Yasuni

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Current Site Managers: Santiago Espinosa, Hugo Romero

Introduction: 

The Yasuni TEAM site is located near the zero latitude in the Amazonian province of Orellana in Eastern Ecuador, at the Yasuni Research Station (YRS) and in the surrounding Yasuni National Park (YNP) and Biosphere Reserve.

The YRS was created and is administered by the School of Biology of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) after a concession (comodate) by the Ecuadorian State in 1994. The YRS is situated in the northern “arm” of the YNP, at 47 Km from the start of the Maxus road, at the right bank of the Tiputini River, at a relatively short distance from the confluence with the Tivacuno River.

The YNP consists of 9.820-km² and was created in 1979. It is adjacent to the 6.800-km² Waorani Ethnic Reserve, created in 1990. Together, the 1.6 million hectares represent the largest protected area of mature forest in the Amazon region of Ecuador.

Within the YNP, there are extensive oil reserves that are ceded for prospecting and exploitation. Several oil roads enter the park from the north, and there are a few permanent oil camps. Waorani indians also inhabit small settlements in the park, and hunt heavily on bush meat. North of the park and the Napo River are more extensive settlements of Quichua Indians, who clear forest for agriculture; some Quichua have been colonizing oil roads that gets into the park.

Yasuni joined the TEAM Network in 2010.

The YRS supports scientific research in all areas of knowledge in the Amazonian forests of Ecuador. The YRS is founded on the belief that science and technology are essential to the healthy development of a nation.

The oldest and longest-term research project at the Yasuni Research Station is the Forest Dynamics Plot (FDP) directed by Dr. Renato Valencia at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. This project is associated to the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS-SIGEO), a global network of forest research plots committed to the study of forest function and diversity, coordinated at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

The station has hosted a large number of mid- and long-term projects, including a study of the effects of deforestation on canopy herpetofauna (Shawn McCracken, Texas State University), speciation and evolution of mate choice in tropical frogs (Kim Hoke, Colorado State University), evolution and behavioral ecology of monkeys (Anthony Di Fiore, New York University), behavior, ecology and hunting effects on monkeys (Sarah Papworth, Imperial College of London), seedling systematics, dispersaland viability (Nancy Garwood, Southern Illinois University) , the effects of ClNa on ant diversity and community structure (Emily Clay, Oklahoma State University).

Site Description: 

Facilities include comfortable single and shared air-conditioned rooms, electricity 24 hours a day, wireless internet, laboratories and classrooms, a field herbarium with over 10.000 reference specimens, laundry, an industrial kitchen with full-time cooks, a complete fleet of pick-up trucks, a van for 16 passengers and a 3.5 ton transport truck. On average, the station hosts two or three groups of scientists per month, and between 10 to 30 people per week.

Contact information for the site:

www.yasuni.ec

Estación Científica Yasuní Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas PONTIFICIA UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA DEL ECUADOR Av. 12 de Octubre 1076 y Roca Apartado postal 17-01–2184 Quito Ecuador Phone: (593+2) 2991679 (Quito) Phone: (593+2) 29917747 (Yasuní) Fax: (593+2) 2991367 Email: yasuni@puce.edu.ec

Photography donated by Marie-Anne Bertin and Sylvain Lefebvre, www.exode-tropical.com, France

Ecology: 

Yasuni is among the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Yasuni is the conjunction of the Andes and the Amazon basin giving the terrain a highly irregular topography. The park is nearly level at about 200 m above sea level, but crossed by numerous ridges rising 25–40 m above the intervening forest streams. At wider intervals, large rivers flow east to meet the Napo and the Amazon. Except for swampy areas and floodplains of the larger rivers, the vegetation is a visually homogeneous tall, evergreen, terra firme forest, lacking large disturbances or clearings. The canopy is 10–25 m high punctuated with emergents to 40 and rarely 50 m tall as well as with small gaps created by fallen trees. These and other factors appear to be responsible for very high levels of biological diversity, comparable only to a handful of other places around the planet.

Yasuni is part of the “Core Amazon”, an area of year-long high rainfall and humidity. Annual rainfall averages between 3080 and 3210 mm. There is clear seasonality, although no months have <100 mm rainfall. The wettest months are April-May and October-November. Relative humidity averages 80-94% throughout the year.

The forest is evergreen lowland wet forest, and can be classified as part of the Napo Moist Forest ecoregion and the Upper Amazon Piedmont freshwater ecoregion. In the FDP, the canopy is mostly 15-30 m tall, with emergent trees reaching 40-50 m.

Species: 

The forest is extremely diverse: In 1 ha of the Yasuni FDP there are as many as 644 tree species. The total number of plant species ranges between 2.704 to 4.000.

At a regional scale, the fauna at Yasuni is essentially intact, including large species of birds and mammals such as the Harpy eagle, White-lipped peccary, Jaguar and Tapir. However, the bulk of mammalian species belongs to small rodents and bats. This last group has been suggested to represent over 100 species, a world record. Known species of vertebrates include near 150 amphibians, 121 reptiles, 596 birds, 204 mammals, and up to 499 fish. Some of these species are listed as threatened.

View the mammals and birds species list for this TEAM site.
Accessibility: 

The Yasuni Research Station can be reached in two different ways:

Access A. (1) Aerial route, Quito – Coca; (2) Terrestrial route, Coca Airport – Hotel La Misión; (3) Fluvial route, Hotel La Misión – Pompeya Sur; (4) Terrestrial route, Pompeya Sur – Yasuni Station. This option is the fastest and more expensive.

Access B. (1) Aerial route, Quito – Coca; (2) Terrestrial route, Coca – Pompeya Norte; (3) Fluvial route, Pompeya Norte – Pompeya Sur; (4) Terrestrial route Pompeya Sur – Yasuni Station.

Location

Ecuador
Latitude: -0.671306
Longitude: -76.4005