Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve to receive two new scientists

The University of Magallanes recently received the good news that the Chilean national science commission (CONICYT) will fund its proposal to integrate two new faculty members whose functions will be to study invasive exotic species and fisheries management in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR).

The grant, written by Dr. Andrés Mansilla (OSARA Advisor) and Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA President), will significantly strengthen the team of investigators in the CHBR and also re-enforce the new priority of marine-terrestrial studies.

100_0103.jpgThe project is a first for the UMAG, which as a regional university is often at a disadvantage to receive important national funding. The current program will be funded by the prestigious Bicentenniel Initiative of the Chilean government and is meant to strengthen research teams by providing three years of funding for Ph.D. scientists that are subsequently incorporated into the full-time staff of the sponsor institution.

Cape Horn Research Center – Coming Soon!

100_1446.jpgWe are very proud to announce that this year our consortium was able to obtain the funding to implement much needed infrastructure in the CHBR. After years of work on this initiative by dedicated individuals, the IEB was able to take the lead in association with UNT and UMAG to obtain a highly prestigious grant, known as Fondos Basales, that together with contributions from the Center for Environmental Philosophy (CEP), UMAG, UNT and OSARA will provide $300,000 dollars to build a guest house-laboratory at the Omora Park.

This is undoubtedly a major step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our program in Cape Horn. The project will include “bioclimatic” design techniques and efficient energy use, hopefully becoming a model for sustainable construction in the region.

End-of-Year Message from the President

Dear Friends,

The past year has been a busy and productive one in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR). So, in addition to wishing everyone a Happy New Year, I would like to take a moment, during this season of reflection, to review some of these achievements and offer my sincere thanks to each of you for taking part in our initiative. Your contributions of time, money and effort enable us to continue exploring the biocultural treasures of the Cape Horn Archipelago.

The year started off with a bang in January. Dr. Kurt Heidinger (former OSARA education coordinator) led an intrepid group of 10 students from the University of North Texas (UNT) on the first “field philosophy” course conducted at the Omora Park . The success of Kurt’s program has begotten two more courses in the Tracing Darwin’s Path series for 2008. Dr. Jim Kennedy (OSARA Advisor) was also visiting the Omora Park from UNT in January for a pilot study that has now developed into an aquatic biodiversity assessment of the Robalo Watershed, supported by the Hispanic Global Initiative. This funding will allow students and scientists from UNT and the University of Magallanes (UMAG) to work on this little understood aspect of subantarctic ecology. To coalesce all these activities, UNT has now created a Chile Program Office, directed by Dr. Ricardo Rozzi (OSARA advisor), which works directly with OSARA to plan and execute these Chile-US programs.

Also in the area of education, in March the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB), UNT, and UMAG organized the first Latin American graduate-level course and workshop on biocultural conservation and environmental ethics, gathering top students from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Germany and the US, as well as world experts in ecology, philosophy and public policy from the U.S., Chile, Argentina and Europe. This innovative course and workshop, financed by the Chilean government and the U.S. National Science Foundation, reinforced the leadership role of Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve scientists and academics as pioneers in this new transdisciplinary field and strengthened their call that indeed conservation and human social wellbeing are intrinsically linked!

It is no surprise, then, that the research conducted in the CHBR has received extensive coverage in general media and scientific publications. National and regional documentaries of work in the Omora Park have been filmed for television. Dr. Francisca Massardo and her work with the “miniature forests of Cape Horn” (mosses, lichens and liverworts) was highlighted in Chile’s leading women’s magazine, and the park’s “Tourism with a Hand Lens” (to explore these miniature forests) has been recognized by President Bachelet and is being featured in numerous popular press outlets as an important innovation in what OSARA Director Andrew Holton has dubbed “conscious” tourism.

Internationally, the BBC program Serious Oceans chose the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and its scientists as the setting and protagonists for this year’s show, and our research on invasive species was highlighted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Winston-Salem Journal and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Meanwhile, an article recently published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a leading ecology journal, is provoking discussion among conservation planners about the right “lenses” to use when viewing and prioritizing biodiversity conservation outside of the traditional areas where scientists have focused such as the tropics and temperate zones.

