Amazon Research Center
The Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center (TRARC), a long-term conservation initiative undertaken in consultation with government offices in Iquitos and in collaboration with Chicago’s Rainforest Conservation Fund, Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Tahuayo River villages’ Comite de Gestion approved the TRARC undertaking in return for the facility’s sharing of project findings with the region’s indigenous villages.
The TRARC initiative is being developed to promote new collaborative projects in conservation biology, environmental studies, cultural anthropology, and more at the Area de Conservacion Regional Comunal de Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (ACRCTT). Auxiliary support is provided by TRARC projects that bear particular promise toward helping promote sustainable developments among ribereños culture in this large and precious portion of western Amazonia. Work with TRARC scientific board members, for example, will augment villagers’ knowledge of their rainforest plants, while progressively illuminating the spectacularly diverse plant communities of ACRCTT for modern science. Simultaneously, TRARC’s major collaborator, RCF, has launched new work with Planned Parenthood South America along the Tahuayo while continuing to grow ongoing programs in agroforestry, environmental education, and more along the Tahuayo.
Current director of the TRARC is noted primatologist Dr. Michael E. Pereira. Pereira’s expertise in research on primates is helping to safeguard Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo’s spectacular primate fauna: 16 species representing every South American primate family and spanning the continent’s range of body size. Recent observations suggest that the new approaches to conservation at ACRCTT will be important for area primates. Reserve-wide primate census was initiated in 2007. Students and tourists can choose to assist in the habituation for eventual study particular social groups of each of six large-bodied species of monkeys: Cebus apella, C. albifrons, Saimiri sciureus, Lagothrix lagothricha, Alouatta seniculus, and Cacajao calvus. This work is occuring on a research trail grid located behind the TRARC. During all-day follows of particular social groups, volunteers’ work will grow to include progressively more systematic and detailed records of data for contribution to cumulative TRARC databases.
The trail grid behind the research center lodge covers 52 miles spread over 1000 acres. It is the largest trail system offered in the Amazon. It is the best hike known in the Amazon for viewing primates in their natural environment. Twelve species of primates have significant populations on the grid:
The trail grid behind the Research Center is also a great place for seeing jaguars. With their motion activated night vision cameras they have already documented the highest jaguar density recorded in the Amazon. Sometimes jaguars can be seen in the day, but mostly they are active at night. Two platforms with blinds, about 3-5 meters above ground level, were constructed in places where the jaguars frequent.
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Guests of the Amazonia Lodge are encouraged to also spend time at the Research Center as there are more chances to see wildlife and more opportunities to hike. It is also very peaceful because it is farther away from communities, so it gets very little boat traffic coming by. It is a smaller lodge with shared bathrooms, excellent food, a relaxing hammock room close to the forest and internet access.
* Staff biologist Alfredo Dosantos will be continuing his work with Randall Myster, Ph.D. of Central Oklahoma University and the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies on seed dispersal in Amazonian ecosystems. Dr. Myster is writing the definitive text on defining the different types of Amazon forest ecosystems.
* Head birding guide Josias Huanacari will be continuing his work with ornithologist Carol Foss, Ph.D. on field studies of tropical bird ecology and behavior.
* John Koprowski, Ph.D. of the University of Arizona and his student Rosa Jessen recently completed a study of behavioral ecology of the rare Amazonian Pygmy Squirrel. Squirrels are considered to be important indicators of forest health world-wide.
* Janice Chism, Ph.D. of Winthrop University has worked for a decade on saki monkeys. Dr. Chism has determined that the sakis living on the trail grid are neither Monk Sakis nor Equatorial Sakis, but are in fact a new species of saki monkey not yet described by science. New species of large primates are rarely discovered, so this find is of major importance. Her work was presented to the International Primatological Society in August 2013.
* William Rogers, Ph.D. of Winthrop University has studied and published several papers on the pink dolphin population of the Tahuayo River.
* Wayne Murphy of the University of Leicester took core samples to study the history of vegetation along the Tahuayo River in 2012 and 2013.
* Fredrik Tegner of Uppsala University studied the ecology and social behavior of poison dart frogs in 2013.
* Doctoral candidate Rose Hores of Southern Illinois University has been conducting research on the very rare Bald Red-faced Uakari Monkey since 2012. This endangered species of monkey lives only in the ACRCTT and is sometimes found on the trail grid behind the Research Center.
* Barbara Land, Ph.D. of Nevada University has been conducting ethnological research in the riberenos native communities since 2011.