New Species Found in Trésor
Research in 2010 in Trésor has uncovered many new species in our reserve, in French Guiana, and probably a few never before known to science.
In Trésor News 32 (October 2010) Olivier Tostain, chairman of the Trésor Association, reported on the initial results of the botanical investigation, which took place in the swamp forest along the border river Orapu and on two isolated hills in the savannah region.
1-A part of the savannah, with the isolated hills on the upper
right, in the shadow of a cloud.
3-Astrocaryum rodreguiseii, a rare palm.
8-A new species of the genus Polygala.
The research was directed by Renske Ek and carried out, between June and December 2010, by Olivier Tostain, our forest rangers Benoît (Ben) Villette and Jef Szpigel, and Guillaume Léotard, Tanguy Deville and Vincent Pelletier.
The investigation turned up more than just new plant species. As reported in Trésor News 33 (April 2011) Kévin Pineau, ornithologist and treasurer of the Trésor Association, announced the discovery of a unique bird species in the savannah region, the black manakin. Not only had this species never before been spotted in our reserve, it had never been seen in all of French Guiana!
This summer Renske Ek completed the richly illustrated final report on this research, titled, "La forêt marécageuse et les collins isolées de la Réserve Trésor, Guyana française" [The swamp forest and isolated hills of the Trésor Reserve, French Guiana] (Ek et al. 2011).
Trésor's "logo plant"
This report contains a wealth of information on the findings and comes with a cd full of magnificent photographs provided by Olivier Tostain.
As Renske Ek states in her report, the 2010 investigation of the swamp forest of the Orapu and the isolated hills (see photo 1) marks the final phase of a program - set out in our management plan - to subject all the vegetation types in the reserve to an initial investigation.
In her introduction Ek reports that the swamp forest accounts for 30% of the total surface area of the reserve (2464 hectares, not counting the later expansions), and the isolated hills only 1.5%. Earlier research (Ek et al. 2000) showed that, because of the forest-type of these hills, certain plant species are found there and nowhere else in the reserve.
The swamp forest was largely unknown terrain until this last investigation, although we knew it formed the biotope for Trésor Foundation's "logo plant",
(see photo 2).
The fieldworkers, led by Olivier Tostain, visited the sites five times, in June, August, September and December. This enabled them to get a complete picture of the plant types occurring there. During that time they gathered 363 plant collections, 111 of which belonged to the Orchidaceae family!
One hundred and one new species have been added to the list of plant species found in Trésor, which now numbers 1223.
Fig. 1 - Each successive expedition in Trésor has found new plants. This shall continue until no new plants can be charted. The green stripes record the numbers after verification.
Fifty-five of these are definitely rare and/or protected or endemic, i.e. confined to a relatively small, local area.
Not all of the collected material could be identified. We therefore have reason to expect that new species will soon be added to Trésor's species list. Every research expedition, in fact, has uncovered many new species in our reserve. We may conclude from this that not only is Trésor especially rich in species, but more are certain to be found. The list is far from complete (see figure 1).
On the isolated hills the team gathered a total of 98 plant collections, 50 of which belonged to the Orchidaceae family.
Among the special species found there is the rare palm, Astrocaryum rodreguiseii (see photo 3), as well as what was initially an unidentified member of the Violaceae family, of the genus Paypayrola, which had nearly white flowers (see photo 4). After the research report was published, two specialists identified it as the Paypayrola confertiflora, which is by no means a general species although it was previously found in the Guianas.
In addition, two new orchid species were found: the rare Heterotaxis villosa (see photo 5) and the equally fine Pleurothallis aristata (see photo 6). Finally, the presence of a Bromelia (Bromelia agavifolia) has been recorded; this species is found only in a confined area in French Guiana (see photo 7).
In the swamp forest along the Orapu River the research team made other remarkable finds, at least one of which - a species of the genus Polygala (Milkwort) - is very likely new to science (see photo 8).
Further, a number of species have been determined to be new not only for Trésor but very probably for French Guiana as well; and in one case, probably new for all three of the Guianas.
The latter is a member of the Rubiaceae family (the Coffee family), namely the Malanea martiana (see photo 9).