We are also very proud to announce that this year our consortium was able to obtain the funding to implement much needed infrastructure in the CHBR. After years of work on this initiative by dedicated individuals, the IEB was able to take the lead in association with UNT and UMAG to obtain a highly prestigious grant, known as Fondos Basales, that together with contributions from the Center for Environmental Philosophy (CEP), UMAG, UNT and OSARA will provide $300,000 dollars to build a guest house-laboratory at the Omora Park . This is undoubtedly a major step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our program in Cape Horn . The project will include “bioclimatic” design techniques and efficient energy use, hopefully becoming a model for sustainable construction in the region.

Of course, the life force of our operation is its people (see attached photos). Numerous volunteers, students and researchers working in the CHBR this past year developed important projects on a wide range of topics, including volunteers assessing the autecology of the fi­o-fio, graduate students studying aquatic insects and scientists investigating the association of flies that disperse the spores of mosses (which actually smell like animal dung!), just to name a few. We were also very fortunate this year that Dr. Gene Hargrove accepted our invitation to become a member of OSARA’s board of directors, bringing with him 30 years of valuable non-profit experience as the president of the CEP and unquestionable academic leadership in his field.

As part of our mission to “translate” these findings to a wider audience, particularly in North America , OSARA reorganized its website this year as well. Thanks to the work of Michelle Moorman and Geoff Fellows, you can now go to and find an online atlas of the CHBR, an audio tour of the Omora Park (produced by OSARA Friend Roger Emanuels), an informational blog, a guide to the aquatic biodiversity of Cape Horn, photographs, and a preliminary digital library of scientific articles from the area.

Finally to finish out the year, just last week OSARA was able to obtain the donation of binoculars, a spotting scope and backpacks from the American Birding Association on behalf of the UMAG master’s program. This donation will now be used by the students who are conducting their theses on the role of sea birds as vectors that link marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the CHBR.

The best way to keep up-to-date on these and more happenings in Cape Horn is by visiting the online Cape Horn Journal, which is continuously updated with discoveries, events, student diaries and initiatives being carried out by OSARA and its partners. Recently, volunteer Bryan Ruegg edited his video clips of the Omora Park to view online from the Journal. So, take a look at his link to see some of the people and places of this special part of the world.

As 2007 closes, it is satisfying to reflect on the fact that OSARA has now been in existence for 3 years. Remaining true to our dream and mission, we have set goals that we are systematically attaining in partnership with our friends and colleagues in Chile and the United States . All who have contributed should be proud of these advances, but obviously much remains to be done. Your continued support will help us carry on promoting research, education and conservation in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. To renew your commitment today, please consider one of the following levels of support:

Friends of OSARA Society

* Contributor: $25-100
* Sponsor: $100-500
* Benefactor: $500-1,000
* Patron: $1,000-5,000

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Christopher B. Anderson
OSARA President

Cape Horn Research on Beavers in the News!

Fighting an Invasion: Mocksville ecologist helps fight a scourge of beavers in Chile

Winston-Salem Journal
By Andrew Marra
Buenos Aires, Argentina


It must have seemed like a good idea at the time: In 1946, hoping to start a fur trade, the Argentine government released 50 North American beavers in the sub-Antarctic islands on South America’s southern tip.

Click here for the whole article.

To see animation of the beaver invasion across the archipelago, click here.

Board Meeting – November 2007

During its board meeting held in November 2007, OSARA directors approved the following measures:

1) OSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson will propose a study abroad course to be held in conjuntion with the University of North Texas, OSARA, the Universidad de Magallanes, the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and CADIC (Ushuaia, Argentina), which will be carried out from May to June 2008. The international conservation course will focus on the integration of science and society using the case of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve as a model. The UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program, as well as the relevance of “long-term socioecological study sites,” will be emphasized as vehicles to link research and decision-making.

2) Michelle Moorman, who has worked on various projects in the CHBR including her masters, was extended an invitation to become a director for a 3-year period. Michelle is currently a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University and works as a hydrological technician at the U.S. Geological Survey.

