OSARA Obtains Donation from BeX

photo birders.jpgThe American Birding Association program Birder’s Exchange (BeX) approved an application submitted by OSARA for UMAG master’s student Cristóbal Pizarro to obtain birding equipment to conduct his thesis on the sea birds of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and their possible role as vectors that link marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The donation also proved useful in January as part of this year’s Tracing Darwin’s Path course for students involved in the elaboration of a new ethno-ecology book for which they had to obtain new photos and sound recordings of island birds.

New Lichen Expedition a Success

Lichen Expedition 2008.JPGA multi-national group of scientists, lead by Spanish lichenologist Dr. Leopoldo Sancho from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, returned to the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR) for a second major expedition in January. The trip continued work begun in 2005. This year the multidisciplinary team included taxonomists, geomorphologists, botanists, philosphers, UMAG masters students and UNT undergrads. The scientists and students navigated through the Northwest Arm of the Beagle Channel, studying principally the lichen flora found along recently receeded glacial valleys.

The taxanomic and ecological study will be linked to work done by Dr. Sancho and his colleagues in Antarctica and included the installation of a climate station in the Omora Park. Future work will continue to explore the effect of climate change and Antarctic-Subantarctic connections by using lichens. In addition, the team is helping Dr. Ricardo Rozzi, UMAG master’s student Yanet Medina and UNT undergrad Kelli Moses develop content for the narrative of the new “Garden of the Cape Horn Miniature Forest,” a trail being implemented in the Omora Park to bring this hidden aspect of biodiversity to tourists’ attention.

U. of Washington Graduate Students in the CHBR

During February, University of Washington Ph.D. Student Gus Jespersen will be implementing a novel study in the Omora Park, one that is being replicated as well in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest (USA). Gus’ work is of particular interest to the researchers of the CHBR as he is looking at the role of lichens in influencing the development of vascular plants in high-Andean sites, above treeline.

This is not the first U.W. research being conducted in the CHBR. For the past 3 years, the Omora Park has also received students Aaron Clark and Liz Addis, working with Dr. Rodrigo Vasquez on the ecophysiology of the rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis).

Peace Boat Coming to the CHBR

peace boat.jpgDuring March 2008, the Peace Boat will be passing through the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR). Organizers have asked to learn about the research, education and conservation activities carried out at the Omora Park and in the CHBR. So, while in port at Punta Arenas on the 15th, passengers will meet the researchers and students working at the University of Magallanes, hear a talk from OSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson, and visit the urban wetland “Humedal 3 Puentes,” whose conservation is being promoted by local authorities and citizens alike.

The Peace Boat‘s mission to “build a culture of peace around the world” takes it to ports-of-call from Vietnam to Oman and Antarctica to Alaska. At each location, organizers link visitors with non-profit organizations working on key issues of poverty, the environment and human rights.

OSARA and UNT Strengthen Collaboration

kelli.jpgOSARA and the University of North Texas’s Chile Program Office have formalized their collaborative efforts in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve this semester by jointly hiring Kelli Moses as a Project Assistant who will help coordinate the courses, events and programs being carried out in southern Chile.

Kelli is currently finishing her B.S. in Biology at the UNT, and she first came to Puerto Williams as a student in the first ever Tracing Darwin’s Path course in 2006. Since then, she has been an active participant in the implementation of the Chile Program Office at UNT. She is also conducting her thesis on the relationship of aquatic mosses and macroinvertebres in the CHBR, just coming back recently from a boat-based expedition to the Northwest Arm of the Beagle Channel.

We welcome Kelli, who brings to this initiative her own personal enthusiasm and dedication, as well as formally helping to consolidate the collaboration that UNT and OSARA have been developing since 2006.

Upcoming Tracing Darwin’s Path Course in the CHBR

From 30 May to 15 June, 2008, OSARA will lead a new Tracing Darwin’s Path course to the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. The course, entitled “Field Course in Sub-Antarctic Conservation: Integrating the Human Dimension to Biocultural Conservation at the Southern End of the Americas,” will provide students with an interdisciplinary research, conservation and education experience at one of the most pristine wilderness areas remaining in the world and will focus on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MaB) Program’s approach to conservation – linking people and development with biodiversity and ecosystems. In addition, the 10 students from the U.S. will also interact with a parallel master’s course from the University of Magallanes (UMAG). Finally, the program will conclude with a 4 day international workshop inaugurating the Omora Park as a long-term socio-ecological reserach site (LTSER) with national and international academics and authorities.