Three species have been found in the swamp forest which appear to be new for French Guiana. These are: a member of the Apocynaceaea family, Himatanthus phagedeanicus (photo 10) and two orchids, Encyclia guianensis (photo 11) and Epidendrum linearidiforme (photo 12).
Photo 13 shows a saprophyte (i.e. a chlorophyll-less plant which uses fungi to nourish itself), namely the Voyria aurantiaca, a member of the Gentianaceae family. This is probably the first time this species has been photographed in our reserve.
Reviewing the fruits of the investigation, we can certainly say that they add greatly to our knowledge of Trésor's botanical riches. Renske Ek and Olivier Tostain's team have done excellent work.
Ek, R.C., B.G. Bordenave, R. Sluiter & E.C. van der Knaap. 2000. The floristic composition and vegetation structure of the Trésor Reserve, French Guiana/ Inventaire de la composition floristique et de la stucture de la végétation de la Réserve Trésor, Guyane française. Internal report, Utrecht University.
Ek, R.C., O. Tostain, G. Léotard, V. Pelletier, T. Deville, B. Villette & J-F Szpigel. 2011. La forêt marécageuse et les collines isolées de la Réserve Trésor, Guyane française/ The swamp forest and isolated hills of the Trésor reserve, French Guiana. Internal report, Utrecht University.
Photos: Olivier Tostain et Vincent Pelletier
Trésor harbours a remarkable profusion of fish
Benoît Villette, Hélène Guillen
Second inventory of fish in the Trésor reserve, September 2011
In December 2009 the first ichtyological (fish) inventory has been done in the territory of the Trésor nature reserve, in which the presence of 29 species had been established (TN30).
Considering other inventories in similar areas this list seemed quite inexhaustive to us and especially so because at the time it had been impossible to conduct the research under optimal conditions due to severe downpours, because of which few data could be gathered. For this reason the team of the reserve wanted to do the research again to complete the list of fish.
Over seven days a team of the research office BIOTOPE led by Frédéric Melki, ichtyologist, specialised in fish from the Guianas, conducted their research together with the foresters.
The locations focused on during this second inventory had not or hardly been researched in 2009:
A total of 52 species have been identified during the research at these three locations. With the naked eye from above, under water with diving goggles, to quickly get an impression of the populations. Then by catches with hand nets, fykes, nets or fishing rods. In French Guiana there are species which morphologically are closely related and only a precise investigation of the species caught makes it possible to distinguish them from each other.
- The lower course of two creeks which discharge into the Orapu (Crique Favard and Crique Savane). This concerns deep water with lots of sediment and a very muddy bottom, strongly influenced by the tidal movements.
- The Crique Roche, a forest creek which is a very special habitat because of a number of large and small waterfalls and large rock basins. Because of the presence on the surface of laterite rock it is a rarely found biotope on the Montagne de Kaw.
- The Crique Favard at the crossing with the old forest trail to the Placer Trésor, so way upstream from the area researched in 2009. In this area many small streams join creeks and form a wider bed.
It is important to do research during the day as well as at night. Nocturnal species, especially catfishes and electric eels, do not show themselves during the day. Thus for a complete inventory nocturnal observations are essential.
Loricaridae (Ancistrus cf. leucostictus) are odd fish which often occur in the fast flowing parts of creeks and rivers.
Against the current on the Orapu en route to the estuaries of the creeks of the reserve.
Using diving goggles to look under water enables quick identification of species which are hard to catch.
Almost all fish caught were identified and released again. Only a few have been kept to be able to identify their species.
Combined with the data from December 2009 the total number of species we now have come across amounts to 54 which is a very interesting number considering the limited width of the waterways and the relatively restricted size of the basin of the creeks in Trésor.
It is remarkable that during the inventory a large shrimp species, Macrobrachium carcinus, has often been found in the Crique Roche and just there. This has been the first time this species, known from the Antilles and several locations in South-America (between Mexico and Brasil), has been found in French Guiana. This discovery indicates how special the Crique Roche is compared to other waterways and also shows the quality of the water in this area to be excellent.
Helogenes marmoratus, a small nocturnal Catfish.
The Wolf Fish (Hoplias malabaricus) is one of the most important predator fish of the creeks of the reserve. This one has been caught in a fyke and has been released again after indentification.
Krobia aff. guianensis, a Cichlid, endemic to French Guiana.
Photographs: RNR Trésor
Educational summer activities in Trésor
Just like last year the Trésor Association asked experts in a specific biological subject to guide visitors through the reserve to show them different aspects of the reserve than those normally focussed on by the foresters. The programme consisted of the following five themes in July and August 2011: Birds, Trees and the quality of wood, Orientation in the forest, Ferns and Small Animals.
Thomas Luglia points his binoculars at a bird.
Olivier Bruneaux about wood.
Benoît Jambu: what to take with you in the rucksack.
Michel Boudry shows the clusters of spores of a fern.
Marguerite Delaval is telling about bats.
The first guided tour was aimed at getting to know more about birds. Thomas Luglia, an active volunteer of GEPOG (Groupement d'étude et de protection des oiseaux de Guyane) was the first with a tour in three parts, on Saturday, 23 July.
At 7 a.m. the visitors were welcomed and they could start observing birds with a binocular from a fixed observation point on the terrace of the entrance. From this point toucans, icterids, tanagers, buzzards etc were showing off.
After a well-deserved cup of coffee with a biscuit for breakfast, a brief power point presentation was shown to explain the fluctuations in the population of the bird species occurring in the rainforest. After that there was a concise presentation of all the special activities being undertaken in this field in the reserve, particularly through bird ringing research. During the following walk along the botanical trail the participants could see a few species of birds in the undergrowth of the forest.
Trees and the quality of wood
On Wednesday, 27 July Olivier Brunaux, engineer at the Forestry Commission, conducted a thematic tour about trees and the quality of the wood of different kinds of trees that are, among others, suitable for the wood industry. The participants were shown how you can learn something about the quality of the wood of each species from the features such as the bark, the fruit or the leaves. Unfortunately, the walk had to be broken off because of a heavy downpour that forced all of us to seek refuge in the entrance building.
Orientation in the forest
On Saturday, 6 August Benoît Jambu, a guide qualified in long distance walks together with the two foresters, gave a presentation about orientation in the forest or how to use your compass or GPS, and what to pack in your rucksack before you start a short trip through the dense forest. Especially for this occasion they had thought up a game in which each group had to find certain trees or figures of animals along the trail, which had been put there beforehand. Each of the three groups succeeded in finding their treasure, sometimes with the help of the guides when the GPS was not exact enough. Because this is such a nice game, we are going to develop it further so we can also use it for tours with families with children.
For the second year consecutive year Michel Boudry, an expert on ferns (Pteridophyta), introduced the visitors to the different kinds of ferns along the botanical trail on Saturday, 13 August. He dealt with the different manifestations of this group of spore plants: small kinds of tree ferns, ground dwelling ferns and epiphytes. A Bolbitis semipinnatifida, a big fern from the undergrowth, had a beautiful fertile leaf with a cluster of spores, a phenomenon which is not always seen with each leaf of this species. This tour is definitely the most specialized one offered to an audience that usually doesn't have the opportunity to go deeply into such themes.
During the last tour on Friday, 19 August, the focus was on the smaller animals that can be found in our reserve. We organised a night field trip in two parts: the fist part was presented by Marguerite Delaval, an expert in bats and keeper of nature reserve Nouragues. The second part was by Christian Marty, a versatile authority on nature who is especially interested in reptiles and in research into the small animals in French Guiana, especially those species that can be more or less dangerous.
First Marguerite showed the different kinds of bats on large photos. Next she demonstrated how a bat detector works. This device turns ultrasonic vibrations into a frequency that is audible for the human ear. The frequency patterns of the recorded sounds are then made visible with a computer programme. This makes it possible to identify the species based on the sounds they produced. This research is still in its infancy in French Guiana. Up till now more than a hundred species have been counted but it is still not known which specific sound each species produces.
After that Christian took over and the participants were invited to look for tarantulas, scorpions, whip spiders, centipedes, amphibians, lizards and snakes along the botanical trail, which were frequently photographed.
This bears repeating
These tours were a great success and everybody was enthusiastic about the number of discoveries. The local experts donated their time and we heartily thank them for their voluntary effort for life in the reserve.
