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Introduction to Photographic Essays

Module by: John Janovec. E-mail the author

Summary: An introduction to the photographic essays on the Los Amigos Conservation Area.

Introduction

The available photographic essays provide image-rich summaries of selected topics related to Botany of the Los Amigos Conservation Area. An overall goal for the Botany project is to discover and document the botanical diversity of the study area. Through the available photographic essays, you can view the people and places of the Botany project during 2001-2002 -- plant collectors, field assistants, students, and principal investigators.

The first available photographic essay is contributed by Amanda Neill about Gurania, a large genus of the cucumber family of flowering plants. Amanda is a Ph.D. student conducting taxonomic, evolutionary, and biogeographic studies of Gurania at The New York Botanical Garden. The Los Amigos Biological Station and Conservation Area have provided Amanda with a golden opportunity to conduct intensive long-term studies of the morphology, biology, and ecology of five sympatric species of Gurania.

Mauritia flexuosa(Arecaceae) is a majestic palm growing to 25 meters in dense mono-dominant stands formed in swamps (called "Aguajales") in the Madre de Dios River valley and other regions of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. This large palm, often called the "tree of life" in the Iquitos, Peru, region, is well-known as a wild-harvested source of edible fruits, fruit secondary products (i.e., ice cream), and fibers. The Aguajal Project has been initiated through a collaboration between John Janovec and Mathias Tobler. Preliminary studies of the Aguajal ecosystem in and around Los Amigos in the Madre de Dios have uncovered new data on the biology, ecology, fruit production, and economic value of Mauritia flexuosa in the Los Amigos area. These findings are being written in manuscript format for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal (Biodiversity and Conservation). The purpose of the Aguajal Project photographic essay is to introduce you, through vivid and diverse imagery, to a summary of our findings, hypotheses, needs, and concerns about the Aguajal palm swamps of the Los Amigos area.

During July-August 2002, Piers Majestyk accompanied John Janovec to Los Amigos where he spent several weeks making collections of the cryptogams of Los Amigos. See the Cryptogamic Flora of Los Amigos essay, which currently focuses on summarizing a young project aimed at discovery and documentation of the mosses, lichens, liverworts, and ferns of the area. Please be patient as identifications are made.

One major highlight of the 2001-2002 Botany activities at Los Amigos has been the new collaboration involving Mathias Tobler who comes to us from Switzerland. Mathias was trained in GIS and Landscape Ecology through a M.S. program at the Swiss Institute of Technology. He has considerable experience in tropical field research, as he has conducted savannah ecology studies in Tanzania and Tapir studies in Costa Rica. Through his previous academic and independent projects, Mathias has become an expert at GIS mapping, remote sensing, mammal monitoring, and integrative techniques of landscape ecology. Here we use an image-rich essay format to present some of the geospatial characteristics of the landscape of Los Amigos and vicinity. This also relates to the Aguajal Project.

Dan Lebbins, a Ph.D. student in the Ornithology Laboratory at Cornell University, visited the Los Amigos Biological Station and Conservation Area for a period of four days in late July. His diligence and skills allowed him to quickly assess the bird diversity and community structure at Los Amigos and begin building a list of bird species that occur in the area. Because of Dan's skill and passion for tropical bird studies, Mathias and John have added him to a team that plans to ask specific questions about the distribution, species diversity, ecology, economics, conservation, and management of the Aguajal ecosystem.

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