Lead professors Dr. Christopher Anderson and Dr. Ricardo Rozzi will place emphasis on the following specific topics:

Global change – a holistic approach to social-biological change

– Exotic and invasive species
– Climate change and the ozone hole
– Endangered cultural diversity

LTERs – moving beyond just monitoring and achieving social integration
– Terrestrial-marine linkages
– “Hidden” biodiversity – bryophytes and aquatic macroinvertebrates
– Opportunities for ecosystem restoration and decision making

For more information, email the OSARA-UNT Chile Program Assistant Kelli Moses (kelli.moses@gmail.com).

New book on the Robalo River watershed – culture and biodiversity

Libro tomas low res.jpgIn January, José Tomás Ibarra (Omora Project Coordinator) and Ximena Arango (UMAG Local Coordinator and IEB Outreach Assistant) launched the new book entitled Habitats and Inhabitants of the Robalo Watershed with a public presentation in the town library. The book was published in association with Omora, UMAG, the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and Fauna Australis and financed by the project “Views from today and yesterday of the Robalo Watershed” with the support of the Chilean National Environment Commission.

The project explores the different “tracks” left behind by the different cultures that have inhabited the watershed that houses the Omora Park and provides drinking water to Puerto Williams. Going from the Yaghans and the first English missionary colonists up to the present day, the book links both cultural and biological diversity and is the final product of a parallel course that was taught in the local elementary school by Ximena and Omora volunteer Melisa Gañan.

For more information visit: www.umag.cl/williams

Tracing Darwin’s Path Student – Carolina Saunders – Wins Photo Award

UNT student Caroline Saunders participated in 2006-2007 in the first UNT-OSARA study abroad course, carried out at the Omora Park under the direction of former OSARA education coordinator Dr. Kurt Heidinger.

Now, Caroline’s photographic work has been awarded BEST IN SHOW in the Hot Shots from Hot Spots Photo Competition. The award winning photo was entitled “Reflections in a Windblown Tree”, and according to Caroline included an image of the course professor “reflecting in a windblown tree on the Beagle Channel. To the left, one of many Chilean cows. This tree (and specific spot) was my favorite area of all the country we visited.”

Dr. Heidinger’s response to the awarding winning photo of himself was “Hey! I always wanted wanted to be famous! Congratulations, Caroline! You are certainly a talented photographer.”

For more, visit Caroline’s website: http://web.mac.com/sanders.caroline/iWeb/Chile/Home.html

International Course on “Conservation and Society”


Biodiversity loss and other forms of environmental degradation stem from cultural and social causes that must be combined with scientific perspectives to achieve effective conservation and more sustainable land use practices. Leading social and environmental scientists now promote the development of interdisciplinary approaches addressing complex eco-social problems. Interdisciplinary fields such as ecological economics and restoration ecology have generated concepts such as “ecosystem goods and services” and “ecosystem health and rehabilitation,” stimulating scientific research, policy development, and conservation strategies.

The March 2007 workshop seeks to promote a similar type of interface between the ecological sciences and environmental ethics. Such interface is particularly needed for helping policy makers and the public understand how scientific knowledge relates to ethical and societal values.

This workshop consists of ten days of research and collaboration in two locations: 1) on Chiloé Island, southern Chile (42°S), March 15-18, 2007, and 2) on a vessel and at Puerto Natales (52°S) visiting salient examples of forest ecosystems, March 19-24, 2007. Part one of the workshop on Chiloé will consist of 60-100 participants; part two of the workshop will consist of 25-30 participants.

The workshop will bring together leading environmental scientists and environmental ethicists from the US, Chile, and other Latin American countries. This workshop will focus on the challenges faced by the increasingly threatened frontier ecosystems in temperate, southern South America. The ecological and social setting of these ecosystems raise critical issues about the complexity of social-ecological systems as well as ethical obligations of local, regional, and global society towards remaining frontier ecosystems. Key foreign collaborators for this workshop are Dr. Mary Kalin of the Chilean Millennium Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB), and Dr. Juan Armesto of the Catholic University of Chile.

The aims of the workshop are to 1) generate a workable scientific and societal definition of “ecological frontier,” and 2) clarify the question of how this definition can help inform conservation strategies, policy making, and land use options in the frontier ecosystems of southwestern Chile and other regions.