Rapid Biological Inventories: Results from the Field: Ecuador 03

Ecuador: Serranías Cofán-Bermejo, Sinangoe

Report at a glance | Downloadable files | Acknowledgements


Editors: Nigel Pitman, Debra K. Moskovits, William S. Alverson, and Randal Borman A.

Design: Costello Communications, Chicago

Translations: Angela Padilla and Tyana Wachter (Spanish); Randal Borman A., Roberto Aguinda, Michael L. Cepek, Felipe Borman, Hugo Lucitante, and Toribio Aguinda (Cofán)

Web design and development: Allyson Meyer, Sergio Rabiela, Ryan Peters, and Asha Patel

Funding: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Website funding: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Full Publication Citation >>

Our rapid exploration of the rugged, wet slopes of the Serranías Cofán would not have been possible without the invaluable help of our Cofán guides and counterparts. The Cofán took charge of field logistics throughout the inventory, cutting trails to give the team access a wide range of habitat types, carrying loads, setting up camp, cooking, and keeping the expedition on schedule under difficult field conditions. For their tireless— often super-human— assistance we sincerely thank Alfonso Yiyoguaje, Lauriano Quenama, Nivaldo Yiyoguaje, Eliberto Alvarado, Ciro Alvarado, Sebastián Descanse, Jorge Criollo, José Omenda, Angel Omenda, Abrám Omenda, Aurelio Omenda, Fabian Omenda, Daniel Omenda, Eliseo Alvarado, José Descanse, Marceliana Alvarado Marisol Alvarado, Beatriz Descanse, Alicia Descanse, Bacilio Descanse, Jesus Queta, Pablo Queta, and Tiberio Queta, along with the other residents of the communities of Alto Bermejo, Sinangoe, and Chandia Na’e, who warmly welcomed us to their forests.

Roberto Aguinda worked with the Bermejo and Sinangoe communities for months before our arrival, to secure smooth operations and set up the field stations (Estación Bermejo and Estación Sinangoe). During the inventory, Roberto’s fluency in Cofán and botanical training resulted in an invaluable ethnobotanical collaboration with Bacilio Descanse, José Omenda, and others. Roberto’s dedication, patience, and good humor will continue to be central to the success of the Cofán conservation efforts in the Andean foothills.

While Roberto was laying the groundwork in the field, Freddy Espinosa was securing permits in Quito, purchasing equipment, and keeping the lines of communication open between the Serranías Cofán and Lago Agrio, Quito, and Chicago. Freddy’s enthusiasm and perseverance were key during the complex coordination before, during, and after the trip. His unflagging energy and the multiple miles he logged in drives between Quito and Lago Agrio were instrumental to the success of the expedition and of follow-up meetings in Lago Agrio and Quito. Freddy’s wife, Maria Luisa Lopez, kept track of all accountings and activities, and facilitated the pre- and post-expedition meetings in Quito and Lago Agrio. Maria Luisa and Freddy’s energy and deep interest in the project continue to be key in resolving big and small roadblocks along the way.

During the expedition, it was Amelia Yiyoguaje, with her tremendous efficiency and poise, who quietly coordinated our complicated logistics. Amelia made sure that all the campsites ran smoothly, were stocked with adequate supplies, and had the best in food. And Amelia managed to include the extra treats that are so appreciated under rough conditions in the field. Amelia’s remarkable skills as a naturalist led to several important sightings for the herpetological, mammal, and bird inventories.

Despite their young age, Federico and Joshua Borman hiked all trails in the Bermejo region, helping to set up camp and even collecting an undescribed species of lizard. Felipe Borman helped with logistics, translatios, observations, and cooking in the Bermejo camps.

In the Ministerio del Ambiente in Quito, we sincerely thank Laura Altamirano, for helping with follow-up to the recommendations; Pati Galeano, for arranging the collecting permits; Danilo Silva, for encouraging the Serranías Cofan effort in the first place; and Hans Thiel, Roberto Ulloa, and Domingo Paredes, for continued discussions to implement the next steps for conservation.

For their help in identifying plant specimens, we thank José Manuel Manzanares (bromeliads), Lorena Endara and Calaway Dodson (orchids), Jon Shaw (Sphagnum), Peter Jørgensen (Passifloraceae), Alejandra Jaramillo (Piper), Charlotte Taylor (Rubiaceae), Larry Skog (Gesneriaceae), Grady Webster (Euphorbiaceae), Lucia Lohmann (Bignoniaceae), and M. Lucia Kawasaki (Myrtaceae). David Neill and Rogelio Rojas were extremely helpful in the National Herbarium of Ecuador. Lou Jost reviewed sections of the manuscript, and Carlos Cerón was exceptionally generous in sharing all he knows about plants of the Sinangoe and Bermejo regions.

For help with bird records, we thank Douglas Stotz, who shared his notes from 1998 (Bermejo) and reviewed the entire list, and Mark B. Robbins, who shared his observations from 1993 (Bermejo oil fields).

Patricio Fuentes and Ximena Aguirre of the Fundación La Bonita-Sucumbíos gave us generous access to all of their information about the area surrounding La Bonita and La Sofia (see Appendix 6). We thank them for hours of invaluable discussions that led to some of our final recommendations.

Helga Karsten and Jennifer Eagleton helped organize and scan all slides. Helga, and Jessica Smith of Futurity, Inc., prepared maps from the digital satellite image data. Mary Giblin and Heike Betz helped scan all plant images. Rodrigo Sierra made available the satellite images in Figure 7 and Elsevier Science gave us permission to republish these images. Heinz Plenge gave us access to his spectacled bear slides, along with permission to use the photograph in Figure 1. Roy and Robin Toft were helpful with access to their bear photos (see cover credits). Jerry Coe accompanied the team to Ccuccono and contributed many excellent photographs. John Terborgh and the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University provided office space during the writing of the report.

Tyana Wachter, as always, was instrumental in overseas and in-country coordination. Tyana’s capacity to facilitate complicated operations with charm and good humor never ceases to amaze us. Daniel Brinkmeier lent his magic in producing quick visuals for the presentations and developing community outreach materials from our results. We sincerely thank Jennifer M. Shopland for her invaluable input in editing part of the report, Angela Padilla for quick translations into Spanish, and Roberto Aguinda, Mike Cepek, Felipe Borman, Hugo Lucitante, and Toribio Aguinda for lightningfast work with the Cofán translations, which Mike spearheaded. We thank Nora Oleas, Douglas F. Stotz, and Susan Donoghue for their thorough reading of and comments on the entire manuscript. Jim Costello again performed miracles with our additional design requests. And Sophie Twichell, despite being on official leave during the expedition, managed to lend tremendous help.

We are deeply grateful to John W. McCarter, Jr., and Avecita Chicchón for their strong interest and support. Funding for this rapid inventory came from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and from The Field Museum.

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