|Jordan Karubian, Ph.D.|
|Associate Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles|
|Conservation of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird in the Ecuadorian Choco|
|Location: Choco rainforest, northwestern Ecuador|
|Species: Long-wattled Umbrellabird|
|Abstract: This grant will support for a yearlong Honors Thesis research project, to be conducted by an Ecuadorian university student. The proposed research will focus on the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, an endangered species of bird endemic to the Choco forests of Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. We will use radio telemetry, seed passage trials, and field observation to quantify seed dispersal by the Long-wattled Umbrellabird. This research will provide important information for the conservation of this endangered species and will further basic science. Findings will be disseminated via publication in peer-reviewed journals, public presentations at local communities, universities, and international scientific meetings, and direct contact with relevant NGOs. The ultimate objective of the project is to build long term, in-country conservation and research capacity in Ecuador by providing top level training for a promising young biologist.|
Project Update: October 2006
This research program is based around the Long-wattled Umbrellabird. The success encountered with this species has been used to leverage a broad range of related projects, all of which use top level science to achieve conservation results. One suite of projects focuses on detailed studies of charismatic animals like Banded Ground Cuckoo, the Purple-throated Fruit-crow, and the Choco Toucan. A second suite of projects studies higher level pattern and process such as long term monitoring of animal and plant diversity in relation to habitat type, seed dispersal dynamics and pollination ecology of hummingbirds.
Long-wattled Umbrellabird: This study has completed 4 years of continuous data collection on the Long-wattled Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger). Thirty-four individuals have been captured in mist nets and radio transmitters placed on all of them. The radio-tracking component of the study has yielded information on home range, habitat requirements, ecology, and social organization, which is currently being prepared for publication. Home ranges are ca. 50 ha., but show a strong centering around lek sites, which in turns leads to a strongly biased of seed dispersal. The first nest ever recorded for the species was found in 2002. Since then, the project has collected data on an additional 11 nests. A unique system of social organization has been discovered in the species, and data has quantified the species' role as a disperser of large seeds.
This project has extensively quantified mating behavior of the species and how this relates to the evolution of the extreme traits exhibited by males. Findings will help guide conservation planning in the Choco. We are already working informally with our collaborators Fundacion Jatun Sacha to translate these findings into reserve design and policy.
Banded Ground-cuckoo: Despite its large size and striking appearance, the Banded Ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus) is one of the most rare and poorly known species in Ecuador. It is endemic to the Choco and in danger of extinction. The first scientific study of the species has been completed, and two individuals were captured in mist nets, and radio transmitters were applied. Radio-tracking has helped to quantify home range, habitat requirements, ecology, and social biology, with obvious conservation implications. The first recorded case of a Banded Ground-cuckoo nest was recorded during this study. Our account of this nest is currently in press at the Wilson Journal of Ornithology and a second publication on home range size and habitat preferences is in review at the journal Condor. Authors on both papers include an Ecuadorian university student, a university student from the United States, and two residents of local communities.
Purple-throated Fruit-crow: The Purple-throated Fruit-crow is in the same family as the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, but exhibits strikingly different ecology and social organization. Whereas the Long-wattled Umbrellabird eats fruit, forms leks, and is in danger of extinction the Purple-throated Fruit-crow eats insects, lives in large, territorial groups, and is common. A detailed study of the Purple-throated Fruit-crow has begun for purposes of comparison with the Long-wattled Umbrellabird. Using this comparative approach, the hope is to elucidate how ecological differences can lead to markedly different social organization and conservation needs. Eight individuals have been captured and radio-tracked to date. Preliminary data show strong differences in home range size, foraging ecology, and social behavior compared to the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
For more information on this project please visit http://www.ioe.ucla.edu/CTR/IRTC_ecuador.html.