Rapid Biological Inventories: Results from the Field: Perú 24

PDFs of the Peru, Kampankis Inventory:
-Report in English
-Report in Spanish

Report at a glance

Dates of field work
2—21 August 2011

The Kampankis mountains are a long, thin range that runs parallel to and just east of the Andes, along the Amazonas-Loreto border in northwestern peru. measuring ~180 km long but just 10 km wide, the Kampankis form a knife-thin ridge with a maximum elevation of 1,435 m, separated from the Cordillera del Cóndor to the west by a thin strip of lowland forest 40–60 km wide. Our study area was delimited by the marañón river to the south (where it cuts through the Kampankis range at the manseriche Gorge) and by the peru-ecuador border to the north (beyond which the Kampankis range continues as the Cordillera de Kutukú). The Kampankis mountains and the rivers that drain them—the santiago to the west, the morona to the east, and the marañón to the south—have been inhabited for centuries by Jívaro people, principally the Wampis and Awajún.

Inventory sites
During three weeks in August 2011 the biological team, scientists from local communities, a geologist, and an anthropologist visited four sites in the Kampankis mountains:

Morona watershed: — Pongo Chinim, 2—7 August 2011

Santiago watershed: — Quebrada Katerpiza, 7—12 August 2011

Santiago watershed: — Quebrada Kampankis, 12—16 August 2011

Marañón watershed: — Quebrada Wee, 16—21 August 2011

During the same period, the social team visited eight indigenous communities, villages, and towns in the marañón and morona watersheds (Chapis, Ajachim, Nueva Alegría, borja, Capernaum, saramiriza, puerto América, and san Lorenzo), as well as four indigenous communities in the santiago watershed (puerto Galilea, Chapiza, soledad, and papayacu). On 21 August the biological and social teams presented preliminary results of their work in a public workshop in the indigenous community of puerto Galilea.

In 2009 a small social team visited the Chapra indigenous community shoroya Nueva and two Wampis indigenous communities (san Francisco and Nueva Alegría) on the morona river. Results from those visits are also included in this rapid inventory report.

Biological and geological inventories
Stratigraphy, geomorphology, hydrology and soils; vegetation and plants; fishes; amphibians and reptiles; birds; medium-sized and large mammals; bats

Social inventory
Social and cultural assets; communities’ current and historical ties to the Kampankis mountains; demography, economics, and strategies for managing natural resources

Principal biological results
The Kampankis mountains harbor extremely diverse biological communities in which the lowland Amazonian flora and fauna mix with elements typical of Andean montane forests. the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems we visited were in excellent condition, and this appears to be the result of a long history of protection and management by local indigenous communities.

During the rapid inventory we recorded at least 25 species of plants and animals that appear to be new to science. some of these may be restricted to the Kampankis range. As expected for an Andean foothills site, plant and animal diversity are among the highest in the tropics (with the exception of fishes, whose relatively low diversity in tropical mountain streams is offset by higher rates of endemism):
  Species recorded during the inventory Species estimated for the region
Plants 1,100 3,500
Fishes 60 300—350
Amphibians 60 90
Reptiles 48 90
Birds 350 525
Mammals 73 182

Our inventories of plants, amphibians, reptiles, and birds revealed an especially interesting flora and fauna in the highest parts of the Kampankis range (>700 m). The most striking species recorded during the inventory—including elements of Andean forests shared with the Cordillera del Cóndor, 40–60 km to the west—were found in forests on sandstone outcrops on the high crests and ridges.

The Kampankis mountains are well described in the geologic literature. they are composed of continental and marine deposits that range in age from the Jurassic (160 million years old) to the Neogene (5 million years old) and include eight geologic formations in which sandstones, limestones, and siltstones predominate. These form a geological structure known as an anticline: a fold in the earth’s surface that uplifts the bedrock, exposing older rocks at the center and younger rocks on its flanks. the Kampankis anticline was generated by the collision of the Nazca and south American plates in two pulses of uplift: the first dating to 10–12 million years ago, and the second, a more rapid uplift, dating to 5–6 million years ago.

The primary formations in the Kampankis range are of Cretaceous age and include both sandstones with quartz and lithic fragments and limestones (calcium carbonate). Due to their different chemical compositions and the different degrees to which they are exposed on the surface, these formations have produced a variety of soil types. sandstones are associated with poorly developed, nutrient-poor soils, while limestones are associated with deeper, richer soils. The creation and evolution of these soils have generated a mosaic of different soil types that are often associated with specific plant and animal species. Other factors, such as altitude, drainage (superficial for sandstones, subterranean for limestones), and the bedding angle of the different lithologic units, have determined the topography of the modern landscape and the spatial distribution of soil types, vegetation types, and animal communities there.

