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.
For some reason green is not a common or popular colour for neotropical butterflies. Contrary to other tropical regions in the Old World, there are a mere handful of greenish butterflies in the American Tropics (some hairtreaks like Cyanophrys, Evenus, Arcas, Erora,the brush footed Nessaea and a few swallowtails) among them the very large malachite green and brown mimetic species with large squarish wings with scalloped margins. This butterfly is a perfect mimic of the heliconine (longwing butterflies) Philaethria wernickei and P. dido, from which it can be distinguished by the larger size, less elongated wings and the heavily serrated hindwing outer margin with 3 small knobbly tails.
It is a common species found over a vast area of the Americas from southern Texas, Florida and the West Indies into Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and south Brazil. Adults are species typical of open forest found from sea level to 1,500 metres in humid or seasonal disturbed forest habitat such as clearings, river banks, roads, edges, secondary growth and even orchards or gardens where many species of weedy or grassy Acanthaceae thrive (Blechum,Justicia,Ruellia). Adults are both attracted to flowers and rotten fruit, they often sun bask in lower foliage on trails, roads or gardens, and females patrol short stretches of this habitat looking for their host plants. The larvae are olive-black with pinkish and white tubercles, thus very reminiscent of toxic Parides and Battus swallowtail caterpillars. The pupae are pale lime-green with a few short spike-like spines.
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.
Mantled Hawk, Black and White Hawk-eagle and White-necked Hawk are three very special
bird species found at REGUA, they are stunning to see with their white plumage contrasting against a blue Brazilian sky. These three species are in the family of Accipiters which comprises hawks, eagles and kites.
Mantled Hawk is an Atlantic Rainforest endemic feeding on a variety of prey including small birds, lizards, large insects and small mammals. They sit on perches and ambush their prey sometimes staying in the same area for several days. Often it is the call that alerts us that the bird is around. It is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN red data list.
Black and White Hawk eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucu) is slightly larger than Mantled Hawk, it also has a much larger distribution and is considered of least concern by the IUCN. REGUA’s bird guide, Adilei Carvalho da Cunha says it can be regularly seen from trails around the reserve.
A third member of the accipiter family found at REGUA is White-necked Hawk, a smaller hawk which is white with black upper parts. This species is harder to see than the previous two species with its habit of gliding above the trees and remaining mostly within the forested areas. It also tends to perch in the mid-storey of the forest or within the canopy making it harder to find. The diet is similar to the previous two species, but may feed lower to the ground.
These birds can be seen around the reserve at REGUA and on some of our offsite trips.
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!
With the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on travel, as with so many places around the world, REGUA tourism levels have collapsed.
Rainforest Trust, who have helped to raise funds for us over the years, came to our aid and helped us support Adilei, REGUA’s bird guide until guests can return.
With this hiatus in his usual work Adilei has been able to do many regular walks around the reserve as well as maintaining the trails. On a recent survey of the wetlands, Adilei spotted a female Masked Duck in the middle of one of the wetland lakes. He played the call and to his surprise the bird flew toward him and landed a few metres away. The bird called with a series of short high-pitched calls in a falling crescendo.
Masked Duck is associated with wetlands which have rafts of water plants on the surface. They use these plants as camouflage and hide out of sight. As it is small duck and sits rather low in the water it can be very hard to find. Adilei’s photograph actually shows the bird in relatively clear water, maybe it was reassured by the call and Adilei’s calm, quiet enjoyment.
REGUA’s wetlands have always had this species and many guests have seen it here, however as the wetlands have matured and with the growth of the planted trees, and increased weed growth, sightings have reduced and they have become increasingly hard to see.
A male was seen last year and with this latest sighting, hopefully we will be able to see more of them in the future.
Birding at REGUA is not so easy and demands much attention and physical resistance from the birder. Trekking up slopes of what remains of the Atlantic Rainforest in a hot climate and with birds that are naturally shy, makes for hard birding conditions. The forest litter that protects the soil and retains soil moisture makes for noisy crunchy walks, giving away one’s presence in the attempt to catch a glimpse of any bird. One of the toughest birds to see is the Solitary Tinamou, (Tinamus solitarius), a large terrestrial bird that was historically much persecuted for Sunday meals. The Solitary Tinamou is an Atlantic Rainforest endemic feeding mostly on insects and toady it is labelled “Near” threatened by the IUCN red data list.
Though hunting has significantly reduced at REGUA, on any forest walk, we can hear these birds call very occasionally, though to see one is another matter. It is probably easier to find a ground nest with a couple of emerald green eggs than the birds themselves.
Adilei recounted his joy at hearing an adult call on one of his walks and when trying to stalk it found only a young chick attempting to merge in with the leaves. Naturally well camouflaged, it went into the brush to make it hard to catch a crisp image. This was a joyous moment for Adilei, as one so rarely sees these birds in the wild. A good sign that REGUA efforts in protection and conservation is contributing to increase their numbers.
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.
