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THESIS PROJECTS & INDEPENDENT RESEARCH

Professional support for graduate and post-graduate students and independent researchers seeking ideal study themes and sites in Amazonian Peru

We are particularly keen on accepting students interested in focusing their thesis or dissertation on the following ecological questions, although we are also open to receiving alternative research proposals or variations on the questions below.

1. Mammals

 

1.1 To what extent does primate group size and home-range size vary with forest type and fruit resource composition and availability in Amazonian Peru?

 

1.2 What do seed/fruit removal experiments tell us about the composition of mammal communities within and between sites in Amazonian Peru?

 

1.3 How does ecotourism, Brazil nut extraction, timber extraction, and/or bush-meat hunting by local communities affect the diversity, abundance and activity patterns of mammals in Amazonian Peru?

 

1.4 How habituated to the presence of humans are mammal species at increasing distances from ecotourist lodges, research stations, and rural villages in Amazonian Peru?

 

1.5 How does the geophagy (clay-eating) activity patterns in rainforest mammals vary from place to place in Amazonian Peru, based on camera-trap methods and direct observations?

 

1.6 What is the rate of seed dispersal by bats, using a Piper plant and Phyllostomidae bat model, in Amazonian Peru?

 

1.7 What types of bat-resting and bat-feeding structures can be used to attract fruit bats into open, degraded areas (such as abandoned cattle pasture and abandoned gold mining areas) with the aim of encouraging the natural reforestation or regeneration of these areas in Amazonian Peru?

2. Birds

 

2.1 How do the characteristics (species composition, abundance, home-range size) of mixed-species bird flocks differ between forest types in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.2 How does the abundance of oropendola, cacique, macaw, parrot and other flocking bird species differ as the distance from human settlements increases in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.3 How does the diversity and abundance of nocturnal raptors (Strigidae), based on transect and call-count station sampling methods, differ between sites in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.4 How does the density of riverside raptor species vary between river systems in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.5 How does the flower-visitation rate by hummingbirds vary between flowering plant species, between hummingbird species, and between forest types (areas of differing forest structure and floristics) in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.6 How does the species and colony size of army ants (e.g. Eciton sp.) affect the community of insectivorous birds that follow army ant swarms?

 

2.7 How does the size, composition (number of individuals), and habitat characteristics of Screaming piha (Lipaugus vociferans) and Band-tailed manakin (Pipra fasciicauda) leks vary within and between sites in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.8 How does the diversity and abundance of four species of vulture vary along a gradient from agriculture through disturbed forest to undisturbed forest in Amazonian Peru?

 

2.9 How does the diversity, abundance, and community structure of Passerine birds vary along an agriculture-use intensity gradient (monocrop agriculture vs agroforestry vs secondary forest regrowth vs intact forest) in Amazonian Peru?

3. Herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles)

 

3.1 How does the abundance of Dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus sp.) vary between forest streams and main river channels in Amazonian Peru, and what stream/river characteristics help explain any difference observed?

 

3.2 How and why does the mean size and weight of amphibian and reptile species differ within and between sites in Amazonian Peru?

 

3.3 How does forest structure and light gap characteristics affect the diversity, abundance, and behavior of lizards in Amazonian Peru?

 

3.4 How does the size and position of temporary ponds made from natural and artificial materials affect the amphibian species that use them, in Amazonian Peru?

 

3.5 What is the herpetological conservation value of Brazil-nut midden piles in Amazonian Peru?

 

3.6 Are there behavioural and/or habitat differences between populations of each colour morph of the Crested forest toad complex (Rhinella margaritifera) and the Adenomera frog complex in Amazonian Peru?

4. Invertebrates

 

4.1 Is there a relationship between dung-beetle biomass and mammal biomass in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.2 How abundant are phoretic mites on dung-beetles in Amazonian Peru, and what factors affect this abundance?

 

4.3 What is the “perfect” bait mixture for attracting the most diverse assemblage of butterflies to Van Someron-Rydon-type live traps in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.4 How diverse is the insect community (with an emphasis on a particular Order, like beetles) that inhabits Guadua bamboo thickets as compared with neighboring forest types (without bamboo) in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.5 How does the variation in arthropod size affect the rate of mass loss of carrion (decomposing meat) in different forest types in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.6 What is the rate of mass loss of dead woody material as a consequence of termites and fungi in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.7 How does the community of microscopic animals and plants found in temporary water bodies (such as those found in bromeliads, hollow tree trunks, and the holes left by fallen trees) vary across sites in Amazonian Peru? Note: Microscopy equipment is available on site.

 

4.8 How does the diversity, abundance, and biomass of spiders differ between forest types in Amazonian Peru?

 

4.9 What is the relationship between the abundance of cicada launch tubes and forest types in Amazonian Peru?  

5. Botany and Carbon

 

5.1 What tree seedlings regenerate naturally in the forest gaps made during the process of selective harvesting of tropical timber trees in Amazonian Peru, and is there a relationship to the extracted tree species?

 

5.2 How does the productivity of trees differ between forest types, as measured by the biomass of falling leaves, fruit, and flowers, in Amazonian Peru?

 

5.3 What is the relationship between the abundance of key-stone fruiting tree species and the abundance of fruit-eating mammal and bird species in Amazonian Peru?

 

5.4 How does the size distribution of big trees like Dipteryx, Bertholletia, Ceiba, and Ficus trees differ between forest plots in conservation areas, as compared to timber concessions, and close to local communities in Amazonian Peru?

 

5.5 What is the soil carbon content in seasonally-flooded palm swamps and how does it compare to the soil carbon in terra firme forest types in Amazonian Peru?

 

5.6 How does the estimated above ground carbon content of trees in 0.05-ha plots vary across a gradient from seasonally-flooded forest to non-flooding terra firme forest in Amazonian Peru?

6. Photography-based science

 

6.1 What pollinators (particularly insects) visit certain species of flowering plants (e.g. Heliconia sp., Coffea sp., etc.) in Amazonian Peru?

 

6.2 Using time-lapse photography to study (1) tree seedling growth, (2) decomposition rates of fruit, mushrooms, dead animals, (3) river and stream level change, and (4) change in size and depth of seasonal water bodies on the forest floor.

If you are interested in pursuing one of the above ecological research questions at one or more of our field sites in Amazonian Peru or want to propose your own research question to study, then please contact us using the form below or write us at info@faunaforever.org.