The vegetation of the Kampankis mountains varies with geology and elevation. We defined five primary vegetation types in the areas we visited: 1) riparian vegetation along streams and rivers; 2) lower hill forests between 300 and 700 m elevation, on sandy to clayey soils; 3) mid-elevation forests at 700–1,000 m, on sandy to clayey soils; 4) forests on limestone outcrops and associated soils, between 700 and 1,100 m; and 5) low forests on sandstone outcrops and associated soils on the highest slopes and ridges of the range, at 1,000–1,435 m elevation. in the lowlands adjacent to the morona and santiago rivers we saw but did not visit additional forest types, including palm swamps dominated by Mauritia flexuosa (known as aguajales) and mixed lowland forest.

The lower hill forests were the most extensive forest type, covering ~80% of the sites we visited. This is also the most diverse forest type, with >200 tree species per hectare—a level of woody plant diversity similar to that of other terra firme forests in western Amazonia and among the highest in the world. Most plant species in this forest type are widely distributed along the base of the Andes. We recorded some range extensions of species previously known from the Andean foothills in ecuador, including a new genus for peru: the canopy tree Gyranthera amphibiolepis (malvaceae). At higher elevations, forest structure and floristic composition change gradually until reaching the mid-elevation forests at 700–1,000 m, where common tree species include Cassia swartzioides (Fabaceae) and Hevea guianensis (euphorbiaceae).

Soils derived from outcrops of limestone formations between 700 and 1,100 m elevation are clayey and relatively fertile. The vegetation type associated with these soils features the common tree Metteniusa tessmanniana (icacinaceae) and the common treelet Sanango racemosum (Gesneriaceae).

The very wet, low (10–15 m canopy) forest on sandstone substrates on the ridges and upper slopes is the most distinctive vegetation type in the area, and its structure and composition are extremely variable from place to place. the tree roots in these forests form a thick, spongy mat that is up to 30 cm thick, suspended up to 1 m above the soil surface, and littered with old leaves and mosses. plant density and diversity are very high in this habitat, and orchids, bromeliads, ferns, aroids, and bryophytes are abundant. these forests on sandstone harbor some species that are restricted to this habitat in the Kampankis range but shared with similar habitats in the Cordillera del Cóndor and other outlying sandstone mountain ranges in ecuador and peru. Some of the new species found in this habitat may be endemic to the Kampankis mountains (see below). In contrast to the Cordillera del Cóndor, forests on sandstone in Kampankis contain few species and genera known from the sandstone tepuis of the Guiana shield. Forests on the high ridges at Kampankis do contain strictly Andean taxa like Podocarpus (podocarpaceae) and the palms Ceroxylon and Dictyocaryum, and these grow at lower elevations than is usual in the Andes. We were only able to survey small portions of the high-elevation vegetation of the Kampankis mountains at three sites, which makes further inventories a high priority. A more comprehensive study of the Kampankis vegetation and flora above 1,200 m elevation will likely reveal more undescribed and locally endemic plant species.

The botanical team estimates a regional vascular plant flora of ~3,500 species, of which we were able to record 1,100 during the inventory. Botanists collected and photographed 1,000 specimens and identified many other species in the field. the most distinctive flora grew at the highest elevations, in low forests on sandstone substrate, and most of the new records for peru and new species were discovered in that habitat.

We recorded 8 plant species that are new for peru and an additional 11 that appear to be new to science. The latter include trees and shrubs in the genera Gyranthera (malvaceae), Lissocarpa (ebenaceae), Lozania (Lacistemataceae), Vochysia (Vochysiaceae), and Kutchubaea, Palicourea, Psychotria, Rudgea, and Schizocalyx (all rubiaceae), as well as a tree that we could not identify to family, and two apparently undescribed herbaceous species in the genera Epidendrum (Orchidaceae) and Salpinga (Melastomataceae). We noted modest populations of useful plants, including the palms Euterpe catinga, Pholidostachys synanthera, and Phytelephas macrocarpa, and valuable timber species like tropical cedar (Cedrela odorata; Meliaceae), Cedrelinga cateniformis (Fabaceae), Simarouba amara (Simaroubaceae), and various species of Ocotea (Lauraceae).

We recorded 60 fish species in the Kampankis mountains between 194 and 487 m elevation. When lower elevation aquatic habitats along the santiago and morona rivers are included, we estimate that the study region contains 300—350 species, at least 30% of peru's continental ichthyofauna. the fish communities of Kampankis appear to be more diverse than those in many similar mountain ranges, including those in the Cordillera del Cóndor, with which they share many taxa.

