Dear Family and Friends,
We are just back from 5 months of studying parrotlets in Venezuela, and would like to ask for your help in fundraising for the upcoming year. We have a variety of exciting research and educational activities planned. Funding our 2016 field season would also help us complete the 29th consecutive year of demographic monitoring of a wild parrot population during a controversial period in our recent climatic history and help us bridge a pivotal point in the history of the project. Most long-term monitoring programs of wild animals occur in North America and Northern Europe, and have made important strides in helping us understanding how artic and temperate organisms are responding to climate change. However, the Tropics harbors most of the world’s plant and animal species, which are predicted to respond differently to global climate trends. Understanding climate changes effects on wild animals requires tirelessly marking and following many individuals over many years. Based at U.C. Berkeley, over the last 28 years a small army of Venezuelan and U.S. biologists have banded over 8000 individuals and monitored the fate of over 3000 nest attempts. It is the most exhaustive study of any wild parrot on Earth, and has yielded over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications and made it one of the best studied tropical vertebrates in South America. Parrots are the most threatened taxonomic group of birds on Earth, but many basic attributes of individuals and populations are poorly known in nature. Our most recent work into how they communicate and learn from each other has attracted an enormous amount of attention from the public because of its significance for understanding the biology and evolution of learning. In 2011 we began an ambitious project to determine if parents might actually be naming their offspring, a behavior only known to occur if humans, details of which can be found here:
We have again applied to the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research & Exploration for $19,000 grant to cover costs of next year’s field season (2016) and should hear early next year if we were successful. Our field season typically costs around $30,000 depending on what type of questions and equipment required, thus in the best case scenario, we would need to raise $11,000 by March 2016. Our specific objectives are to: augment a audio-video collection made inside their nest cavities, which now amounts to over 3000 hours (60 TB with backup); 2) increase our sample of 300 nestlings for stress levels (corticosterone); 3) monitor all nest attempts; 4) band all un-banded birds; 5) identify with telescopes all survivors from previous years; 6) quantify food abundance, temperature and rainfall throughout the field season. We maintain a field crew between 1 June – 10 December at Hato Masaguaral and Hato Las Caretas, two research stations and wildlife preserves just south of Calabozo, Guarico, Venezuela. If sufficient donors are interested we could arrange a tour of the region including a firsthand view of our work, and fabulous opportunities for viewing wildlife in surrounding national parks and protected areas.
If you think anyone might be interested in helping, please pass this along to them. Donations can be made by directly contacting us or going to our website a twww.greatwilderness.org where donations can be made on-line.
Any donation made to Great Wilderness are tax-deductible. Great Wilderness is a 501 (c) California-based organization.
. Thanks again for all your support.
Dr. Karl S. Berg
Please consider supporting our efforts.