opportunities and experiences we lived. May we begin this coming year of 2022 smiling and with a positive attitude! We thank all those who support and wish to see REGUA move forward!
We found this beautiful Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) trying to reach a branch on the roadside. We could not resist helping her! It is interesting to note the amount of insects on her fur.
Sloths can be host to a wide variety of arthropods and two important macroparasite groups can be outlined, the hematophagous and the coprophagus. Ticks and biting flies belong to the hematophagous group and the moths, beetles and mites to coprophagus group, which interact with sloth through commensalism (one organism attaches itself to another (the host) solely for the purpose of travel). Sadly, many sloths are run over by cars and lorries while crossing the roads seeking for forest fragments. Another problem concerns sloths touching high voltage electrical lines, as they often use these wires to move around. Unfortunately, it can be fatal!
This week we are having the first field course at REGUA, respecting social distancing measures, attended by professors, Master’s and PhD students and two Rio de Janeiro Federal University Entomology Department technicians.
Students attending this course are part of the postgraduate Zoology programme in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro / UFRJ. Activities include techniques for insect collection (active and passive collection), preparation and preservation of the material in the laboratory.
All the material collected will be part of the National Museum’s entomological collection, which is under reconstruction after the terrible fire of 2018.
It was nice to bump into the researchers on the Yellow, Brown and Purple trails, while they were setting up traps and checking which insects were attracted by it. Covid-19 forced us to adopt social distancing measures, so it’s nice to have students coming to REGUA to undertake their field work once again. We are also happy to be contributing to the new entomological collection which was lost in 2018.
Bees play a fundamental role on the planet contributing to plant reproduction and the maintenance of life. Their work is present in our daily lives, in our food and even in the use of cosmetics. Bees also contribute enormously to the conservation of forests. Currently these insects are suffering great losses either by extensive use of pesticides, climate change or habitat loss.
Considering this situation, there is a real need to preserve more flowering plants that attract bees worldwide.
Bees can use floral resources, such as pollen, nectar, oils and resins to feed themselves, build nests and nourish their larvae. They can also collect floral scents that help in their reproduction.
With this in mind, the National Museum – UFRJ will be carrying out a research at REGUA to identify which herbaceous plants are attractive to bees and which resources are being offered by these plants. The results of this study will further our understanding of forests´ and bees´ conservation at REGUA.
We are still thrilled with the arrival of a new family of tapirs that came from Bahía – Northeast of Brazil – at REGUA. After a month of getting used to their new home at the release pen at the REGUA wetlands, they finally joined other 6 reintroduced tapirs and 2 wild ones born at REGUA. The father tapir Macacu and it’s calf were taken on the truck to their new residence at the begining of the Green Trail. Cachoeiras, the mother tapir remained at REGUA’s wetlands. The calf it’s now called Amora, name chosen by school children from our local communities.
Sidnei, who has been taking care of the tapirs since the beggining of the reintroduction programme, still needs to take food (fruits and vegetables) for all members of the family, and also keep an eye on the older ones making sure they are healthy.
We wish the family does well in their new environment! Reintroduced tapirs arrive at REGUA through the support of Petrobras funded Project Guapiaçu and Project Refauna.
Mimicry is a very widespread phenomenon in Nature, where some species imitate the morphological and chromatic patterns of others, benefiting from some kind of protection due to this similarity to the model. The later usually has some physical or biochemical characteristic that makes it ‘hated’ by predators. In the case of butterflies, it is usually the presence of toxic (most often alkaloids) and/or unpalatable substances in the body of the models.
In the Americas there is an endemic tribe of the Danainae subfamily of Nymphalidae: the Ithomiini butterflies comprising about 350 species – many of them popularly called ‘glasswings’ or ‘clearwings’ due to the transparency of much of the surface of their wings – where most participate in mimetic rings between themselves and with other lepidopterans, including the subfamily Heliconiinae and some diurnal moths.
In most cases. the chemical compounds involved in toxic or “bad tasting” (unpalatable) butterflies are incorporated during the larva stage from feeding on their food plants. In the case of glasswings the plants used by the larvae are partly Apocynaceae (a source shared with the Danaiini tribe) but the majority feed on Solanaceae, a botanical family which includes popular vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and ‘jiló’. However, many species sequester these alkaloid compounds already in adulthood; especially the males which suck alkaloids from the flowers and roots of shrubs, lianas or weeds of the Asteraceae family or decaying dry leaves of Boraginaceae.
During the tour of one of the butterfly monitoring transects (a section of the Yellow Trail) recently cleared for maintenance, I was able to observe over the course of a week how groups of various species of glasswings congregated on the roots of an Eupatorium shrub (Asteraceae) – especially in the early morning and afternoon – as exemplified by the photo below. The species observed sequestering alkaloids from these exposed roots were the following: Episcada striposis, Episcada sylvo, Hypothiris ninonia daeta, Hypothiris euclea lapria, Ithomia agnosia zikani, Ithomia drymo and Pseudocada erruca.
REGUA’s second on-line scientific seminar took place from July 21st to July 23rd. The incredible 440 plus e-participants had an opportunity to learn of the varying research taking place at REGUA on diverse subjects such as: atlantic flora, restoration programmes, conservation strategies, healthy environments and fauna monitoring. REGUA sees research as a core activity and has supported on-site research for over 15 years with close to a hundred publications from different University departments.
It was challenging to organize such an event (online), reminding us that it is important to keep up with technology learning how to handle new tools. Seminars were broadcast live on Guapiaçu Project’s YouTube channel, meanwhile there was plenty chat interaction between researchers, professors, lecturers and REGUA’s team members. Other 35 videos from different research undertaken at REGUA were also made available on YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/c/ProjetoGuapia%C3%A7u/playlists).
We had the chance to learn and share many interesting studies!
Professor Timothy Moulton and his team from UERJ (Rio de Janeiro State university) discusses the water quality of the REGUA wetlands.
Their research has been carrying on since 2005 and they have noticed that the wetlands have been presenting more turbid water lately. This process is associated with the presence of Euglena sanguinia algae, which can produce a harmful toxin to fish. This algae also impacts the development of a submerged macrophyte – Egeria densa – which plays an important role in the balance of aquatic systems, producing oxygen and being food for many species of fish, birds and mammals, besides sheltering planktonic microorganisms. The idea is to keep track of this dynamic and monitor water quality thinking about solutions that can help keep a healthy aquatic system.
Another study shows us the importance of the research constancy on bat’s diversity at REGUA over the past 10 years. There are 78 species of bats in the atlantic forest and 43 species occurring at REGUA.
Insectivorous bats are particularly difficult to capture, due to their very accurate echolocation making them very much aware of mist nets. For this reason, it is essential to encourage inventory efforts to continue at REGUA.
Biocenas initiative, part of Rio de Janeiro state university scientific environmental photography centre, has taking place at REGUA since 2010. The initiative’s purpose is to encourage people to get closer to nature through photography. Biocenas’ photographic collection consists of about 4,500 images and this material has been used for education and research purposes, as well as for understanding local biodiversity at REGUA. Biocenas has recently published the Field Guide ‘Fauna Biodiversity at REGUA’.
The online seminar’s results and feedback shows how important it is for REGUA to keep on encouraging research onsite.
We would like to share this video showing the second wild tapir born at REGUA! We are delighted with the news and we think that the young must be 6 months old.
In 2020 tapirs Eva and Valente had Curumim, the first wild tapir born in the State of Rio de Janeiro after 100 years where this species was considered extinct. Now, tapirs Flora and Jupiter had their offspring and we are thrilled to contribute with tapir population increase at REGUA.
Both adult tapirs arrived in 2018, coming from Klabin Ecological Park in the State of Paraná and bonded since then. There are several camera traps around the forest and for that reason we can keep an eye on the monitoring programme led by REFAUNA project. Guapiaçu Petrobras funded project is also one of the project’s partners as they help buy radio collars to keep track of the tapirs and also help finance the tapir’s transportation to the REGUA. We hope you also enjoy this great news!
Native from Brazil, the Tapiti rabbit (Sylvilagatus brasilienses) is found throughout all the Brazilian biomes, with the exception of some parts of the Amazon. This friendly mammal is nocturnal, wary and solitary and it is most of the time hiding from its predators, such as pumas, ocelots and some snakes.