3) As part of a series of measures to revitilze the functioning of OSARA, the board also decided to increase the size and formalilze the role of its advisory panel. The panel will now meet annually, and be charged with specific tasks under the direction of the president. In addition to current panel members Drs. Ricardo Rozzi, William Buck and John Silander, new panel members for 2008 include:

Dr. Andrés Mansilla
Director of Research and Graduate Programs, University of Magallanes
Coordinator of Marine-Terrestrial LTER, IEB-UMAG-Omora

Dr. Juan Armesto
Professor, Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity
Assistant Director, Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity
President, Senda Darwin Foundation

Dr. Jim Kennedy
Professor, University of North Texas
Director, Elm Fork Creek Natural History Museum

Dr. Amy D. Rosemond
Professor, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia

4) In addition, the board moved forward on various issues, including defining a communication and meeting strategy, exploring options to contract staff assistance, and defining new goals in membership and donations. Results from these decisions will be forthcoming.

5) The meeting schedule for 2008 is set for the third Sunday of January, April, July and October.

Cape Horn Research Highlighted in the News

Research on the effects of invasive beavers in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, conducted by OSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson, has been featured in the 16 news outlets owned by the Cox News Service. The article notes the significant efforts being made in the CHBR to link research with management implications. In addition, it focuses on the collaboration with the University of Georgia in this international initiative.

To read the piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, click here.

A shorter version can also be found in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, click here.

Biodiversity Of Southernmost Forests And Tundra Ecosystems

The recent article concerning the diversity of non-vascular flora in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, published by Dr. Ricardo Rozzi (OSARA Advisor), Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA President) and their colleagues from Chile, the U.K. and the U.S., has begun to receive attention in the press:

ScienceDaily(Oct. 26, 2007)

The definition of conservation priorities for biodiversity often focuses only on the numbers of vertebrate animals and seed plants in the northern hemisphere or in the tropics. But what about the other organisms, and the more extreme regions of the world, where the species richness of flowering plants and mammals is low? An interdisciplinary team of US, UK and Chilean taxonomists, ecologists, and philosophers explored the world’s southernmost forest and tundra ecosystems to estimate the diversity of the dominant vegetation, namely tiny bryophytes and lichens growing on trees, soils and rocks.

To see the rest of the story, click here

To see another article, published in Scenta, click here.

Ecosystem engineers: North American beavers change functioning of subantarctic stream ecosystems

A recent issue of Columns, the University of Georgia research magazine, highlighted the research being conducted by Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA President) and Dr. Amy Rosemond (OSARA Advisor) in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Their work has shown that the introduction of the North American beaver (Castor cannadensis) has caused increases in stream ecosystem function, while at the same time decreasing aquatic diversity. These research findings are being used as well for a regional invasive species management plan.

Click here for the whole article.

Annual Board of Directors Meeting

On October 21, 2007, the OSARA Board of Directors held its annual meeting. The Board unanimously passes the following resolutions:


1. By motion and unanimous consent, the Board of Directors of the Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance requests that Dr. Christopher Anderson develop a plan to incorporate a student worker-staff person based at the University of North Texas in the Chile Program Office created by Dr. Ricardo Rozzi. The plan will be evaluated at the next board meeting.

2. By motion and unanimous consent, the Board of Directors of the Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance hereby requests that Mr. Andrew Holton develop an action plan for its Advisory Panel.

3. By motion and unanimous consent, the Board of Directors of the Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance hereby approves as officers Dr. Christopher Anderson (President), Mr. Steven McGehee (Vice-President), Mr. Andrew Holton (Secretary), Mr. Carl Fisher (Treasurer) and Dr. Gene Hargrove (Director).

4. By motion and unanimous consent, the Board of Directors of the Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance hereby sets for its next meeting date the 18th of November, 2007. Notification will be sent by Secretary Holton to directors.

Wrapping it up…

I’ve been back home in Seattle for a couple months now, and I’m starting to adjust back to speaking English and the idea of autumn in November. I imagine that spring must be starting to creep in down south on Isla Navarino, and as much as I am enjoying the coffee and civilization here, part of me wishes that I could be there to see it.

I spent the end of 2006 on the island assisting with the University of North Texas writing course. They spent a few weeks rampaging around Puerto Williams and its environs, journals in hand, had lectures on Darwin at the top of mountains, ate limpets, and read Shakespeare to each other for hours in the forest. Despite the limpets and a two night backpacking trip, none of the students or instructors perished and we celebrated New Years with a bonfire on the shores of the Beagle Channel.