The most common taxa in these mountain streams include various species adapted to rapids in the genera Chaetostoma, Astroblepus, Hemibrycon, Creagrutus, Parodon, and Bujurquina. We recorded six species that are potentially new to science and that may be restricted to the Kampankis range. These include species in the genera Lebiasina, Creagrutus, Astroblepus and Chaetostoma.

Apart from relatively large populations of Prochilodus nigricans on the eastern and western slopes of the Kampankis range, we did not find any species that are important for commercial or subsistence fishing. the Kampankis ichthyofauna depends to a large degree on riparian forests, which provide it with both food and shelter. Although the aquatic systems we visited were well-preserved, a loss of vegetation cover or the excessive use of natural fish toxins like the plant barbasco (Lonchocarpus utilis) could lead to the loss of potentially endemic species.

Amphibians and reptiles
Herpetologists recorded 108 species during the inventory—60 amphibians and 48 reptiles—and estimate a regional herpetofauna of 90 amphibian and 90 reptile species. Of the species we recorded, 12 amphibian and one reptile species have distributions that are restricted to the Amazonian forests of northern Peru and southern Ecuador. Likewise, four species (Dendropsophus aperomeus, Osteocephalus leoniae, Pristimantis academicus, and P. rhodostichus) are only known to occur in central and northern Peru. The most important finds during the inventory were seven apparently undescribed amphibian species. Three of these are rain frogs in the genus Pristimantis, a genus that is especially diverse on the slopes of the Andes. Two undescribed species in the genus Hyloscirtus are morphologically similar and sympatric but occupied different habitats.

We also made the first Peruvian collections of the glass frog Chimerella mariaelenae, the tree frog Osteocephalus verruciger, the iguanid lizard Enyalioides rubrigularis, and the leaf litter lizard Potamites cochranae, which were previously known from ecuador and/or Colombia. Likewise, we found a rare marsupial frog, Gastrotheca longipes, previously known from just two sites in Peru.

The diversity and abundance of species in the higher elevations of the Kampankis range (like E. rubrigularis and various species of poison dart frogs) and of species that live in clear, oxygen-rich streams (like glass frogs and Hyloscirtus frogs) were very high and indicate a healthy herpetofauna. During the inventory we recorded the yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata) and the rain frog Pristimantis rhodostichus, both considered Vulnerable by the iUCN (like C. mariaelenae), as well as the smooth-fronted caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus), considered Near threatened in Peru.

The Kampankis avifauna is a diverse mix of lowland Amazonian and Andean foothill bird communities. through field observations and recordings, the ornithological team registered 350 bird species, of which 56 are typically montane; 7 of these have disjunct geographic ranges. We estimate a regional avifauna of 525 species.

Because so little was known about the birds of Kampankis prior to our visit, the inventory resulted in range extensions for 75 species. Of these, 26 are mostly known from lowland Amazonian forests and 49 are mostly known from premontane Andean forests. Several rare and little-known species recorded during the inventory—like Leucopternis princeps, Wetmorethraupis sterrhopteron, and Entomodestes leucotis — are known from very few sites in peru. The high-elevation habitat 'islands' in Kampankis harbor various bird species that are rare or have restricted distributions or disjunct populations, including Heliodoxa gularis, Campylopterus villaviscensio, Snowornis subalaris, and Grallaria haplonota.

The bird communities we observed during the inventory were in good condition. The intensity of direct human impacts like hunting of large game birds (curassows, tinamous, trumpeters, and guans) was moderate to low, while indirect impacts (e.g., habitat destruction) were few to none. Various indicators of healthy bird communities—including populations of interior forest birds, large parrots, and raptors— were well represented at the sites we visited. The most intact bird communities we saw were those at the pongo Chinim and Quebrada Wee campsites. The high diversity and excellent conservation status of bird communities in the Kampankis range make these mountains an excellent conservation opportunity for rare elements of peru’s avifauna.

Medium-sized and large mammals, and bats
The conservation status of the mammal communities we surveyed in the Kampankis Mountains was very good. Via field surveys and interviews with residents we recorded 57 of the 79 species of medium-sized and large mammals believed to occur in the area. The list includes 11 primates, the largest of which (Ateles belzebuth, Lagothrix lagotricha, and Alouatta juara) were quite tame and appeared unaccustomed to seeing hunters. Tracks of both large felids—jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor)—were present, and the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis) was seen on one occasion. Other key results include several sightings of tapir (Tapirus terrestris), which indicate a healthy population of this large herbivore, and signs of giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) and giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). All three species are considered Vulnerable in Peru and globally.

We captured bats on nine nights and recorded 16 of the 103 species expected for the region. Despite the limited sampling in this group, we recorded rare species like Cormura brevirostris and Choeroniscus minor, which prefer undisturbed forests.

