Follow petcha on Twitter
Amazon Associate

If you see books or music or tools on this site that you would like to buy through Amazon, click here and thus i have seen will get a small percentage of the purchase price of the item. Thank you. 

The Elements of Typographic Style

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

North Face Base Camp Duffel (Medium)




Entries in Peru (8)


Cusco Market, Revisited

Another look at the Cusco market (see Cusco Market), this time on a different day. Crowds are less, but there are still the potatoes, bright textiles, brick streets, and cupolas to enjoy. [NOTE: This is a scan from an old slide (1985); sorry for the blue-ish cast].  



No internet. No voice mail. No long distance access codes. No digital anything. Nor any way to dial. Lovely room phone in the hotel in Huaraz, Peru. Elysa's nail polish and hand to the left. Image scanned from an old slide (1985), although it is unclear why I took the picture. Maybe the lamp? [NOTE: Huascarán, the highest peak in Peru and in all of the Earth's tropics, is clearly visible from Huaraz].    


Grias Predated

Grias peruviana (Lecythidaceae) is another varzea species that I studied while I was in Peru (see Camu-camu, Jenaro Herrera, Umberto Pacaya, Regeneration Surveys, and Yield Studies). The fruits of this tree, which are produced by caulifory along the trunk, are known locally as "sacha mangua" or faux mango.  They have bright orange pulp like a carrot, and a large football-shaped seed.

To quantify size-specific fruit yield, I marked several adult trees and made daily observations of flower and fruit development. During the period when the young fruits were maturing, I noticed each morning that several of the fruits had small scratches on them.  Just deep enough to cut through the skin and expose the pulp. The scratches continued appearing until the fruit reached maturity, at which point, rather than scratches, I would be greeted by the image above, i.e. a predated fruit with no seed. 

It turned out that the culprits were squirrels, and each morning they would scratch the fruits to see if the pulp had started to turn that bright orange color which would indicate that the fruit, or more importantly, the protein-rich seed, had now reached maturity and was ready to eat.  Like a savvy shopper testing cantaloupes in the produce aisle.


Regeneration Surveys

Once you know how many seeds a tree produces, it's worth the effort to find out what happens to them.  How many germinate?  How many are eaten? How many germinate and are then smashed by a falling branch? And where is the safest place for a seed to land?  Under the parent tree where there is a lot of competition or  dispersed away from the parent? All of these questions are directed toward developing a better understanding of how a particular species maintains itself in the forest.

Regeneration surveys provide the data to answer these questions.  In this picture, Umberto Pacaya is counting Spondias mombin fruits in marked plots positioned at varying distances from the parent tree.  Main findings: a lot of the fruit are eaten, a great number of them float away with the rising floodwater, many young seeedlings get smashed, uprooted, or defoliated, you can count the number of seedlings/hectare that get established each year on one hand. [NOTE: Ecological studies of Spondias mombin where conducted in a tract of varzea forest along the Ucayali River in Peru in collaboration with IIAP; Umberto loved using the click counter].


Yield Studies

Knowing how much fruit a tree produces can be a very useful piece of information.  It can give you some idea of how much fruit you can expect to harvest (and sell) from the forest, and it can provide insight into how many fruits you need to leave in the forest so that the tree will continue to regenerate itself. Yield studies can also be used to estimate rates of pollination, fruit set, fruit predation, and a host of other demographic parameters.  Good estimates of fruit production provide the basis for sustainable forest use.  

Unfortunately, we know very little about fruit production by tropical trees, even for valuable species like Brazil nut, mahogany, or rubber. Goes a long way in explaining the currently dismal situation with a lot of wild-harvested tropical forest resources.  The image above shows sample traps in position under a large Spondias mombin ("uvos") tree in Peru to quantify fruit production.  The fruits fall into the traps, the traps represent a certain percentage of the crown area of the tree, you count the former and multiply it by the latter to estimate total fruit yield.  Really not that hard to collect these data, and yet they are so rare. If you want to know the size-specific rate of fruit production for natural populations of Spondias in the Peruvian Amazon, click here. [NOTE: That's José Tuanama shown in the foreground; Umberto (see Umberto Pacaya) is visible in the background to the left. Elysa conducted the yield study of Spondias as part of her M.S. thesis].


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic archaeological sites in the world.  Since its "discovery" in 1911 by Hiram Bingham III, it has been visited by several 100,000 tourists a year.  I traveled to Machu Picchu during the mid-1980's when the Sendero Luminoso were still very active in the region. They kept blowing up the tourist train. Added a whole new dimension to the experience [NOTE: Image was scanned from a slide].


Cusco Market

And while I am thinking about markets, this is what Saturday looks like in the main produce market of Cusco, Peru.


El Ticlio

Winding around Mount Toromocho at an elevation of 4,781 m, El Ticlio is one of the highest mountain passes in the Andes.  The train from Lima to Huancayo also goes through here, making it the highest standard gauge railroad in the world. Beautiful scenery, but very hard to breathe. [NOTE: The photo was taken in the mid-1980's. I understand that now there's not as much snow on the peaks].