The Rufescent Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum) is often seen at REGUA’s wetlands. This species belongs to the Ardeidae family and inhabits Central and South America. Its head, sides of the head, and long, thick neck are rich chestnut brown to rufous cinnamon. The bill is relatively long, up to 10 cm, appearing slightly up tilted, and varies in colour according to age and season, in ways that are not well understood. Immature birds are variable, undergoing gradual plumage changes through the fifth year. The adult Rufescent Tiger-Heron is identified by its rich chestnut to rufous brown neck and head, dark and white lined throat, dark flanks with narrow white bands, white banded under wings, and relatively long neck and lower legs. Male and female reaching adult age are alike, although there is an indication of sexual difference in plumage details.
This species inhabits wooded tropical swamps. It occurs especially along slow-moving rivers in swamp forests, gallery forest, mangrove swamps and in other extensive forested wetlands. It is a typical bird from the great wetlands of South America, the Amazon, the Paraguayan and Argentinean Chaco, and the Brazilian Mato Grosso. It is common to spot them on rainy and dark days, as they seem to be lonely bird. Their nests are often built on top of trees and shrubs, composed by many sticks. The breeding season is not well documented and there is a need for additional study. Its diet includes fish, amphibians, insects, and snakes. Its long tarsus, bill, and neck suggests a primary adaptation for fishing. When they feel threatened, they remain motionless until they finally fly, finding shelter on top of the trees.
These pictures were taken by Claudia Bauer, a renowned Brazilian ornithologist who belongs to a birdwatcher’s club in Rio de Janeiro. She often comes to REGUA to photograph birds and nature. It is an inspiring hobby!
January 31st, “Private Reserve for the Patrimony of Nature”.
(RPPN Portuguese acronym) Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest is basically tropical forest that stretches 20 degrees of latitude hugging South America’s continental rim. From seashore and beach vegetation to lofty mountain peaks, this biome is a mixture of endless habitats with unique and rich biodiversity that contributes to one of the highest rates of endemism on the planet. However, it is also the region of historical occupation and this has made this region a global conservation “hotspot”, and it needs all the help it can get!
Três Picos State Park and adjacent protected areas form the largest remnant of Atlantic Forest in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is in this area that the NGO Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) is located. REGUA’s mission is the protection of the Guapiaçu catchment and one effective tool for long term conservation is the creation of “Private Reserve for the Patrimony of Nature”, or simply “RPPN” of a property’s forested area. REGUA applies to the RJ State environmental agency INEA, requesting areas be officially registered as RPPN.
REGUA has established 5 RPPNs adjacent to the Park’s perimeter, totaling 700 hectares and REGUA wants more!. Activities such as environmental education, scientific research and visitation can occur with the support of REGUA´s staff.
RPPN offers protection for biodiversity and defines the land use of areas outside existing parks, both important aspects for future regional planning. Any farmer with forests in their property can effectively protect them and we hope that more land owners rally to having a RPPN!
Today we celebrate the “RPPN” day and we wish all the success to the owners and congratulate the authorities INEA and ICMBIO for actively participating and supporting this process.
This week, at REGUA’s orchid house, the species Miltonia moreliana was in flower. It is a beautiful orchid usually found at around 300 metres above sea level in old secondary forests.
A small South American genus of which nine species are found in Brazil and seven of these occur in the Serra dos Orgãos mountain range. Miltonia moreliana requires abundant sun exposure, moderate humidity and ventilation.
Whenever we feel like getting to know orchids occurring on our mountain range a bit better, we ask specialists like Maria do Rosário de Almeida Braga or we look at the book “The Organ Mountain Range, Its History and Its Orchids: Rio de Janeiro” by David Miller(Author), Richard Warren (Author), Izabel Moura Miller (Author and photographer) and Helmut Seehawer(Contributor). It’s a fantastic publication!
On March 1st 2019, the UN General Assembly declared 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. There exists an urgent need to accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. Healthy ecosystems are essential for sustainable development that contributes to poverty alleviation. The UN Environment Programme and UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) are leading the global movement which includes over 70 countries committed to restoring more than 170 million hectares of degraded land worlwide. Ecosystem Restoration implies environmental,social and economic gains through which people´s well-being and nature´s resilience is enhanced.
REGUA is one example of good practice conducive to these global goals.
Among the few students who visited REGUA last year, a very atypical year in which most universities’ field trips were cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic, PhD student Beatriz Ferreira proceeded with her research topic of evaluating how pasture management with isolated tree clumps decreases the effect of deforestation and encourages the presence of Anuran tadpoles in pasture puddles.
Anurans use these ponds for reproduction which become fundamental to their existence. Jefferson Ribeiro and Orlando de Marques Vogelbacher accompanied Beatriz on her last 2020 field trip to REGUA. They are both Biology PhD students and have taken beautiful pictures of flora and fauna found at REGUA.
For the last 20 years, REGUA has been encouraging and supporting research carried out by national and foreign universities.
Research at REGUA is one of the main pillars on which we base our conservation mission in the upper Guapiaçu watershed. Ultimately, understanding the dynamics of nature allows us to acknowledge that Mother Earth’s environmental services are paramount to human permanence on the planet.
We hope continuing welcoming researchers and students this year.
Plants belonging to Dahlstedtia genus occur exclusively within the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states in Brazil.
