Sunday, October 30, 2016

A selection of the books I read for my recent trip to Brazil

NOTE: I didn't read in this room
at the Casa Teatro Hotel
In preparation for my trip to Brasil, I read the following book. One of them, The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray by Jorge Amado, I'd read last year for my trip that was cancelled due to visa issues.

List of Books
  1. A voyage up the River Amazon: including a residence at Para by William H. Edwards (1822-1909) (1847)
  2. A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro by Alfred Russel Wallace (1853)
  3. The naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892) (1863) . Volume 1 and Volume 2
  4. A journey in Brazil by Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz and Louis Agassiz (1868)
  5. Brazil, the Amazons and the coast by Herbert Huntington Smith (1851-1919) (1879)
  6. The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon by Jules Verne (1881)
  7. Notes of a botanist on the Amazon & Andes; being records of travel on the Amazon and its tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupâes, Casiquiari, Pacimoni, Huallaga and Pastasa; as also to the cataracts of the Orinoco, along the eastern side of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, and the shores of the Pacific, during the years 1849-1864 by Richard Spruce (1908). Volume 1 and Volume 2 and BHL
  8. Through the Brazilian wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt (1914)
  9. Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (1934)
  10. One River by Wade Davis (1996)
  11. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (2005)
  12. State of Wonder by Ann Patchet (2011)
  13. A Machado de Assis Anthology by Machado de Assis
  14. The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (2012) by Jorge Amado

State of Wonder
The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (Penguin Classics)
A Machado de Assis Anthology
A Handful of Dust
Through the Brazilian Wilderness
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
A Journey in Brazil
Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes: Being Records of Travel on the Amazon and Its Tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupes, Casiquiari,
A voyage up the River Amazon: including a residence at Pará
A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, with an Account of the Native Tribes, and Observations on the Climate, Geology, and Natural History of the Amazon Valley
One River
The Naturalist on the River Amazons
Eight Hundred Leagues On The Amazon (Annotated)
Brazil; The Amazons and the Coast. Illustrated from Sketches by J. Wells Champneys and Others.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

South America has the most extensive and most varied avifauna of all the continents. On the other hand, its mammalian fauna, although very interesting, is rather poor in number of species and individuals - T Roosevelt

I didn't get to see much mammalian life while in Amazonas, but did see some freshwater dolphins and a sloth.

* * * * * 

South America has the most extensive and most varied avifauna of all the continents. On the other hand, its mammalian fauna, although very interesting, is rather poor in number of species and individuals and in the size of the beasts. It possesses more mammals that are unique and distinctive in type than does any other continent save Australia; and they are of higher and much more varied types than in Australia. But there is nothing approaching the majesty, beauty, and swarming mass of the great mammalian life of Africa and, in a less degree, of tropical Asia; indeed, it does not even approach the similar mammalian life of North America and northern Eurasia, poor though this is compared with the seething vitality of tropical life in the Old World. pp.68-69

From: Through the Brazilian wilderness  (1914) by Theodore Roosevelt



"There are several species of these greedy piranhas" HH Smith #QotD

While touring outside of Manaus, we were taking piranha fishing (catch and release)

* * * * * 

There are several species of these greedy piranhas; this kind is seldom more than ten inches long; but the piranha assu is twice as large, and it makes nothing of biting an ounce or so of flesh from a bather's leg. People are some times killed by the piranhas; hence the Brazilians avoid swimming except where they know that the water is free from them. The fishermen say that piranhas gather in bands against the larger fish; crowding to the attack, they frequently bite each other by mistake ; and the wounded ones are mercilessly set upon and devoured by their companions. Another dangerous fish of these lakes is the stingray, which Hes flat on the bottom, the dark upper surface hardly visible over the mud and roily water. If left undisturbed, the creature is harmless enough, but a careless wader may step on the flat body, and then the great, barbed sting inflicts a wound that benumbs the whole body, and makes the sufferer speechless with pain. I have known a man to be bed-ridden for three months after such a wound; I have known others who were lamed for life. pp. 284-85

From: Brazil, the Amazons and the coast  (1879) by Herbert Huntington Smith (1851-1919)

* * * * * 

We saw men frequently bathing unmolested; but there are places where this is never safe, and in any place if a school of the fish appear swimmers are in danger; and a wounded man or beast is in deadly peril if piranhas are in the neighborhood. Ordinarily it appears that an unwounded man is attacked only by accident. Such accidents are rare; but they happen with sufficient frequency to justify much caution in entering water where piranhas abound. p.86

From: Through the Brazilian wilderness  (1914) by Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The river was expected to furnish its daily quota ... Jules Verne, Eight Hundred Leagues On The Amazon

The river was expected to furnish its daily quota; prawns, which ought rather to be called crawfish; "tambagus," the finest fish in the district, of a flavor superior to that of salmon, to which it is often compared; "pirarucus" with red scales, as large as sturgeons, which when salted are used in great quantities throughout Brazil; “candirus,” awkward to capture, but good to eat; “piranhas,” or devil-fish, striped with red bands, and thirty inches long; turtles large and small, which are counted by millions, and form so large a part of the food of the natives; some of every one of these things it was hoped would figure in turn on the tables of the master and his men.