Messages from the rainforest
Benoît Villette, Hélène Guillen
Information leaflet Trésor
The Regional Nature reserve (RNR) Trésor now has a leaflet to inform the public in French-Guyana of their existence. WWF-French-Guyana has granted us a financial contribution as part of their support of the protected areas in the three Guyanas. The leaflet is a three-way folded A4 with many pictures. In this, the public can read important information about the reserve, such as how to get there, the botanical trail and the environmental education projects in the reserve. Kévin Pineau, formerly forester and now treasurer of the Association has led this project. Design and execution has been done by Guillaume Feuillet van Kayenstore.
A new car and a boat
Our Peugeot Partner had to be replaced after years of loyal service. This was made possible by multiple gifts: the Regional Council of French-Guyana which has substantially supported us this year as well as the Trésor Foundation which has come to our aid again, like they tend to do with the slightest difficulties. It is a Peugeot Partner new generation, it is sandy-coloured and it already bears the reserve logo.
Not long ago we have also purchased a small boat to be able to execute our forester tasks on the south- and westside of the reserve on the river the Orapu as required in the management plan. In the past we always borrowed a boat from a third party as a result of which we had to plan our journey a long time in advance. Now the team of the reserve is provided with a Pelican canoe, with room for three persons, on which a four-stroke Suzuki engine of 5 h.p.can be hung.
Carbon stocks in the rainforest
Ariane Laporte-Bisquet and Alexandra Mitsiou,
The objective of the Trésor Foundation is to conserve the rainforests in South America, through concrete projects such as the protection of the Trésor Nature Reserve in the Kaw Mountains, French Guiana. In particular, they have been supporting various scientific research projects investigating biodiversity and carbon stocks over the past year. Within the context of our Master studies at Utrecht University, we had the great opportunity to carry out a research project with the Trésor Nature Reserve in French Guiana.
Master students of the Bêta (Biology) faculty Utrecht University.
We are two international Master students: Alexandra Mitsiou from Greece is studying the Master in Ecology and Natural Resource Management and Ariane Laporte-Bisquit from France is studying the Master in Sustainable Development. This research project was the second step of the pioneer project initiated by two Master students from Utrecht University, Anna Duden and Ineke Roeling. rapport. (See TN33)
The objective of the Trésor Foundation is to conserve the rainforests in South America, through concrete projects such as the protection of the Trésor Nature Reserve in the Kaw Mountains, French Guiana. In particular, they have been supporting various scientific research projects investigating biodiversity and carbon stocks over the past year. Within the context of our Master studies at Utrecht University, we had the great opportunity to carry out a research project with the Trésor Nature Reserve in French Guiana. We are two international Master students: Alexandra Mitsiou from Greece is studying the Master in Ecology and Natural Resource Management and Ariane Laporte-Bisquit from France is studying the Master in Sustainable Development. This research project was the second step of the pioneer project initiated by two Master students from Utrecht University, Anna Duden and Ineke Roeling. The aim of our research project was to study the regional spatial variations and the effect of logging on the above-ground biomass and carbon stocks in French Guiana. The focus of our research is highly linked to the current concern of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The concept of REDD is to provide financial incentives to help developing countries to conserve their forests rather than exploit them. In order for the REDD mechanism to be effective, it is first necessary to accurately estimate the carbon stock in above-ground biomass retained in the rainforests. Therefore, our research project has for objective to develop our current understanding on two factors influencing the above-ground biomass in French Guiana: regional variation and logging effect.
Ariane Laporte Bisquit (on the left) and Alexandra Mitsiou (on the
right) measuring the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) of a tree in
Trésor Reserve. Photo taken by Benoit Villette.
A part of the field work team: students and botanists from CIRAD
in front of the Trésor Reserve "carbet". From left to the right:
Ariane Laport-Bisquit, Pascal Petronelli, Petrus Naisso,
Alexandra Mitsiou. Photo taken by Benoit Villette.