This genus is represented by two species: D.pinnata and D.pentaphylla. However, some specialists consider the genus as monotypic. Dahlstedtia plants grow both as bushes and trees. Hummingbirds regularly visit their beautiful pink or reddish flowers.
Locally known as “Timbo”, its roots and bark were used by indigenous people to dumb and asphixiate fish as part of their fishing practices.
This Dahlstedtia was found and photographed within a new acquired area by REGUA.
The “Bosques da Memória” Campaign 2020 is all about planting trees as a tribute to COVID-19 victims, and a way to thank doctors and those working in hospitals in Brazil.
We are all going through a difficult year due to the Covid pandemic, forcing us to slow down and adapt to a different life style. This only adds to the climate crisis and the forest fires and deforestation, which have destroyed many forests in Brazil.
This campaign offers us some hope to change the loss of forests, reminding us of the risks of climate change.
Trees to be planted at REGUA will be dedicated to those impacted by Covid. There are already 21 sites sharing in this campaign across the country. The idea is to involve different conservation institutions, NGOs and those individuals who want to take part.
Anyone who feels like dedicating the memory of a lost one through planting a tree, please contact us.
The Dutchman Jean-Paul Boerekamps visited REGUA in 2018 and returned last week in spite of the global Covid scare, to complete a Bioblitz around the mountainous region of Nova Friburgo and also at REGUA. Though a birder, he has become increasingly a Naturalist and through the digital platform “Inaturalist”, he came to SE Brazil with the mission of photographing and uploading images of all creatures and plants, and inspiring others with his passion!
REGUA’s Bioblitz lasted a week and together we managed to make one thousand different species observations, half of which have been positively identified by the Inaturalist community. JP visited “Waldenoor”, a restored area that slowly shifts into a more mature forest; the green trail, where he was accompanied by Rildo de Oliveira, in charge of patrolling/monitoring the highest and most preserved forests at REGUA; the “Fragment”, where he could walk through a special remnant of well-preserved lowland forest; and the Vecchi reserve, 15 km away from REGUA, composed mostly by open areas, allowing whoever visits it to have a good idea of local biodiversity.
JP photographed many moths that came to the moth wall every evening, attracted by light that strongly stimulates/excites them. One special observation was a moth belonging to the Notodontidae – subfamily Dioptinae.
According to our butterfly expert Jorge Bizarro, this is an uncommon species, which is difficult to identify. Jorge knows that it belongs to the subfamily Dioptinae, a group of diurnal Neotropical moths, many of which have bright winged colours. Identifying certain species on i-naturalist is never easy, so sharing one’s observations allows one to practice the concept of citizen science and allows one to exchange knowledge with others similarly interested in th same subject. This process allows experts and beginners to exchange information.
Now that the Bioblitz is over, we can add observations to ‘REGUA Biodiversity Celebration’, a long term project that is soon to reach 10 thousand observations by the end of this year. If any of you would like to help us, any of you who have visited REGUA may contribute to this project by uploading previous observations. It’s quite straightforward; you just need to create an Inaturalist account and upload your photographs from your computer or your phone. We would really like you to help us achieve this result. Here is the link; https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/regua-biodiversity-celebration and add your sighting! Thanks JP for sharing your passion with us all here at REGUA!
We are preparingourselves for a Bioblitz weekthatwill take place in midNovember 2020. The projectentitled‘REGUA Bioblitz 17-24 November 2020’ ispartoftheInaturalistcitizenscienceinitiative. INaturalistis a platformwhereyoucanrecordwhatyousee in nature, meeting othernatureloversandscientistsandlearningaboutthe natural world around us. Youcan use it torecordyourownobservations, eitheruploadingyourpicturesonthe website orevenusingthe app. It’s recommendable downloading the app. The platform uses AI (artificial intelligence) for flora and fauna identification in case youneed some help.
Everyonecanbecome a naturalistphotographingtheirsubjectofinterestcontributingtoscience. Adheringtocitizenscienceallowsustolearnand understandaboutnature. Thereisalso a longtermprojectcalled ”REGUA BiodiversityCelebration” thatalreadycountswith more than 7.000 observationsexhibiting more than 1.700 flora and fauna species. Thisprojectwasconceivedbythecontributionofmanypeoplewhopostedtheirphotographs, includingpastrecordsfromprevioustripsand some otherswhohelpedtoidentifyspecies. Addingobservations help REGUA acknowledgewhichspecies are presentwithin its territory. It’sworth consideringthe following tips:
Everypictureisrelevant. Youdon’thavetobe a brilliantphotographer (onthecontrary, in some cases the system learns more from low resolution images);
Youdon’thavetobe a specialistto post observations. Youcan upload pictures ofordinary, daytodayspecies. Just informthe system which is the taxonomic group you are referringto;
WhenpostinganobservationwithinREGUA’sterritory, it willbeautomaticallyincluded in theprojectrelatedto REGUA;
It’s a goodopportunitytolearnaboutthedifferenttaxonomicgroups. Bear in mind there are specialistslookingatyourobservationsandthattheycan help you identify them;
It’sfunto go throughInaturalistandyouwillhavegood memories of REGUA whileuploadingyourpictures.