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The Caxiuanã TEAM site was established in 2002 at the Ferreira Penna Scientific Station. This station is located within the 33,000 hectare Caxiuanã National Forest.
The station was inaugurated in 1993, with the mission of supporting short-, medium-, and long-term research programs by members of the Brazilian and international scientific communities. The Emílio Goeldi Museum of Pará operates the station, which currently hosts many ongoing research projects, some of which support master’s and doctoral theses, field courses, and seminars.
The Caxiuanã National Forest offers a singular opportunity to implement multidisciplinary analyses of natural resource management strategies. Studies on the structure, composition and dynamics of plants and animal populations over short-, medium- and long-term periods have contributed to better techniques for managing the biodiversity of tropical ecosystems and their use by local communities.
The Caxiuanã National Forest is a protected area with a rich biodiversity and a low demographic density due to its geographic isolation. Surveys have identified areas with dense terra firme forests, flooded forests (várzea and igapó), savanna-like vegetation, secondary vegetation (capoeira) and residual vegetation where orchards existed before. Rivers contain black waters and are very rich in aquatic plants.
The diversity of the Caxiuanã National Forest ecosystems is one of the most interesting qualities of the region.
Terra firme forest is the most common feature and covers the largest extension of the Ferreira Penna Scientific Station (approximately 85 percent). It grows on sandy-clayey, acidic, and oligothophic yellow latosoils of tertiary origin. Terra firme has the highest specific richness because it covers a large extension. The vertical structure of the forest is complete with no substrata and a good visibility. Some palm trees are present and the low stratus is represented by sparse shrubs.
The várzea forest is located in the Caxiuanã Bay. Unlike várzea in the Amazonian estuary, the water here contains low quantities of sediment. The paleovárzea forest has taller vegetation than the vegetation in the várzea forest. Its flora is mixed with elements of terra firme and várzea forest.
Igapó forest is relatively low and its vegetation is less structured than the terra firme forest. It grows in hydromorphic soils of tertiary origin. These soils are acidic and poor in nutrients because of the lack of sediments in the dark waters of rivers in the Caxiuanã basin.
The savanna-like vegetation is dominated by a continuous herbaceous stratus where grasses are predominant. The soil is hydromorphic, clayish and of quaternary origin.
The secondary vegetation, also known as capoeiras, is dispersed along the entire scientific station in small spots up to 5 hectares (occupying around 3 percent of the entire area), where there have been capoeiras from 3, 10, 25 and 40 years.
Areas of abandoned orchards are generally located along the river and stream banks on the Caxiuanã basin. Native plant species include açaí, tucumã and buruti. Other Amazonian species have been introduced, including cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), cacao (Theobroma cacao), bacuri (Platonia insignis) and exotics, such as, mango, lemon and guava.
Researchers have registered 12 sub-families, 32 tribes, 82 genera and 432 species of ants. Some species remain to be registered. In addition, 83 species in 28 genera of fruit-eater butterflies have been identified – all belonging to the family Nymphalidae.
At the scientific station, 370 species of birds, distributed among 59 families, have been registered. In addition, researchers have registered 7 species of primates, including: the silvery marmoset (Mico argentatus), black tamarin (Saguinus niger), feline night monkey (Aotus infulatus), squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), tufted capuchin (Cebus paella), bearded saki (Chiropotes utahickae) and red-handed howler monkey (Alouatta belzebul).
Among the plants, 61 families, 185 genera and 534 species and morphospecies have been identified. The families that presented in greater abundance were: Lecythidaceae, Chrysobalanaceae, Sapotaceae and Burseraceae. Among the species more commonly found were: Licania octandra, Lecythis idatimon, Rinorea guianensis, Tetragastris panamensis, E. Grandiflora, Vouacapua americana, and E. coriaceae.
The scientific station is located in the municipality of Melgaço, 350 km west of Belém, the capital city of the state of Pará.
The trip to the scientific station has to be made in two stages. The first stage can be made by flying or traveling by commercial ship (12 hours) from Belém to the interior city of Breves along the south of the island of Marajó. For the second stage, one boards a motor launch in Breves run by the Goeldi Museum. The launch continues for 9 hours through the Melgaço Bay, located in the Rio Anapú basin, passes the villages of Melgaço and Portel, and up to Caxiuanã Bay. This last leg of the journey can also be made by speed boat, reducing the time of the journey to only 4 hours.