Nectarivorous birds in the pollination network of the upper montane forest of the Andes

My research focus on understanding the nectarivore and pollination network between plants and nectarivorous birds in the elfin forest. This forest is a poorly known ecosystem located at the top of the tropical montane forest zone of the eastern Andes of Peru; and is may be among the ecosystems most affected by new regimes of humidity and higher temperatures due to climate change and anthropogenic destruction. I am setting up the structure and function of the network, and stating the relevance of the nectarivore birds (hummingbirds and flowerpiercers), which are predominant in this ecosystem. I think that nectarivorous birds, which play an important role in these pollination networks, are good biological indicators for ecosystem integrity, because they are usually restricted to a particular habitat and feeding guild.

The forest that I am currently monitoring is the Unchog forest inside the Carpish Mountains, a well-known place for birdwatchers that come to Peru which want to see several endemic bird species. I am visiting the forest constantly, mainly with young volunteers from Huanuco, students of environmental Sciences from the nearby Universities. We set up mist nets and do point counts to monitor bird populations; also survey plants to record their phenology and collect pollen from plants and nectarivore birds to understand the pollination network. We do experiments with the plants to see the importance of the pollinators in their reproduction. This research has a positive impact in conservation, the preliminary findings has been shared with the local authorities so they can decide in an adequate management program for this forest.

If you are interested in joining me in an expedition to my study site, contact me. You will have the opportunity to meet a unique and wonderful landscape with several endemic species. You will be trained in bird and plant monitoring and do field work in Pollination Ecology. If you want, I can give you a certificate of field assistant after your participation. Furthermore, in my small Biological station you will have the opportunity to live with a Quechua-speaking family and learn from their worldview. They are very happy to receive visitors from elsewhere.

This project had the sponsorship of the Royal Society for Bird Protection, Optics for the Tropics, Day Star Ministries, Tropical Conservation and Development field study grant and the Premio Anual a la Investigación Ambiental of the Ministry of Environment from Peru.

Registrando cantos de aves - Recording bird songs Cerro Unchog, Huanuco Flor de Fucsia - Fuchsia flower Bosque achaparrado - Elfin forest Colibri picoespada - Swordbilled hummingbird Tangara de Lomo dorado - Golden-backed Mountain Tanager