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Árvores na floresta

Research History at REGUA

Creating a comprehensive inventory of the species present seems relatively easy, but the inaccessibility of much of the terrain and the stealthy nature of many species makes surveying even the easiest groups, such as birds, difficult. After ten years of regular visits by experienced bird watchers, new species are still being found in the reserve, and there may be another 30 high altitude species yet to be discovered in the higher areas.

 

Although many visitors can contribute important records of birds and mammals, the job of finding and identifying bats, amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants is essentially left to professionals and university students who are currently regular visitors to REGUA.

 

Historic

REGUA has always endeavored to develop close working relationships with Brazilian Research and Education institutions and bodies to their mutual benefit. REGUA can provide a safe environment with high quality habitats in which to conduct studies, as well as accommodation and meals when needed and logistical support from its staff. In return, REGUA obtains the results and published data of the work carried out, which improves our understanding of the environment and the biodiversity we are protecting, informing our habitat and species management plans.

After the first bird surveys, the first scientific research was carried out in 2001, when the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro visited us to carry out an inventory of arachnids and ichthyofauna. Although no new scientific species were discovered, they confirmed that REGUA contained high quality forests and identified the reserve as a suitable site for further research.

In 2002, REGUA signed a cooperation agreement with the Maria Teresa University of Niterói (FAMATh) and the University of Serra dos Órgãos, in Teresópolis (FESO). During its two-year research programme, REGUA hosted more than 20 students who had completed their studies in Biology and Veterinary Science (Department of Wildlife) who helped to compile an inventory of animal species using basic and inexpensive field methods such as traps and cameras, mist nets and basic observation walks. This was followed up in 2002-03 by a team of two researchers and two FESO students who collected additional data on a monthly basis. The final results were published in two theses with lists of species and their geographical distribution.

In 2002, the Três Picos Park, with 46,000 hectares, was created, and REGUA immediately signed a cooperation agreement with INEA (at the time the Instituto Estadual de Florestas (IEF)), allowing the continuation of all research in the reserve. In 2003, Eduardo Rubião joined the REGUA team to coordinate the research, which proved to be fundamental in establishing the network of trails and training forest rangers in basic monitoring work. Also in 2003, the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), together with the BIOMAS Institute, carried out the first surveys of amphibians and reptiles at REGUA.

In 2003-04, REGUA invited Brazilian ornithologist Dr. Fabio Olmos to carry out a survey of all the bird species present in the reserve. This study confirmed that REGUA met Birdlife Brazil's criteria to be listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) with an extensive list of high quality and endangered birds. This research also helped to promote REGUA as an excellent potential site for the reintroduction of the Southeastern Curassow Crax blumbachi in the state of Rio. In 2005, this reintroduction project received approval from IBAMA and the first 20 birds reared at the Crax Institute in Belo Horizonte were released to REGUA in August 2006. All released birds were equipped with radio transmitters to be monitored by Christine Steiner, from UNESP, as part of a doctoral study.

 

In 2007, another 20 individuals and a group of 20 Aburria jacutinga were released. Although additional reintroductions were planned, the lack of availability of suitable birds prevented the successful completion of this work, although a great deal of information was gained which will undoubtedly benefit other bird reintroduction programs in the future.

The creation, in 2005, of the extensive wetlands at REGUA, on the former São José Farm, provided Professor Tim Moulton, from UERJ, with an excellent opportunity to monitor the development and changes in aquatic life and metabolism. Four monitoring points were established to collect data pertinent to changes in fauna and flora and water quality, including conductivity, temperature, pH and oxygen concentration. Measurements of turbidity, chlorophyll and luminosity were also carried out during 24-hour cycles at the drainage points of the wetlands. The collected data revealed that the water entered the flooded area with a low level of oxygen concentration (about 10%) and became oversaturated (about 120%). The study also showed that during the monitoring period, Ephemeroptera, Odonata and Hemiptera species increased in diversity.

In 2006, Andre Cunha, from UERJ, looked for Muriqui, Brachyteles arachnoides at REGUA, and was lucky enough to make several good observations. In 2007, after new sightings, an article was written and published in the scientific journal Neotropical Primates, entitled Additional sightings of the muriqui population (Brachyteles arachnoides) in the Ecological Reserve of Guapiaçu – REGUA, Cachoeiras de Macacu – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Geoffroy, 1806 ). The Muriqui used to be abundant throughout Brazil's Atlantic Forest, but is now listed as endangered by IUCN criteria and this number is believed to be less than 1,000 individuals throughout the remaining range. As REGUA acquires more land and hunting disturbance decreases, the number of sightings of these primates has increased, making REGUA one of the best places to study this rare species in the State of Rio de Janeiro

Between 2007 and 2011, REGUA's reputation continued to grow in academia, having received an average of three new research projects per year, and three new institutions (UNIFESO Centro Universitário Serra dos Órgãos; Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) and Universidade de Leipzig) went on to study at REGUA. Most of these studies have focused on the vertebrate fauna (mainly herpetology and ornithology), with a single study on palm trees and another on valley geomorphology.

 

The year 2012 saw an explosion in demand for professional courses (such as Selvagem em Foco) and university field courses held at REGUA – 15 notable courses and workshops – and recorded the highest annual number of new projects started (eight). A prestigious institution that started to operate here was also FIOCRUZ. It is also interesting to note that the range of subjects has expanded to freshwater fish fauna, arthropods (spiders, beetles, butterflies, ants, flies and mosquitoes and dragonflies), botany (Melastomataceae, epiphytes), ecology of reforestation ecotones on permanent plots around wetlands, carbon-based studies and even projects in sociology (the impact of private nature reserves on local communities).

 

Some of these projects now also incorporate data provided by REGUA volunteers and visitors, and most of the new bird species are added by the many very experienced birders who visit the reserve. In addition to several articles published in periodicals and magazines, our volunteers also contributed with the publication of specialized books on the fauna of the region. The first one, a guide to identifying hawkmoths (Sphingidae), was published in 2011, and two other books on Odonata and Aves were published in 2015. of our main objectives.

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