For this research project, we carried out field work in the Kaw Mountains during a period of four months (February to May 2011). We worked in collaboration with several organisations and research centres based in French Guiana: Trésor Nature Reserve, National Forestry Office (ONF), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Research Centre on the Ecology of the Forests of French Guiana (EcoFoG) and WWF French Guiana. Upon our arrival in February with our supervisor Vijko Lukkien, an MoU was signed with all these different organizations in order to make official this multi-cooperation agreement. We are extremely grateful to all the help and advice we received from these organisations throughout our entire research project. We were very impressed by their commitment to our project and their willingness to help us as well as share their expert knowledge, data and equipment.
For the data collection, we used the modified Gentry-plot method which was strongly recommended by CIRAD and EcoFoG for investigating carbon stocks. Measurements of Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) and height were taken from around 3.000 trees in total at three different forest locations: Trésor Reserve, ONF primary forest and ONF logged forest. These measurements were used for the calculation of the above ground biomass and carbon stock values in each forest site.
The main outcome of our study can be summarised in figures 1 and 2. On the whole, greater above ground biomass and consequently carbon content was found in Trésor Reserve than in the ONF primary forest underlining once again the priority for the Trésor Reserve forest conservation (Figure 1).
The main contributors to the total carbon content are the big trees of Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) bigger or equal to 10 cm. Moreover, the logging activity was shown to influence carbon stock values as well as forest structure (Figure 1 & 2). The main driver to this result was shown to be the removal of big trees from the forest due to logging activity (Figure 2). Lastly, the regional variation study in French Guiana showed that even though the above ground biomass values within a particular region vary, the biomass values among different forest sites do not vary significantly.
Figure 1: Mean Above Ground Biomass in Trésor Reserve, ONF primary forest and ONF logged forest.
DAGB: Dead Above Ground Biomass; Lianas: biomass of lianas; DBH (2.5-10): Above Ground Biomass of small trees with DBH 2.5-10cm;
DBH>10: Above Ground Biomass of big trees with DBH>10 cm. Data from: Duden & Roeling, 2010; Laporte-Bisquit & Mitsiou, 2011.
During our field work on the Kaw Mountains, we stayed at the "carbet" of the Trésor Nature Reserve with the two forest guards Jeff Szpigel and Benoit Villette. Jeff and Ben participated in our data collection and helped us with all the practical issues related to our research projects. Not only did they contribute a lot to our research project but they also shared their passion for nature and wildlife throughout our stay in French Guiana. Working in the tropical forest was a thrilling experience apart from the difficulties such as working soaked under the tropical rain. We had the opportunity to encounter snakes and monkeys during our work in the field and experience how it is like to work in the tropical forest surrounded by deadly snakes and spiders but also by stunning frogs and impressively huge trees. The life in the "carbet" of the Trésor Nature Reserve was both an adventure and enjoyable experience. We will never forget the afternoons with "ti-punch" after field work at the "carbet' seeing parrots and toucans flying above our heads and the night walks searching for frogs and snakes with Ben and Jeff under the screams of howler monkeys. We were lucky enough to encounter many animal species in the wild such as various beautiful frogs, caimans, small monkeys such as saimiri and tamarin, the famous leather turtle, some of which were rare to see such as the anaconda and the boa constructor. Looking back on the life and field work in French Guiana we can say that it was undoubtedly a thrilling experience and true adventure. We both keep great memories of this incredible 4 month experience in French Guiana.
Figure 2: Effects of logging on forest structure. Data from: Duden & Roeling, 2010; Laporte-Bisquit & Mitsiou, 2011.
To conclude, we would like to take the opportunity to thank a few people who contributed to the success of our project. First of all, we would like to thank the people from Trésor Nature Reserve and in particular Helene Guillen for her help with practical matters and her hospitality and the two forest guards Ben and Jeff for all the enjoyable time we spend with them as well as for their indispensable help and knowledge sharing. The people from CIRAD, Christopher Baraloto and Lilian Blanc as well as Pascal Petronelli and Petrus Naisso for their substantial help with our research project. In addition, Stephan Guitet and Bernard Perrin from ONF for the data sharing and support in our research. Lastly, we would like to thank the Dutch funding organisations (Van Eeden fonds, K.F.Hein, Alberta Menega and Miquel fonds) for the vital financial support without which this research project could not have been feasible. Moreover, we own a big thank you to both our supervisors Pita Verweij and Vijko Lukkien for their constant supervision and help throughout the project.
©2011 Fondation Trésor