Elevational Gradients of Biodiversity in SE Peru

Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve is located in southeastern Peru. It is one of the largest and biologically richest protected areas in the world. Gazetted in 1973, it covers 18,812 km2, roughly the size of Wales or Massachusetts. Its habitats range from lowland tropical forests to montane cloud forests and moist pajonal grasslands. These differences reflect variation in elevation, from 365 m (1200 ft) at Boca Manu to the 3450 m (11320 ft) crest of the eastern Cordillera at Puesto de Vigilancia Acjanaco.

Previous surveys of Manu's biodiversity documented 190 species of mammals (Pacheco et al., 1993) and 901 species of birds (Fitzpatrick et al., unpubl.). Despite these impressive totals, the lists remained obviously incomplete. To more fully document and understand the remarkable diversity found on the Eastern Versant of the Andes, we undertook additional expeditions to Manu with the following objectives:

  • to more completely inventory the mammals, birds, and parasites in the reserve, providing reserve managers with a biodiversity baseline;
  • to document and describe new species, range extensions, and new ecological information;
  • to obtain biological samples for systematic, biogeographic, genetic, and ecological analyses of vertebrates and their arthropod parasites;
  • to organize collection information into web-accessible databases; and
  • to provide training for U.S. and Peruvian students and enhance resources for biodiversity studies worldwide.

To explore the Manu Project in full, go to the micro-site, click here.

To learn about its many intellectual products, click here.

A short film describing the logistics of these expeditions can be found here.