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Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Does counting parrots while floating down a river sound like fun? It sure is, even with all the motoring over rapids in the dark, fire ant swarms, snakes, and lightening strikes. We have been trying out a new method for counting parrots, and invite you to help us further develop this methodology for monitoring parrot populations by river in areas that might not otherwise be accessible, except by water or by air. This is especially true in the Guyana Shield countries of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. You can read more about this methodology in this recently prepared draft manuscript, "An Invitation to Collaborate Using River Transects in Parrot Population Monitoring." We say "draft" because this is very much a work in progress and we'd enjoy your comments and collaboration. Below is the scientific summary of that document.

David Edwards and Andrew Albert on the Rewa River

Many areas within the Americas face tremendous threats from trapping, poaching, and ecosystem degradation, yet it is largely unknown what impact these activities have on parrots. Population monitoring of parrot species, especially in hard-to-reach areas, takes resources and capacity that are not readily available in many regions. Rivers are often the only way to access remote regions or to cover large areas while minimizing resource use. This method builds upon other approaches to assess parrot populations, in particular one outlined in One Earth Conservation's “Guide to Multiple Fixed Transects in Parrot Monitoring.” The methodology in that guide of using terrestrial line transects for counting parrot populations on land was adjusted to using line transects covered by moving boats on water. Each moving river transect was two hours in length, with people stopping to count every 15 minutes and 500 meters, for a total of four kilometers in length. A complete transect consisted of two moving transects: one up river from a single fixed-point count and one downriver. These structured formal counts were combined with casual observations to develop a river survey methodology, which was then tested on the Rewa and Rupununi rivers in Guyana from 2016 to 2018, followed in 2019 by seven days of a river parrot survey going up the river from Rewa.

The results obtained are descriptive in nature and indicate how this methodology might be used to support a community’s conservation and ecotourism goals. We found it helpful for our conservation efforts in Rewa, in part because Rewa runs an eco-lodge where tourists use the river for fishing and wildlife viewing. Using this methodology, we were able to grow our understanding of the local species of parrots, as well as their locations along the river. Perhaps this methodology could assist others, especially in the Guiana Shield where little is known about the status of parrots by large rivers. This method could also be used to quickly evaluate entire countries and river systems, so as to plan and initiate next steps in the conservation management of these species. In addition, river transects could be used as a baseline for repeated counts, so as to assess population trends. We invite conservationists, researchers, managers, and communities to experiment with this method, or to offer comments and suggestions so that we may learn together.

A huge thanks to the many who co-authored this invitation and supported the project in so many ways.

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