The prestigious journal Annals of Botany (Page 1 of 20; doi:10.1093/aob/mcs130) has just published a paper that compares Proteaceae from Australia with those of Chile. This research was lead by Professor Hans Lambers, from the University of Western Australia, with the participation of Professor Alejandra Zúñiga from Universidad Austral de Chile. Proteaceae from Australia removilize phosphorus from senescent leaves, while Proteaceae from Chile produce litter rich in phosphorus. For this reason, Proteaceae from younger soils, such as in Southern Chile, could act as ecosystemic engineers, supplying phosphorus to those plants that lack specialized root structures for removing P compounds tightly bound to acid soils. Part of this work was performed at Katalapi Park
During the strong storm of late May in Katalapi, the oldest tree in the park was knocked down by strong gusty winds. This was an enormous old tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma), who sheltered us for years under its shade. Around this old tree, hummingbird often held territorial battles. There is even a local legend that tells: if you sit under its shade and make a wish, you should steadily keep your thoughts on your wish; when the first chucao (a bird from the forest) sings, it is a signal that the Great Tineo had listened and that your wish would be granted.
Chilean biologists, based on studies by Dr Chris Lusk, estimated that the Great Tineo was around 800 years old. Ax marks on its trunk made a century ago show that the tineo resisted forest workers when modern techniques for cutting trees were not available. This old tree invited many people to think about our short stay on Earth and the scars we leave on it.
We are not crying about its downing because it is the cycle of life and the succession in the forest: in the space left by the Great Tineo new future forest monuments will grow. However, we are thankful for the years it was with us and declare our admiration for this fallen remnant of the Chilean primary temperate rain forest.
The field guide to observe and identify the Birds of Parque Katalapi is available for all those that wish to download it from our web page. The guide includes descriptions and photographs of 42 birds species that have been observed within the park. These descriptions contain order and family, common name in Spanish, Mapudungun, and English, descriptions of female and male adults, and chicks, habitat, feeding, reproduction, and behavior. It is also possible to find valuable web links for their sounds and conservation status. Information on abundance of species, best time to observe them and continuity of their presence in the zone will help bird watchers.
The guide was made by Marcelo Mayorga, Journalist and Biologist from Universidad de Concepcion. Marcelo Mayorga has a long experience in making science available to the general public. For example, he worked for several years at Buin Zoo, where he was in charge of educational programs. He also helped to make the programs for environmental interpretation for the national Park Laguna del Laja. The publication the the guide Birds of Parque Katalapi confirms his commitment with education and conservation of the Chilean fauna,
The presence of three previously unsighted species within Katalapi Park was confirmed this summer season: the painted lizard Liolaemus pictus, the tree-mouse Irinomys tarsalis, and the "Monito del Monte" or Dromisiops gliroides . These species were observed and -in the first two cases- photographed, by Veterinary Medicine students from the Universidad Mayor, doing their internship at our private protected area. The students, Belén Bustamente, Ismael Horta, Cristóbal Suazo, and Fernanda Soffia, are also part of "Vida Nativa", a group specializing in native species, which has done important base line information and education efforts in Santiago´s Quebrada de Macul.
The painted lizard species is considered "vulnerable", and was photographed near the campground. The tree-mouse´s conservation status has not been classified, but is clearly differentiatied from other mice by its brush-shaped tail. It was found on a fern, bordering the Menocos Trail.
The last sighting was the "Monito del Monte", a species considered "insufficiently known". It is a tiny nocturnal marsupial that weighs approximately 25 grams and has a prensile tail. Previous indirect indicators of its presence had been found, the most telling of which was a characteristic nest, found by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) biologist Alberto Tacón, four years ago. Last week, Universidad Mayor interns saw three Monitos in one sighting. "We saw them climbing very clearly" say Ismael and Fernanda, "and they were recognizable beyond a shadow of a doubt by their binocular eyes and the prensile tail". At the moment of the sighting, they were doing nocturnal research in the area of the park with most mature vegetation, bordering the Tepual River, near a patch of native bamboo.
These new sightings are considered of great importance for the park, given that they are infrequent species, difficult to sight, and in some cases, in special conservation category. Ana María Vliegenthart, Education Director, indicated that together with intern Belén Bustamente, they have already begun working on interpretative activities and species information, given that the presence of these new species in the park opens new opportunities to reach visitors with fascinating data.
Once a year, the World Wildlife Fund´s United States (WWF-US) board of directors travels to one country in the world to get to know the work of their local offices. This year, the privilege fell on Chile and during their short tour, they stopped for a few hours to get to know the temperate rainforest in Katalapi Park.
The people who belong to the WWF-US Board are key actores in conservation worldwide. They are the ultimate people responsible for initiatives that have created greener markets, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme, or emblematic campaigns to save species, such as their logo´s animal, the panda bear.
At the park, visitors walked the Tineo trail, where at interpretative stops they learned about the pressures the temperate rainforest is under, saw concrete examples of how some of the legacy of these pressures have affected forest composition and structure in our park, and got to know some of the extraordinary treasures of biodiversity it hosts. One of the high moments for the visitors was the sighting of a bird called the Chucao, a type of Tapaculo. This bird is by nature curious and trusting, and came close to the visitors and they looked at each other attentively. Although the chucao is a fairly common bird in the south of Chile, it is endemic to our temperate rainforests, reason why it is a bird of great interest for foreign birdwatchers.
During the event, the Board of Directors also listened with great interest to a talk by the Association of Private and Indigenous Protected Areas -ASI Conserva Chile. Board members Rodrigo Condeza, Javier Ancapan, and Elisa Corcuera emphasized the strength, variety, and depth of the Chilean private lands conservation movement in relation to the global context, and its extraordinary potential which, in order to be fulfilled, requires establishing quality standards and support programs for members to raise their management standards. ASI Conserva Chile also took the opportunity to thank WWF Chile for their support since the birth of the organization, and for their enthusiasm in current cooperation projects.