Its diet consists of fruit, shoots and plant stalks. These rabbits make their nest with leaves or dry grass, lining the inside with their own fur to raise their young, usually giving birth to one to six off springs.
Some people think rabbits are rodents. Actually they have similar behaviour such as nocturnal habits and reproduction, however what most differs rabbits from rodents is their teeth: they have four incisor teeth (two upper and two lower), while rodents have only two.
Besides the fact that rabbits have beautiful long ears!
This video was made available by Marcelo Rheingantz and Projeto Refauna due to the tapir monitoring programme.
Most moths feed on flower nectar and thus behave as pollinators. Another part lives for a few hours or days and accumulates fat in the larval stage, so adults barely eat, drinking water instead.
However, several groups of the Erebidae family (ex-Noctuidae latu sensu + Arctiidae) are frugivores, feeding on decomposing ripe fruits. They include the well-known and popular underwings (genus Catocala) from the northern temperate region, which can be attracted by brushing fruit puree over bark and tree trunks.
Some genera of the subfamily Calpinae have specialized in piercing the intact peal of fruit with the proboscis, the mouthpiece typical of 99% of adult Lepidoptera, which in this case has a pointed and barbed tip, allowing the moth to pierce the rind of the fruit to sip its juice and some of them are considered citrus orchard pests.
In our region occurs the colorful genus Eudocima of Pantropical distribution (with species in all tropical regions) exemplified by the individual pictured here on a fallen fruit.
Finally – as a curiosity; – Nature went a little further on with some improvements over the proboscis modifications involved in piercing intact fruits allowing for the appearance of some blood feeding (hamatophagous) species in Southeast Asia capable of piercing mammal skin to feed on their blood, especially that of large animals including local cattle. These are the vampire moths of the genus Calyptra.
The typical feeding habit in this Asian genus is to drink on the lacrimal secretions of these animals, but less than half a dozen species specialized in hematophagy just like mosquitoes.
The Black-capped Screech-Owl (Megascops atricapilla) was heard by Adilei’s house and he gave it a chance trying to photograph it. He had been hearing its call for some weeks and he finally managed to reach it! All owls occurring in Brazil, except for the barn owl (Tyto furcata), belong to the Strigidae family. The Black-capped Screech-Owl can be found in Southeast Brazil, northern Argentina and eastern Paraguay and is under Least Concern (LC) category by IUCN Conservation status. This species is of crepuscular habits hunting for insects, rodents, small mammals and birds and it often nests in natural tree cavities or in abandoned nest holes. It’s easy to find the Black-capped Screech-Owl on mature, humid and dense forests. Brazilians have a fascination for owls and it’s quite an event to make a record of it!
During the month of May, REGUA’s rangers will be taking part in a training course led by Eduardo Rubião, Phoenix Nature Consulting founder. Rain Forest Trust has kindly donated the funding for this course to take place as a means to encourage REGUA’ s conservation commitment in the Guapiaçu watershed.
Park rangers duties and their relevance to society as a whole, an introduction to the different Brazilian park categories, First Aid principles, walks in the wetlands and in REGUA’s trails including their maintenance and signage are the main training course’s topics. REGUA’s rangers play a vital role in providing a variety of services which guarantee the protection and conservation of REGUA’s forests.
REGUA took part in the Urban Nature Challenge 2021: Guanabara Bay, RJ, Brazil, a Bioblitz that began on April 29th till May, the 3rd – at 11:59pm.
We had Eric Fisher’s visit who played an important role in this event.
The Bioblitz aimed at registering as many organisms (animals, plants, fungi) as possible! REGUA was also part of a worldwide DISPUTE among more than 400 cities and regions in which we will be able to show the great biological diversity in aquatic Atlantic Forest and Restinga ecosystems and also in urban areas of our Municipality.
The event has 2,140 observations, 88 participants and 880 identified species so far, and more to be added.
We were unable to make this event open to the public due to Covid-19 pandemic however we think it is very important to engage in citizen science practices going outdoors appreciating nature’s fabulous diversity. We already did some great observations and we are excited with the prospect of contributing to the global citizen science platform Inaturalist!
Mscstudentfrom Rio de Janeiro StateUniversity, João Souza, isdevelopinghisfieldworkat REGUA for hisresearchprojectaimingtoestablishhowfragmentedareas in theAtlanticForest couldaffect secondary productionoftadpoles.
