About This Project
The project focuses on the threatened Agami Heron (Agamia agami) in southern Belize. It will be a four week long study during their breeding season. Little is known about the Agami Herons activity in the northern portion of their range.This specific group of herons uses land that is not currently protected for conservation and could be at risk in the near future. This research will help conserve this important breeding ground for the threatened bird.
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What is the context of this research?
The Agami Heron is a mid-sized heron of Central and South America. They are currently listed as vulnerable. The Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education hosts a summer breeding population. BFREE is located in the rainforest of the Maya Mountains. It is a private field site dedicated to environmental education and conservation. These herons are one of the most northern breeding populations on record.
It has been documented that the herons are nesting at BFREE, but it is unknown how many of them are there. The Agamis share a lagoon with resident Boat-billed Herons. They are also uncommon birds, so the interaction between the species is intriguing. It is important to learn how the Agamis coexist with other species.
What is the significance of this project?
The land these herons use is not protected and could be at risk. This research could go a long way in conserving this land for them. It will provide key information on how the Agami interact with other animals. I will be able to make observations about breeding success and predation.
Agamis in Belize are understudied and the existence of this breeding ground is important for improving their conservation. There has been research projects in South America, but very little has been done in the northern range. Combining this study with the southern research will work toward an understanding of their population dynamics. This one month project will initiate one of the first long-term studies of Agamis.
What are the goals of the project?
1. Begin a long-term research program for Agami Herons at BFREE and possibly other parts of Belize
2. Record the number of Agami Herons present at this specific breeding ground. Record detailed information about their breeding habits and behaviors.
3. We want to observe them for the entire time they are at the BFREE facility. To help understand factors that may increase or decrease their abundance or breeding success.
4. I will try to publish this research in order to help conserve Agami Herons throughout their range.
5. I will have a large amount of photo and video documentation to help spread awareness and help conservation.
The money for in country Belize travel will be used on tickets on Maya Air flights to get from Belize city to Savannah. That is the closest I can get to the research site by plane. I will need a taxi or bus to get closer to BFREE. Then I will need workers from BFREE to pick me up and drive me out on the rugged path to get to BFREE. They charge $100 for the drive.
At BFREE i will have to pay for food and lodging for one month. I plan on sleeping in a tent, but I will still have to pay to stay on the property.
A $100 permit is required.
Possibly the most important portion of this budget is for the local field technician. I will have a skilled avian technician who is very familiar with BFREE and the surrounding area help me temporarily. He will help me get started as well as continue to make periodic observations for the rest of the season after I am finished.
The $500 for emergencies and unforeseen costs, if not used, will be carried over to assist in the long-term research project.
Meet the Team
The team at BFREE has welcomed me and shown support for this project. They are responsible for forming the Agami Heron research idea plan to continue after my hyper intensive study is over.
Dr. Jaime Rotenberg at UNCW is responsible for connecting me with BFREE and giving me my previous research experience.
My name is Dalton Jackson. I am a long time lover of wildlife and the environment. Throughout my college experience I have grown to love avian research and ornithology. I graduate from UNCW in December 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in conservation and a minor in Biology. I have gone to Belize three times in the last two years on avian research expeditions. The main focus of these trips was the elusive Harpy Eagle. I have experience extreme conditions camping in remote area of southern Belize for extended periods of time. I am the founding president of the on-campus Audubon Society at UNCW. I have spent time with a variety of wildlife in southern Africa.
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BFREE is a 501c3 nonprofit with a local chapter in Belize.
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