Human communities
The communities in the vicinity of the Kampankis mountains belong to the Wampis (also known as Huambisa or Peruvian Shuar) and Awajún (Aguaruna) ethnic groups in the Santiago and Marañón watersheds, and to the Wampis and Chapra (also known as Shapra or Chápara) in the Morona watershed. The Wampis and Awajún belong to the Jívaro ethnolinguistic family and share many cultural features, including similar languages. The Chapra belong to a different linguistic family (Candoa) but are culturally similar to the Jívaro. The region has a total population of ~20,000.

Strong cultural ties connect indigenous residents with the Kampankis mountains. Up until the 1940s and 1950s many people lived in the mountains themselves, in scattered settlements along streams and rivers, as was the Jívaro custom. Later, often with the encouragement of missionaries, residents migrated to denser nuclear settlements along the larger rivers, which were officially recognized by a 1974 peruvian law as "indigenous communities".

During the rapid inventory we documented a complex system by which local communities manage and protect the region's natural resources. This system is based on ancestral agreements, current cultural practices including small-scale agriculture and subsistence hunting and fishing, and a deep understanding of local biology and ecology. Local management encompasses a wide array of natural resources in the Kampankis Mountains and has its foundation in an indigenous concept of property within a culture of reciprocity and mutual support. Examples include the management of Oilbird colonies and the rotating use of fallow fields and other agricultural resources. Communities are also very effective at preventing access to the forest by outsiders. Local management systems are implemented in the Kampankis range based on the jurisdictions of communities, federations, societies, and watersheds. For example, communities near the Peru-Ecuador border have established special agreements to limit the impacts of Ecuadorean hunters and fishermen. We also noted that the complementary gender roles reflected in various aspects of economic and social life contribute to conflict resolution and diplomacy.

We found that residents' relationships with the Kampankis Mountains are based on a view of the world in which humans, animals, plants, and other elements of the landscape form groups that are linked to each other by shared networks of social relationships (kinship, alliances, competition, etc.). The mountains also represent a link with residents' ancestors, as sites of visionary experiences in search of ajutap/arutam (spirit beings), and a source of spiritual inspiration and knowledge with which to face the future. In this way, the Kampankis Mountains are not only a biodiversity-rich cordillera but also a rich cultural landscape saturated with symbolic meaning for local residents.

Current status
In 2000 the Kampankis Mountains and adjacent lowlands were included in the Santiago-Comaina Reserved Zone (ZRSC). Reserved Zones are a transitory land-use category established by the Peruvian government in places that have a high potential as future protected areas but which lack the information necessary for determining, among other things, the size and type of area to be established. The ZRSC — which overlaps some titled indigenous communities and towns (see map)—encompasses forests that the region's indigenous inhabitants have protected effectively for many years. As a result, indigenous residents are in disagreement with the Reserved Zone and have proposed that it be declared part of Wampis and Awajún territory.

Principal assets for conservation
  1. Effective local management of natural resources by indigenous residents, and a clear vision of preserving the Kampankis Mountains for future generations
  2. Dynamism among local indigenous residents for self-organizing and for defending their natural resources
  3. Strong linguistic, cultural, and family identities

Principal conservation targets
  1. Diverse, rare, and unique biological communities, especially in the high-elevation portions of the Kampankis range
  2. Well-preserved terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the sites visited by the biological team
  3. Places and species of cultural and spiritual importance for local indigenous peoples
  4. Species that are threatened at the national or global level or that have restricted geographic ranges

Principal threats
  1. Divergent visions of the future and of how to protect the Kampankis Mountains, and a mutual lack of trust between the peruvian government and local residents
  2. Strong pressure to implement industrial megaprojects in the region (e.g., large-scale oil and gas development, hydroelectric projects, new highways)
  3. Pollution of the region’s primary rivers and watersheds by mercury and other impacts of mining, in addition to the inadequate handling of solid waste and sewage

Principal recommendations
The present-day and historical presence of the Wampis and Awajún peoples in the region and their management of the landscape have proven solid and effective barriers to the pressures that threaten the Kampankis Mountains, and we observed an exceptionally healthy flora and fauna at the sites we visited. Based on the results of the rapid inventory we offer the following recommendations:
  1. Recognize and provide legal backing for indigenous management of the Kampankis Mountains, in order to assure the long-term health and maintenance of the mountains’ high cultural, biological, and geological values
  2. Capture in writing the existing systems, visions, and practices that indigenous groups use to manage the Kampankis Mountains so that they can be maintained into the future
  3. Exclude oil, gas, and mining development from the region. This applies to both large-scale and artisanal mining, as well as to other megaprojects that threaten large-scale modifications of the landscape
  4. Support the preservation and strengthening of local indigenous cultures
  5. Develop and implement strategies to reduce pollution throughout the Santiago and Morona watersheds

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