João alsowishesto demonstratethroughhisresearchthe important role of isolatedmothertrees in helping tomaintainnatural ecosystem processes. As partofthese ecosystem processes heisspecificallylookingat net secondaryyeld, however it is importantto rememberthepreviousstep – rawprimaryyeld. Terrestrialecosystemsrelyonthesun’senergy tosupportthegrowthandmetabolism of theirresidentorganisms. Plants are known for beingbiomassfactories poweredby sunlight, supplyingorganismshigherupthe food chainwithenergyandthestructural “buildingblocksoflife”. Autotrophs are terrestrial prime yeldproducers: organismsthatmanufacture, throughphotosynthesis, new organicmolecules (carbohydratesandlipids) fromrawinorganicmaterials (CO2, water, mineral nutrients).
The energyfromthesunisstoredonthenewlycreatedchemicalbonds, beingthensourceofenergytoheterotrophorganisms. Heterotrophs are secondaryyeldproducers, ratherconsumingthanproducingorganicmolecules.
Net secondaryyeld (NSY) historicallyrepresentstheformationof living biomass of a heterotrophicpopulationorgroupofpopulations over some periodof time. It’sknownthatnotall food eatenby an individual isconvertedinto new animal biomass (NSY), only a fraction ofthe material ingestedisassimilatedfromthedigestivetract; theremainder passes out as feces. Ofthe material assimilated, only a fractioncontributestogrowthofanindividual’smassortoreproduction — bothofwhichultimatelyrepresent net yeld. Most oftherestisconsumedbynormalmethabolims (like respiration).
João’sresearchmaysupplyimportantdata highlightingtheimportanceofconservingvegetationfragments – evenstandingtrees – to help maintainessential natural ecosystem processes like NSY. He alsowishestounderstandhowthe groupofanurans, oneofthelargestvertebrate taxa withmanythreatenedspecies,isaffectedbythelossofvegetation.
Every evening, for the last six months, REGUA´s Visitor Centre wasvisitedby a mysterious nocturnal animal. It was common to see pellets and white stains on cars and all over the floor first thing in the morning. Wefinallyfound outthat the elusive creature was a Barn-owl (Tyto furcata)! Itisnestingatthe top of an oldtree byREGUA’s common area and feeding on small vertebrates.
Widelydistributed, thisspeciesoccurs in alltheAmericas, except for thedenselyforestedregionsoftheAmazon. Barn-owls inhabit open andsemi-openareasandthey are more activeatduskand at night. They arecommonlyseenflyingloworon top offencesalong theroad. Duringday time, they sleepornest in churchtowers, atticsofhousesandtree hollows. Anunmistakablefeatureofthespeciesistheirheart-shaped face. Males andfemales are quite similar however,the male maypresent a whiteunderpartwhilethefemalemaypresent a cream to light browncolourunderpart.
Barn-owls feed on rodents, invertebrates and some largermammalsandsmallbirds. Studieshaveshownthat this species is able to separate different materials in theirstomach, including hair, bonesandother non-digestibleparts. The pellet cycle is regular, regurgitating the remains when the digestive system has finished extracting the nutrition from the food. This is often done at a favourite roost. When an Owl is about to produce a pellet, it will take on a pained expression. Owl pellets differ from other birds of prey in that they contain a greater proportion of food residue. This is because an owl’s digestive juices are less acidic than in other birds of prey.
Scientific research, contributes to the generation of local knowledge and helps the scientific community to fill in several gaps and areas of knowledge that still need to be investigated.
This week we have the visit of two researchers, Ederson and Beatriz, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), who are looking for Amalactus carbonarius species larvae. This beetle belongs to the Curculionidae family, known as Weevils. It was found recently that this species finds shelter on the Southern Cattail (Typha domingensis), which is found at REGUA’s wetlands.
Typha domingensis is a very invasive plant spreading freely when in a suitable site. This is fine when growing on its native habitat, but the plant can become a serious weed in managed aquatic systems worldwide.
For that reason, it is important to keep the right balance between the area these plants occupy, in order to guarantee a minimum number of individuals that can shelter different insects.