From 5 July - 5 August 2007, PIs Jason Weckstein (Staff Scientist, FMNH Bird Division), John Bates (Associate Curator, FMNH Bird Division and Alexandre Aleixo (Curator of Birds, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi [MPEG]), MPEG graduate students Elinete Rodrigues and Maya S. Faccio, Marcos Pérsio (Professor, Universidade Federal do Piauí [now Universidade do Pará]), and MPEG technicians Nilton Santa Brígida and Manoel Santa Brígida conducted a joint expedition to study birds and their parasites along the Rio Japurá in Amazonas, Brazil.
The MPEG/Field Museum team with support from the Field Museum’s Collections Fund and a National Science Foundation Grant surveyed and collected specimens of birds and their ectoparasites on both banks of the Rio Japurá, Amazonas state. Specimens from the Rio Japurá region are particularly important for understanding Amazonian biodiversity because two major areas of Amazonian endemism, the Napo and Imerí, meet along its banks. Furthermore, little ornithological and no parasitological work has been done along the banks of the Rio Japurá, making the specimens collected by the MPEG/Field Museum team particularly important for biodiversity studies. The expedition was extremely productive and included over 430 ectoparasite samples collected from 866 birds of over 200 species. Many of the lice are new species and some have now been described (see Outputs: Publications above) by collaborator Michel Valim and PI Weckstein. We are continuing to study specimens collected on this expedition and they will benefit several collaborative research projects being conducted by the PIs and collaborators under our NSF Biodiversity Discover and Analysis project, Southern Amazonian birds and their symbionts: Biodiversity and endemicity of parasites from the most diverse avifauna on Earth. PI Vasyl Tkach (Associate Professor, University of North Dakota) is leading a study of nematodes collected from the eyes of birds on this and other Amazonian expeditions.