After the UNT course flew back to Texas and things got back to as normal as they ever get that close to Cape Horn, I left for a few weeks to explore Torres del Paine and then came back to Navarino for a few more months of fickle weather and birds. Rina Charlin and I continued mist netting every month, and in February and March we were able to band birds at another site a ways up the coast from town as well. We caught several hummingbirds at that site in March, which was extremely cool. Also in March I began to work seriously on a paper about the autecology of the fío-fío, which has now been accepted by the Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia. I also continued volunteering with Elke monitoring goose and duck nests on the coast, which was not only scientifically valuable but also lots of fun as we often came upon nests full of fluffy chicks or eggs in the process of hatching. Elke also traps and tags mink in the summer, but I seemed to act as a bad luck charm as the traps remained mink free whenever I checked traps with her.

Towards the end of March I hiked the five day circuit through the Dientes, Navarino’s mountain chain, and miraculously managed not to kill myself or even get (very) lost. It was pretty spectacular, what with the views of Cape Horn and the vividly colored fall foliage and jagged mountain peaks. Rina and I also took a day trip on the monthly ferry to Puerto Toro, which is the world’s southernmost permanent settlement and consists of fewer than forty people who are in turn almost outnumbered by fishing boats. We went there to distribute some of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve calendars produced by Omora, and had quite a successful day.

And then, finally, as all things must come to an end, I left the island and Omora in mid April on the overnight ferry to Punta Arenas, travelling through the most remote and beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, and after a few more months of shiftless wandering I made my way back home.


“Miniature Forests” in prestigous journal

The work conducted by scientists in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve is getting broader attention than ever these days in the major scientific journals of ecology and conservation. In the upcoming issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, you will be able to check out a new article written by Dr. Ricardo Rozzi and others that challenges the scientific community to “change the lenses” through which biodiversity is viewed.

Co-author, Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA president) points out that “in this article we use the case of the surprising diveristy of mosses, lichens and liverworts (bryophytes) in Cape Horn to show how we can be blind (or not have the right lenses) to even perceive the most diverse organisms around us. While Cape Horn lacks great diversity in mammals and trees, it is truly another ‘Amazon’ when it comes to the ‘miniature forests’.

However, the invitation these scientists make is to explore and discover unseen aspects of our natural world, in order to value, conserve and use them. This is the work that the scientists of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve are committed to and for which OSARA has the stated mission to support.

For a reprint of the article, please contact us!

Cape Horn Field Station – closer to a reality

Since 2004, OSARA together with the University of North Texas and the Omora Park have been searching for the appropriate way to achieve the construction of a field station in Cape Horn. Various people have been involved in this effort, whose complexity has required a slow, but steady march to arrive our goal.

We are, therefore, pleased to announce that in October, OSARA joined a coalition of organizations to create the Cape Horn Field Station. The new cosortium is lead in Chile by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity together with the University of Magallanes and the Omora Park and coordinated in the United States by the Univeristy of North Texas with the participation of various other universities and the Center for Environmental Philosophy.

This new team is now applying for funds from the Chilean government that will supplment the IEB’s current budget by $1 million dollars US per year for 10 years. The IEB has in the past two years taken a leadership role in managing the Omora Park as a long-term ecological research site, and these new new funds specifically will be used for infrastructure in the IEB’s three LTER sites, which also include Fray Jorge National Park (semi-arid ecoregion) and Senda Darwin Biological Station (Valdivian rainforest ecoregion).

OSARA is priviledged to be invited to participate in this initiative. In this way, our small effort is being re-enforced by a strong collaboration with organizations that provide at the same time a foundation, and also a projection for our joint projects.

Thanks to those who have helped with their donation of time, effort and money to help coalese this consotrium. We will be reporting on the progress of this initiative as time goes on.

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:

Tracing Darwin’s Path – Nature writing at the Beagle Channel

In December 2006 – January 2007, OSARA education coordinator Dr. Kurt Heidinger taught the first nature writing study abroad program at the Omora Ethnobotanical Park. The field course, organized by OSARA for the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Texas, included a multidisciplinary group of undergraduate students from Chile and the United States interested in “experience-based” learning and bridging the humanities and the sciences.

For pictures of this adventure, check out: