Support IPBio in various research activities
The Eco -Volunteer/Biodiversity Research Assistant role is a joint role between IPBio and Celine which contains a range of activities which are conducted in a group. The majority of these tasks are related to long term field research activities where repetitive data collection is required to understand trends over long periods. This role is for volunteers who like to be outside and enjoy physical activity. Most projects go on all year long so you will participate in most these activities unless weather conditions are unfavorable and new projects may be added. Tasks of an eco-volunteer are:
a) Tree Inventory: we mark and measure tree species to study the biodiversity in different areas of the reserve to assess forest well-being. In the process we can understand the distribution of fruit tree species which is particularly important for Celine. Why? Imagine you are releasing a parrot which only eats a certain fruit and it only grows between June and July. Therefore, you should only release this parrot during these months to ensure it has available food which will increase the chances of a successful release. Moreover, these birds are tagged and monitored after their reintroduction to the wild to ensure they are adapting well and therefore identifying fruit trees in the area will increase the likelihood of finding the bird to monitor their progress.
b) Garden Day: as a group we help out in the gardening, construction or maintenance of the reserves grounds. Weeding in the greenhouse; clearing the trails of branches and leaves; removing exotic plants; planting seedlings for reforestation. This is hard but rewarding work!
c) Mushroom Inventory: we search for new species of mushrooms in order to identify them, photograph them and collect their spore prints which are like a mushrooms finger print. In addition, we do searches at night to find bioluminescent mushrooms which light up the floor in an avatar-like fashion.
d) Bird Inventory: active search for birds to understand presence, abundance, distribution and seasonality of native species.
e) Habitat Monitoring: we study four ponds on the reserve ranging from natural to artificial ponds to understand the impact of exotic plants on pond health. We collect and analyze data of water quality as well as aquatic bugs, fish and tadpoles as bio-indicators.
f) Mammal Monitoring via Cameratraps: we have cameras filming 24/7 in the forest but all his data needs to be sorted. Volunteers are tasked with watching the footage, organizing the photos of mammals and identifying the species. We can then understand diversity, distribution and seasonality of these species.
g) Fish Inventory: we aim to identify species and understand their micro-habitats (pool, riffle and run) as well as collect data on the river.
h) Bird Mediated Seed Dispersal Project: we aim to understand what seeds are dispersed by birds to help inform best practices of release for Celine and reforestation efforts. We collect and sort seeds, identify bird species that visit the bird feeder which is filmed and check fruiting periods of those species.
i) Insect Inventory: understand the diversity and distribution of insects on the reserve. j) Creative Projects: such as creating beautiful birdhouses, paper mache art for the volunteer house and more As you can imagine, in the rainforest it rains quite a lot. If every time it rained, we stopped working we would never get any work done so often we need to keep going. However, sometimes it is too much! As this is a field research role which requires being outdoors a lot, if it becomes impossible to continue activities due to weather conditions, volunteers will be let off work early.
A typical day is starting at 9am when we have a daily group meeting. Each day has its own activity so if it was a Friday then we head into the forest to conduct the tree inventory which requires measuring, photographing and attempting to identify species of trees. At noon you will come back to make some lunch and have an hour break. After lunch we would help out with some of the reserve maintenance so this could involve removing weeds from the garden or collecting rocks to make bromelia patches.
Caves: Iporanga is called “The Cave Capital of Brazil” with over 400 caves in the town. Below are just the highlights.
•Casa da Pedra is the world’s largest cave entrance of 215 meters. The trip involves a 2-hour hike to the opening where there is a place to sit down and have a picnic and swim and then a hike back.
•Temimina Cave has a large opening in the ceiling illuminating its oddly shaped diagonal garden. Then you enter into a dark cave where at the end you find a natural shower hole.
•Nucleo Santana is a group of caves and is the most commonly visited as it has a wide range of different types of caves. In some caves you can swim. - Tubing/Boia Cross: is a sport where by you get on a big balloon and float down the river. There are various waterways you can do in Iporanga, some more radical and some in the big river which is very relaxing and can last 3 hours.
- Cananeia: has various islands with dolphins swimming in between which are very easy to visualize. It is also known for its stunning beaches, awesome boat tours, great restaurants and the mangrove reserve where there are many crabs. - Waterfalls: Iporanga has many waterfalls. “Sem Fim” is a small waterfall walking distance from the reserve. “Vale das Ostras” has 12 large waterfalls in a row.
- Quilombos: during the era of slavery many slaves would run away from the plantations and create settlements hidden in the forest. These communities live in relative isolation and you can visit their small towns. For some of the Quilombos the tours include travelling their by boat and having a traditional lunch at one of the families homes.
- Social Events:
•Dinners: there are many nice restaurants were volunteers can have dinner, some more classy like Casarao and some with traditional Brazilian food. There is also a great fish restaurant. Often volunteer will eat out on the weekends.
•Town Parties: the are a couple of bars in town, some have pool tables and some have dancing areas. On holidays, there are usually town festivals on the streets.
•BBQ: it is very common to have a BBQ on the weekend which is often accompanied with the traditional Brazilian drink called Caipirinha.
Private rooms, shared rooms in a volunteer house
Volunteers will stay at the Darwin Guest House, situated on the reserve itself, which accommodates up to 12 people in 8 rooms. Two rooms are collective rooms and 6 rooms are single rooms. All rooms have air conditioning or a fan, closet space and electricity outlets. Individual rooms have a desk with a chair. The house has 3 bathrooms with hot showers, a washing machine and has a fully equipped kitchen where volunteers can cook. A cleaning lady provides basic cleaning services for public areas and will provide fresh bed linen once a week. However, it is also the volunteer’s responsibility to maintain and clean the house; we take this very seriously. Volunteers work from 9am to 3pm during week days with an hour lunch break. Shops are located in the town of Iporanga 6km away from the reserve, which you can walk to or get a taxi, where there are various shops with all you will need. There is a small organic herb patch you can use and the gardener distributes vegetables when they are ripe.
lab, volunteer house, greenhouse, aquarium, deck by the river where you can swim, 7 trails and lots more
- Laboratory equipped with magnifying glasses and stereoscopic microscopes that capture digital images, laminar flow chambers, incubators, autoclaves, freezers and workbenches.
- Aquarium installed in an artificial lake of 500m2 with five aquatic environments that can be observed though underground tunnels with windows.
- Greenhouse with amphibians and bromeliad that houses native flora, waterfalls and marsh environments.
- Dark room where one can observe the curious phenomenon of bioluminescence in fungi from the region.
- Classroom, which seats 50 people for lectures, technical courses and multimedia projections.
- Dining area that can accommodate groups up to 60 people or be used for exhibitions. - Seven research trails through the forest where observations of native species are made.
- Six pitfall sites, each containing 5 pitfalls (used to collect amphibians, reptiles and small mammals), distributed around the reserve.
– The Observatory for Biodiversity is a network of video cameras that record the fauna and flora 24 hours a day, generating films and content for use in research and education. - 3 Bushnell Camera Traps for photographing and filming mammal in HD
– motion/temperature sensor, infrared, programming options, LED lights.
- 5 GoPro cameras with 2 subaquatic cases. - 2 bioacoustics “Song Meter SM4” recorders from Wildlife Acoustics with software for data analysis.
- Database with over 5000 images taken in natural habitats of each species.
- Release Centre with enclosures for the birds.
9 staff members - manager, biologists, release centre coordinator, volunteer coordinators, cleaner, reserve keeper
House with locks, security camera etc. Although we are in rural Brazil where crime rates are low.
Volunteer will cook and clean for themselves.
There is a small town called Iporanga 6km away from the reserve with shops, emergency hospital etc.
Details of how to get here explained in the volunteer package
Either English or Portuguese at a high level, Spanish can work also
No - best pick out of applicants
Full list of what to bring in the volunteer package
- Volunteer Package will all information needed
- Daily meetings
- Training for research projects
- Coordination during activities
- Support for organising tourism activities for weekends
Volunteers at IPBio are required to pay 650 reais per week (please check up-to-date exchange rate in your currency). This fee covers the volunteer’s accommodation, internet access and project costs for the specific dates agreed upon. Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as travel costs, visa costs etc. A volunteer only confirms their placement once their payment is made. Once a volunteer makes their payment there is no refund if they decide to cancel for whatever reason. We will provide you with specific payment options by email. The currency in Brazil is the Real. There is an ATM machine in Iporanga which accepts Visa Credit/Debit cards. ATMs give a better exchange rate than Exchange Houses. Check with your bank to see if your cards will work in Brazil, and tell your credit card company that you will be traveling overseas. Exchange some money prior to arriving in Brazil. The amount of money you want to bring is really up to you. Volunteers are responsible for purchasing products for the house such as garbage bags, cleaning products and toilet supplies. Volunteers are also responsible for buying their own food and cooking for themselves. On average a volunteer spends 450-1000 reais a month on total although of course this varies on your lifestyle choices. This covers living costs such as food, drinks, transportation and house supplies. On the high end of 1000 reais you would be going out for dinner regularly and doing various weekend activities but this is up to each volunteer hence we put a price range. Dinner out (without drinks) ranges from 15 to 30 reais. Cost of tours (including a guide, equipment and entrance fee costs around 110 to 140 reais depending on how many volunteers go.
Not Included In Price: Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as living costs, travel costs, visa costs etc.
Your search is over! If you are looking for somewhere to volunteer in South America and you love animals or science, then this is the place! I have been volunteering around South America with my husband for the last 5 months, and this has by far been the best place yet! There is such a variety of activities that we have been doing that it is never boring. We have monitored trap camera footage, observed birds, monitored ponds and trees, and collected fish and river data! It has been so incredible being able to help the research efforts and get to see the amazing biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest first hand! The accommodations were also incredibly comfortable, from private rooms with personal air-conditioning units, to a fully stocked kitchen and living area, it was really lovely! This is such a special place and I am really sad to be leaving, but it has been such an amazing experience that I will remember it forever! I would definitely recommend volunteering at the Betary Reserve! This place is truly unlike any I have ever seen before. On top of the beautiful destination, the amazing research, and the fun activities, this place is so well organizsed! That is one thing we have had some difficulties with at previous volunteer locations, is a lack of organisation. So it has been such a breath of fresh air to have things lined out, planned ahead of time, and on schedule!
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