The Amazon Research Center

Bringing Science to Life

The Amazon Research Center (ARC) was launched in 2007, as a long-term conservation initiative undertaken in consultation with government offices in Iquitos, Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanical Garden, and the Tahuayo River communities Comite de Gestion.

The ARC is within a national conservation reserve, the Area de Conservacion Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu Tahuayo (ACRCTT). It is a 1 million acre (445,000 ha) uninhabited reserve. A Rapid Inventory study by the Field Museum, as well as other independent studies have described the ACRCTT as having the greatest biodiversity yet documented in a lowland Amazonian forest. Over 100 species of non-volant mammals, 16 species of primates and over 600 species of birds have thus far been documented.

The facilities of the ARC offer a unique opportunity for scientists, students and interested travelers to participate in scientific investigations in the Amazon rainforest. Much of the ongoing fieldwork research is conservation related, part of an effort to understand and preserve the most mega-diverse region yet documented in all the lowland Amazon forest. The ARC lodge, which houses researchers, students and other guests is a comfortable facility, while being located in remote Amazon wilderness. The closest other man-made structure, which is the supporting ecotourism Tahuayo Lodge of Amazonia Expeditions, is more than 12 miles (18 km) distance, reachable only by boat. The closest city, Iquitos, is more than 100 miles (+140 km) by boat.

Trail Grid

The centerpiece of the ARC research facilities is the Trail Grid system. Located behind the Research Center Lodge, it contains 55 miles (75 km) of trails spread over more than 1000 acres (2200 ha) and slicing through four different ecosystems. It is the largest scientific trail system offered in the Amazon. Many more miles of trails radiate out from the grid. Twelve species of primates have significant populations on the grid. Some 50 additional species of mammals are found, including apex predators such as jaguar and puma. While about half of all research takes place at the ARC on the trail grid, other research opportunities utilize the many lakes and rivers, native communities downriver and other unique ecosystems found near the main tourism lodge. Click here for a map of forest ecosystems represented on the trail grid.

Active Research Projects

Photo of puma captured by camera trap
Puma captured by camera trap near ARC

Wildlife population study – inventory of population data on key species. The data collected includes date, time, species, GPS location, nearest grid coordinate, group size, perpendicular distance from the nearest individual of the group to the trail, distance surveyed, and transect code.

Camera traps are used to collect data on many terrestrial species and attempts are now ongoing to explore drone camera technology on arboreal species.

photo of jaguar taken by camera trap
Jaguar photo captured by camera trap near ARC

Primate Research Current research on primates is helping to safeguard the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo’s spectacular primate fauna: 16 species representing every South American primate family and spanning the continent’s range of body size. Primate census of the trail grid was initiated in 2007 and continues to the present time. Students and tourists can choose to assist in the census or in habituation of particular social groups of each of six large-bodied species of monkeys.

Saki Monkey Project – Together with biologist Janice Chism we are investigating a possibly undescribed species of saki monkey that lives in flooded forests along the Tahuayo River. Since 2008 we have been observing 4-5 groups of sakis which live in the area covered by the trail grid at the Tahuayo River Amazon Research Center. We are trying to put together a photographic atlas of the sakis so we can document how many individuals are in each group, the identity of these individuals and any demographic changes in the groups (such as birth of babies, departure of maturing offspring, or changes in male or female membership). We are also trying to document the facial patterns of these monkeys because this is how we will figure out whether they are a new species or one that is known to science but hasn’t been reported in this area before

bald red uakari monkey
Bald Red Uakari Monkey

Additional ongoing research projects are investigating pygmy marmoset feeding mutualism, pink dolphin social behavior and native community resource use. Recent research has also focused on describing new species of poison dart frog, harlequin toad, damselflies and caddis flies, snail species rapid inventory (possible new species and genera), archaeology (age of first settlements), pygmy squirrel ecology, Bald Red Uakari ecology (one of the rarest primates in the world, living only in the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo Conservation zone and reserve buffer zone), manatees, soil ecology, carbon dioxide exchange in palm swamp ecosystems, and bird diversity.

Novel research proposals are invited.