ARC Amazon’s LPAC

Recently I volunteered at the Las Piedras Amazon Research Center cataloging fungi on the 11,000 acre preserve. This is the biological station of the non-profit, ARCAmazon. The number and diversity of animals and plants in just this one spot of the Peruvian Amazon is staggering. In my two weeks there, I took hundreds of photos, a small portion of which are below:

I met some wonderful people at LPAC.  The scientists, explorers & photographers above represent ‘humanity’ in my extropian poem of DNA as a time-traveler. The background for the other original poem is a small fruiting-body we photographed for the fungi catalog.


Five minutes walk on the path to the station from our boat docked on the Rio Las Piedras, herpetologist, Pat Champagne picked up the golden snake shown below. Red snakes (oxyrhopus I believe) were quite calm in Melanie Deschs’ hands and primatologist, Clemencia spotted this turtle in a puddle on the trail. Note that this was an educational event and the animals were quickly released. (Most will agree that in a natural setting, and especially from the animal’s point of view, the less interaction with humans, the better.)


Spiders & their structures


Many days I walked the forest with LPAC’s mycologist, Melanie Desch, collecting mushrooms (fungus fruiting bodies). The beauty can be stunning and often the tiny ones are overlooked (some are barely a millimeter across). We tried to limit ourselves to about 30 samples a day so we could photograph and measure them before dusk.

I came with a fascination for cordyceps, hoping to see one or two. It turns out that either this is a hot spot or Melanie is a magnet for them. We saw them on all sorts of insect corpses. This is a genus of fungus known to parasitize insects and other arthropods. Interesting, in that it seems to modify the behaviors of some (a terrestrial ant might take to climbing plants before it ultimately dies and the cordyceps releases its spores).

One can find anything from grasshoppers laying in the leaf litter sprouting finger-like orange mushrooms, to wasps and ants, mandibles clamped in death to leaves and displaying fine silver filaments, to termites buried in mounds with six centimeter stipes protruding and topped with two-millimeter bright red fruiting bodies.

Fungi: cordyceps