Tag Archives: Jorge Bizarro

Small is Beautiful

The task of ‘checklisting’  butterfly fauna in tropical rainforests usually demands a lot of hours spent in the field.    Armed with a good camera, a pair of binoculars and sometimes a hand net or fermented fruit bait.

Panthiades phaleros L
Panthiades phaleros L. seen twice around the Lodge (© Jailson da Silva ‘Barata’)

Around 20-30% of the local butterfly species can be sampled in 5-7 days in the height of the flight season and in the correct habitats.   These are mostly common or easy to spot species, associated with natural or manmade disturbed and transition environments.

In the tropics the number of species is high but the same does not apply to the number of individuals found and populations, which can be quite scarce and elusive.   That is why developing a more complete list can take over five years of intensive field sampling.

The checklist starts with the big showy butterflies (Brushfooted, Whites, Swallowtails, Skippers), but with time it is the elusive tiny hairstreaks, metalmarks and skippers that slowly grow the list.    A close look at them really shows how intricate and beautiful the patterns of some of these creatures are.

At REGUA, new records for the butterfly checklist usually come from the ranks of Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae) and Metalmarks (Riodinidae), two closely related families.

The last new records have been mostly the fruit of our Lodge Guests’ photographic skills.    Often these species are more easy to see and photograph on hilltops feeding on flowers, along forest hedges or trails, while sunbasking at early morning, after sunrise and in sunny spots inside the tropical forest (clearings, streams and river margins).    Metalmarks are famous for coming back and perch on the same exact spot at a particular hour of the day, year after year.

Callephelis sp.nov R
Grassy open area Metalmark: Callephelis sp. nov R (© Richard & Siri White)

In REGUA, some places where these rainforest jewels can be seen more frequently are: hilltops (for example the trees around the Lodge swimming pool and at the top of the Red Trail), clearings and trail edges (i.e., parts of the Green Trail, Valdenoor’s open area, the São José Trail) and some old forest fragments (like the Onofre Cunha and Lengruber areas).


The Caledonia mountain excursion is another highlight for higher altitude species of Hairstreaks and Metalmarks, especially from February to late April.

Strymon ziba
Strymon ziba male perching at the top of the Red Trail (1004m) (© Jorge Bizarro)

Another interesting issue contributing to the checklist growth is the occurrence of very similar patterned species, sometimes even in very distinct genera, which once the confusion is sorted out can add another record to the list!


Citizen Science at REGUA

One of the marvellous things of wandering about with a digital camera in tropical forests nowadays is the ability of capturing nature scenes, oddities and novelties with amazing ease.   This opens up an entirely new world for the ‘army’ of nature lovers and widens the potential activity scope for people that share a common passion focused on some of Nature’s many faces; like bird or butterfly-watching, diving or nature photography.

A new branch of monitoring or even ‘tourism’ is arising: scientific citizen workmanship for registering and documenting biodiversity, new records, inventories, geotagging and data gathering.

Semomesia geminus (Photo:Jailson da Silva)
Semomesia geminus (© Jailson da Silva)

Picking the old saying that a picture (example) is worth a thousand words, a very rare and endangered Cattleheart Brazilian swallowtail butterfly, known only from two populations more than 1000 km away from each other, has been spotted in a new location due to a picture of Ricardo Costa, a keen REGUA visitor and amateur photographer that uploaded his picture on the web for identification: http://borboletaskmariposas.blogspot.com.br/2014/05/parides-burchellanus-westwood-1872.html
His initiative already generated a scientific paper and prompted the discovery of a dozen more localities in Minas Gerais State in 2013: http://biotaxa.org/cl/article/view/11.3.1663

Another example of ‘citizen amateurship’ sourced science is the publishing of a Rio de Janeiro new butterfly state record based on pictures taken by REGUA visitors on the reserve trails and that still hasn’t been seen by the actual ‘researchers’ yet! – Another paper has been published based on these pictures and temporal-spatial data gathered by the photos tags:

Jorge Bizarro