Conducted by Dr. Karl Berg, Research Director at Great Wilderenss, the Parrotlet Project represents a diverse collaboration that expands on decades of avian research and natural resource conservation in the Llanos of Venezuela. Our goal is to integrate long-term demographic models into regional conservation tools, by continuing a 27-year study of reproduction and demography in a marked population of parrots. Our ongoing study of parrotlets at Masaguaral is focused on basic biology, population ecology and behavior.
Breeding and demography have been documented at this site every year since 1988, resulting in the banding of over 7600 individuals, detailed monitoring of 2600 nesting attempts and over 40,000 replicate sightings of individuals (Beissinger and Waltman 1991, Budden and Beissinger 2005, S. R. Beissinger, unpublished data).
As a result, the study represents the most vivid picture of any wild parrot and is one of the longest ongoing studies of any tropical bird. The Llanos is vast wetland of South America that provides habitat for huge numbers of birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife. However, conversion to agriculture, pollution and overhunting are serious threats to biodiversity.
Project Goals and Objectives
· Understand long-term dynamics in vertebrate populations.
· Foster sustainability of long-term ecological monitoring
· Contribute to comprehensive conservation strategy
Field work is centered at Hato Masaguaral and Hato Las Caretas, two cattle ranches and biological research stations located near the town of Calabozo, state of Guarico, Venezuela. Research follows established protocols in three nest box breeding populations that have been closely monitored since 1988.
The 110 nest boxes are dispersed over 3 km of disjoint fence-lines that traverse seasonally flood grasslands and gallery forest.
Food abundance and plant phenology.- Density and seed production estimates are obtained for seven plant species important to the parrotlets: Croton hirtus, C. miguelensis, C. spp. cf, Hyptis lanceolata, H. sauveolens.
Radio telemetry.- Our mark-resighting and mark-recapture effort provides coarse level information on movements of some individuals but do not account for predation or emigration events.
Education, Trainning, and Conservation .-
We are committed in developing local and regional ecosystem-preservation and conservation capability, through participatory agricultural, economic and social development projects.
The Great Wilderness partnership with Hato Masaguaral, Hato Las Caretas, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universad Central de Venezuela, Universdiad Simon Bolivar, Universidad Central, Fundacion Fudena, U. C. Berkeley, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Cornell University is committed to the development of appropriate technologies to advance ecosystem restoration and support basic natural science research and education in Venezuela as well as facilitate communication between conservation organizations, farmers, scientists, and resource managers.
The Parrotlet project and proposed Center will make a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation in the llanos of Venezuela, as well as showcase the potential for our grassroots community development and participatory resource management models to make a wider impact in conservation of tropical ecosystems worldwide.
Research Assistants needed for our field season 2016.-
National Geographic: http://bit.ly/1160xy5
National Public Radio (Bird Notes): http://birdnote.org/show/do-parrots-name-their-chicks
The Lab of Ornithology at Cornell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed9A4HPdXgQ
News from our ex research assistants: (More...)
Related scientific publications:
1. Berg, K.S., Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2013). Factor shaping the ontogeny of vocal signals in a wild parrot. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 338-345
2. Berg, K. S., Delgado, S. Cortopassi, K. A, Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2012). Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 279, 585-591.
3. Berg, K. S., Delgado, S. Okawa, R., Beissinger, S. R. and Bradbury, J. W. (2011). Contact calls are used for individual mate recognition in free-ranging green-rumped parrotlets (Forpus passerinus). Anim. Behav. 81, 241-248.
1. Science Magazine
Why Parrots Talk? Venezuela site offers clues: www.sciencemag.org
Science 22 July 2011: vol. 333 no. 6041 pp. 398-400. DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6041.398
2. Science Now
Parrotlet Chicks Learn their calls form Mom and Dad: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/parrotlet-chicks-learn-their-cal-1.html
3. Discover Magazine
Baby Parrots Learn their Names from their Parents: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/?p=30359#.UUoPH-sjpz0
4. Cornell Chronicle
Parrots give name to their nestlings: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July11/ParrotNaming.html
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