The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Results are in!

The BioBlitz update is finally here!  The remote location of our base camp means that sometimes news takes quite a while to reach me here in Quito, where I post all these updates to all the GVI Amazon fans out there.  My apologies for the delay, but I don't think you'll be disappointed!  BioBlitz was fantastic, and once again, we want to send a huge thank you to all our alumni, friends, family and fans who donated in support of the community reforestation program in the Amazon -- your donations kept us going through this crazy week of survey madness -- THANK YOU!   And a special thanks & congrats to our top fundraisers, stellar volunteer Carl and GVI Amazon's newest base manager and queen of Candy Mountain, Charlie --- way to go!
GVI Ecuador Country Director, Blaine Clarke   


GVI Amazon’s BioBlitz was intended to be a week of non-stop survey activity for GVI volunteers to find new species for the Yachana Reserve species list.  If we can give a comprehensive species list to the Yachana Foundation when we hand over the project in late September, we know we will have done the best job we can, and the species list will be an incredibly valuable tool for Yachana, in both their ecotourism program (employing large numbers of local people) and the education program as high school students continue to use the reserve as a hands-on science education center. Additionally, the BioBlitz was a chance to catalog many of the species here in the reserve and add them to the international iNaturalist wildlife database (, and a fun way to raise money for our partner's community-focused reforestation program in the Amazon through the GVI Charitable Trust.

measuring a caiman for iNaturalist
Even more, however, it was an opportunity to do things that we have always been curious about: how much would we see if we did a twenty-man (rather than the normal six) visual encounter survey? What comes to the waterhole at night? Is that muddy puddle a peccary wallow? What will we catch if we put a mist net high into the trees?

Abdon and the hide-building crew in front of their work -- can you see it?
And so it was that we, GVI Amazon volunteers and staff, entered BioBlitz week with an intrepid sense of adventure. Abdon, our Reserve ranger, built us a fantastically camouflaged hide of leaves at the waterhole; Lana and her team adapted a pulley system to hoist mist nets into the canopy; whiteboards were filled with schedules and plans; and we were ready to go. Seven, long sleepless days later what can I tell you? As I try to clear the fog from my eyes to focus on the screen, I can tell you we had fun. There were times when we had to draw strength from the fact that our friends and families donated money for the cause, just to get up and get out there again. We had to tell ourselves that a five hour walk in already-wet clothes after a four hour walk at the crack of dawn was a totally acceptable Sunday morning activity!

glass frog
I can also tell you that the muddy puddle IS a peccary wallow (although we sadly have no photographic evidence); and I can tell you that a twenty-man VES – through the forest at night is a NIGHTMARE for the poor staff members trying to keep a track of everything – although we did see some beautiful rarely seen frogs and a bad-tempered caiman. Additionally, there are even more butterflies on the reserve than we realized; previously unseen bat species are what will fly into the tree-top and steam-spanning mist nets, and beautiful leafy hides wash away in storms!

new bat species!
Overall, BioBlitz was a great success. We saw some amazing things, explored our rainforest, registered 12 brand new species for the Yachana Reserve species list (see the additions below), and raised over £1000 (GBP) for community reforestation and education in the Amazon! And now it is time for bed.

Charlie Coupland, GVI Amazon Base Manager

Newly recorded species for the Yachana Reserve, from GVI Amazon BioBlitz 2012

Teratohyla amelie (glass frog)
Leptodactylus hyladactylus
Pristimantis luscombei

Mus musculus 
Vampyressa pusilla (?) -- (A  bat species – not vampire! – species to be determined)

Urbanas simplicius
Quadrus contueeralis
Eunica norica
Strynon bubastus
Hyposcada kena
Anteros acheus

Eunectes marinus (baby anaconda! – technically, this guy showed up a bit before BioBlitz officially began, but we're including him as our first new species that kickstarted the week!)