Understanding the big picture through research- like a photograph, scientific research captures many details of a place and time and allows us to examine a subject from different perspectives. For example, studying frogs in Belize provides a better understanding of issues that affect us directly such as water quality and global climate change. Researchers in Belize have detected agricultural chemicals in pristine environments of the Cockscomb Mountain Range. What affects amphibians today may affect other wildlife and people in the future unless specific land management strategies and actions are put into practice.
Our biodiversity research and monitoring program is designed to provide current and pertinent information to its management team while building institutional capacity and Belize’s scientific knowledge base. As the Society adapts its management activities to meet increasing user demands, sustained threats to biodiversity, and constricting resources, the generation of data is key in prioritization of management activities.
Institutional support for research and monitoring include coordinating technical personnel and a compliment of trained field staff stationed at the protected areas. The program is equipped with a GIS system and basic field equipment to carry out field activities in both terrestrial and marine environments. Where the in-house support and expertise is not available or data is deficient for a particular species or ecosystem, the Society relies on external research partners and volunteers.
Through collaborative efforts with local academic institutions and international conservation and research organizations, the Society continues to promote research and monitoring on critical species such as the Jaguar (Panthera onca), Yellow-headed parrot (Amazona oratrix), Central American River turtle (Dermatemys mawii), among others for the terrestrial protected areas. Research and monitoring is also ongoing for vulnerable marine spawning aggregations areas for Groupers (Serranidae) and Snapper (Lutjanidae); key turtle nesting beaches; coral reef health; and Queen Conch and Spiny Lobster populations of Half Moon Caye Natural Monument and the wider Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
Some examples of long-term research carried out in the protected areas co-managed by us are:
|Long-term monitoring of jaguars and pumas and their prey in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary||Research on jaguars in the Cockscomb Basin first started in 1982 by Alan Rabinowitz. Of late, the University of Belize-Environmental Research Institute has partnered with Panthera and the Belize Audubon Society to continue research on the elusive cat.|
|Insect communities of Belize-Assessment of selected families of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera at Cockscomb Basin||Dr. Shuey and his co-researchers have been studying butterflies in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS) since 2004. To date, they have recorded 1,425 butterflies from Cockscomb Basin, representing 359 different species. Some species found only within Cockscomb Basin are Symmachia tricolor, Theope phaeo, Anteros formosus and Zonia zonia. Many of the rare species have been encountered on the Outlier Peak|
|Behavioral Ecology of Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) on neotrotopical non-breeding grounds in Belize||Bill Hilton returned to Belize in 2013 for the fifth consecutive year to continue his studies on the Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (CTWS). Other exciting captures included the recapturing of American Redstarts, Summer Tanagers and White-eyed vireos from 2011 which indicates fidelity to their site. Other migrants were captured and banded while the resident birds were only photographed.|
|Marine research and monitoring within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll||The Belize Audubon Society has been very instrumental in participating in key monitoring activities within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll (LHRA), particularly including the two marine protected areas it co-manages-Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments. Ongoing research and monitoring within LHRA include:
Procedures for Conducting Research
To conduct research within any of the protected areas co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society researchers are required to apply in writing to the relevant Government Departments of Belize by filling out the Scientific Research Application form at least 3 months in advance of the start date of their research. Contact the Forest Department for terrestrial protected areas and Fisheries Department for marine protected areas.
All research applications must be simultaneously submitted to the Belize Audubon Society for review and endorsement. Subsequent to approval, all researchers will be required to sign the Belize Audubon Society’s Research Agreement.
Additionally, one of the Society’s strengths is the support it receives through its volunteer program. There are opportunities for volunteers to participate in research and monitoring by matching skills with needs.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the Belize Audubon Society’s main office.
Conservation Programme Director
Belize Audubon Society
16 North Park Street
Belize City, Belize