The study area is into three field stations; Tono, San Pedro, and Wayqecha, located along the road from Cusco to Pilcopata. Although these stations are going to serve as base camps, we will be conducting weekly nest searches along the Manu road between 1200m and 3000m. We will sleep in tents at all of the stations, and the equipment you will need depends on the station you are assigned to (Recommended field equipment). There will be running water, basic cooking facilities, and electricity produced by a small generator at all of the stations. More detail about each station is provided below.
Tono (S 12º 57′ 22.4″; W 71º 28′ 53.9″): This is the only station located inside Manu National Park. To get there we take the road that connects Patria with the Tito house (Km 17). Then we walk for two hours to reach the magnificent camping location. Unfortunately, there aren’t platforms or houses where we can store the equipment. Last year we built a long roof with plastic that worked well. I am currently working with ACCA and INRENA to build two platforms and open a trail system. The team that will be in Tono will have more free days to go to Patria and Pilcopata to check internet and buy food.
Aside from all this, Tono is the most fascinating station, as it is a foothill forest where a mixture of lowland and highland species are found, not only in birds but also in plants. Therefore, it is the appropriate place to study reproductive mechanisms that may limit the distribution and survival of these species along the gradient.
Description: Tono is located a 1000m, with an average temperature of 18.5 ºC (26.1 ºC max y 12.9 ºC min). It is the warmest of all stations. Tono is pre-montane forest with a canopy height of 40m including lowland and highland species. There are extensive areas with two bamboo species Chusquea spp (highlands species) and Guadua spp (lowland species), where it is easy to find endemic bird species associated with this forest, though the nesting behaviors of these species are poorly known (Lebbin et al. 2007;PDF). This is also the station with the highest primate and vertebrate abundance (tapir, puma, jaguar and on occasion spectacled bear). There are many small beautiful streams with clean, running water close to the campsite, which are great to take a nice bath in the middle of the forest after a hard day of work. As I mentioned before, this elevation is the altitudinal limit for many lowland species and the lower limit for many cloud forest species (Terborgh 1977).
We will have cooking schedules at this station and in San Pedro, where the person that will be cooking will prepare a large quantity of food during lunch that should last for dinner. The breakfast will be prepared as a group. This is the station with highest insect activity so bring a lot of insect repellent. Also extremely humid, with a very real possibility of snake encounters, wasp and bee stings, heat exhaustion, and being caught in tropical downpours. You will always need to wear your rubber boots at this station.
San Pedro or Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge (S 13º 03′ 19.4″; W 71º 32′ 48.5″): This is mainly a tourist station that is located next to the Manu road where the San Pedro river meets the Kcosñipata river. However, the station offers a nice platform with a roof for the researchers with an excellent view of the valley. Tents will be located on the platform, where we have a nice table and cooking space. There are cold water showers, bathrooms and a place to wash and hang your clothes. The station has a decent trail system on both sides of the Kcosñipata river.
Description: The San Pedro platform is located at 1500m, but the station covers elevations between 1200 and 2000m. San Pedro is a typical cloud forest with a lot of moss and epiphytes, with a canopy height of 25m and an average temperature of 16.15 ºC (19.8 ºC max and 13.6 ºC min). Most of the lowland elevation species are absent at these elevations. But we still see monkeys (woolly and brown capuchin) and bamboo (where the recent new species of tanager was discovered). It is also somewhat humid, with steep terrain and a possibility of snake encounters, wasp and bee stings, and being caught in tropical downpours. We will have cooking schedules at this station and in Tono, where the person that will be cooking will prepare a large quantity of food during lunch that should last for dinner. The breakfast will be prepared as a group.
Wayqecha (S 13º 10′ 30.1″; W 71º 35′ 14.6″): The research center Wayqecha is part of the conservation and research study conducted by the association for the Amazonian watershed (ACCA), for more details visit http://www.acca.org.pe. The station has nice facilities where hot water and cooking services are provided for the researches. This is necessary because the temperatures at this station can reach below zero during the night, so good winter equipment is necessary here, you will need a warm sleeping bag and clothes that will keep you warm and dry. During the day there can be long periods of horizontal rain produced by the clouds which can make nest searching difficult.
Description: Wayqecha is located at 2900m but the station property covers elevations between 2000 and 3100m. The average daily temperature is 12.07 ºC (21.9 ºC max and 5.2 ºC min). This is the coldest one of the stations, and expect to get wet here, too. Biting insects are not as numerous as in Tono, but could be on occasion. Although this station suffered human induced fire in the past (before it was acquired by ACCA in 2000), the station has an extensive forested area with a canopy height of 15m. Like Tono, this station is important to understand the possible upper limit nesting mechanism that may be limiting species distribution and density along the gradient. The upper limit of forest is located at this station, just below the Puna ecosystem. Many cloud forest bird species are absent at this elevation.
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