From Eight Hundred Leagues On The Amazon (1881) by Jules Verne

Fish market at Porto da Ceasa, Manaus, Brazil







The ordinary traveller, who never goes off the beaten route and who on this beaten route ... does not need to show much more initiative and intelligence than an express package - T Roosevelt

Manaus
We must not fall into the foolish error of thinking that the first explorers need not suffer terrible hardships, merely because the ordinary travellers, and even the settlers who come after them, do not have to endure such danger, privation, and wearing fatigue — although the first among the genuine settlers also have to undergo exceedingly trying experiences. The early explorers and adventurers make fairly well-beaten trails at heavy cost to themselves. Ordinary travellers, with little discomfort and no danger, can then traverse these trails; but it is incumbent on them neither to boast of their own experiences nor to misjudge the efforts of the pioneers be cause, thanks to these very efforts, their own lines fall in pleasant places. The ordinary traveller, who never goes off the beaten route and who on this beaten route is carried by others, without himself doing anything or risking anything, does not need to show much more initiative and intelligence than an express package. He does nothing; others do all the work, show all the forethought, take all the risk—and are entitled to all the credit. He and his valise are carried in practically the same fashion; and for each the achievement stands about on the same plane. If this kind of traveller is a writer, he can of course do admirable work, work of the highest value; but the value comes because he is a writer and observer, not because of any particular credit that attaches to him as a traveller. pp. 171-72

From Through the Brazilian wilderness (1914) by Theodore Roosevelt

Nevertheless, tempting as was the prospect of a visit to Brazil, as a mere vacation it had little charm for me - EC & L Ag

Meeting of the Waters
Nevertheless, tempting as was the prospect of a visit to Brazil, as a mere vacation it had little charm for me. Single-handed, I could make slight use of the opportunities I should have; and though the excursion might be a pleasant one for myself, it would have no important result for science. p.v-vii.

* * * * *

The voyage on the Amazons proper has now become accessible to all who are willing to endure heat and mosquitoes for the sake of seeing the greatest river in the world, and the magnificent tropical vegetation along its shores. The best season for the journey is from the close of June to the middle of November, July, August, September, and October being the four driest months of the year, and the most salubrious throughout that region. p. 444

From A Journey in Brazil  (1868) by Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz and Louis Agassiz

"Some far land where endless summer reigns" - Alfred Russel Wallace #QotD

Manaus Airport
An earnest desire to visit a tropical country, to behold the luxuriance of animal and vegetable life said to exist there, and to see with my own eyes all those wonders which I had so much delighted to read of in the narratives of travellers, were the motives that induced me to break through the trammels of business and the ties of home, and start for "Some far land where endless summer reigns." p. xi

* * * * *

I informed him, however, that I was a "Naturalista," and wanted birds, insects, and other animals; and then he began to comprehend, and at last promised to send me some men the day after the next, to carry over my luggage. I accordingly turned back without going to the village, which was still nearly a mile off.  pp. 167-68

From A narrative of travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro by Alfred Russel Wallace (1853) (1889 ed)

Parana do Mamori


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Winners of the Ebbe Nielsen Challenge / presented by @RDMPage #GB23

GBIF 23 Public Symposium

Winners of the Ebbe Nielsen Challenge (presented by Rod Page)

Following the success of the first Ebbe Nielsen Challenge (won by the entry “GBIF dataset metrics” created by Peter Desmet, Bart Aelterman & Nicolas Noé from Belgium) we have launched a second Challenge. This time the challenge is focused on addressing the issue of “gaps and biases in primary biodiversity data”, a topic flagged as being important in the Science Committee report presented at GB 22. See the challenge website.

Honorable Mentions

  • Crowdgap
  • BioGeoBias
  • Towards global-scale species distribution models

Second Prize

  • GBIF Coverage Assessment Tools
  • Sampbias

First Prize

  • Exploring ignorance in space and time


@GBIF 's Priorities and Direction for 2017-2021: Panel 2 #GB23

GBIF 23 Public Symposium

GBIF's Priorities and Direction for 201-2021: Panel 2

Donald Hobern (GBIF Executive Secretary) gave a number of highight from the 2017 Implementation plan. GBIF's role is:

  • Remove obstacles to collaboration in sharing and use of biodiversity data
  • Organize evidence of recorded occurrence of any species in time and space
  • Support development of a global virtual natural history collection

He also outlined the five priorities for 2017-2021 and focused on key elements:
  • Strengthening skills of GBIF participants and the biodiversity community, this includes providing skill sets to new GBIF heads of delegation and node managers
  • Fill data gaps; GBIF needs to identify data sets that appear outside of normal GBIF ingests; what are the technical requirements to make this happen?
  • Support biodiversity assessment; identify the key data variables needed to model biodiversity
Greg Riccardi (iDigBio | U.S.) spoke on mobilizing collections and collections digitization infrastructure in the U.S.; Rui Figueira (Portugal) discussed delivering relevent data, specifically using agrobiodiversity as an example; Néstor Acosta (Ecuador) gave an engaging talk from the perspective of a new GBIF participant. 

Scaling up capacity enhancement, #GB23 panel

Raymond, Escobar, Radji, Heughebart, Wang

GBIF 23 Public Symposium

Scaling up capacity enhancement: BID, BIFA and supplementary funding: Panel 1

Mélianie Raymond (GBIF Secretariat) led a panel about capacity enhancement being done by GBIF. Challenges include expanding network of countries, institutions, and people; rapidly evolving tools and processes; and a small Secretariat team. Raymond then outlined the two key funding tools (BID and BIFA), as well as supplementary funding.

Other panelists were Pierre Radji (Togo), Yu-Huang Wang (TaiBIF), and Dairo Escobar (Colombia). Panelists spoke specifically on how capacity buildg worked in their region or country. André Heughebart (Belgium) provided a view from a mentor.