Research Program

Center for Biodiversity Studies
The Center for Biodiversity Studies (CEB – Centro de Estudos da Biodiversidade in Portuguese) is the research center of the Michelin Ecological Reserve. The CEB staff is responsible for organizing and administering all research activities in the reserve and for ensuring that Michelin’s interests are being upheld. Dr. Kevin M. Flesher is the research manager of the CEB.

Objective of the program
The aim of the research program is to initiate and encourage studies that help promote our understanding of the organisms inhabiting the Atlantic forest of southern Bahia and of the species interactions and natural processes that maintain this highly diverse ecosystem. The reserve offers unique opportunities to study an endangered biome where few scientists have worked before and we invite scientists from all disciplines to work here. Our commitment to intellectual freedom means that we encourage scientists with diverse viewpoints and from any field of the biological, physical or social sciences to submit projects to the CEB.

Mission
Our mission is to contribute to the advancement of science by:

  • Actively participating in and encouraging research on the Bahian Atlantic Forest ecosystem.
  • Providing a field site, infrastructure and support staff where Brazilian and international scientists can pursue their research with a minimum of expense and logistical concerns.
  • Establishing partnerships with individuals and research institutions dedicated to implementing long-term studies and monitoring programs in the reserve.
  • Developing permanent links with Bahian research institutions with a commitment to help advance biological and ecological field research in the state by providing a site for young scientists to launch their careers.

CEB Research Projects
Our principal research focus concerns the effects of human land-use and resource exploitation on the movement, distribution, and persistence of wildlife; recruitment ecology of rainforest trees; natural history; restoration ecology; and causal explanations for hunting, deforestation, and agricultural practices.

Ongoing research

  • The long-term study of the biogeography and ecology of the medium and large mammals, cracid and ramphastid birds, and the tegu lizard (Tupinambis teguixin) in the diverse agroforestry landscapes of the region. This work includes a long-term monitoring program of the reserve’s wildlife.
  • Long-term monitoring of hunting pressure.
  • Long-term monitoring of planted trees in our restoration areas.
  • Conservation status and ecology of the Bahia tapaculo (Eleoscytalopus psychopompus) in the REM and surrounding landscapes.
  • The fruiting phenology of rainforest plants

Applying for permission to conduct research in the reserve
We have the budget and personnel to support 10-15 projects each year with approximately 5-8 openings each year. We seek scientists who are of an independent nature, enjoy spending a good deal of time in the forest, and whose research has a strong field component.

In order to work in the reserve, we require that researchers submit an electronic copy of their proposal. Please follow the format below when submitting an application. If you already have a detailed proposal written, you may submit it instead. A clearly stated objective and a detailed methods section are obligatory, but please do not include any general background information on the Atlantic Forest in the introduction. The proposal should include:

  1. Title of the project.
  2. Principal investigator (must be the person leading the fieldwork) and email address.
  3. Number of research assistants and the degree of their participation.
  4. Institution for which or under which the research is being conducted.
  5. Primary objective of the study, however narrow the focus, with a brief justification explaining why you believe it is important (personal reasons are acceptable). There is no need to justify your research in terms of intended applications for conservation.
  6. Explicit methods section.
  7. If any biological material needs to be collected, list exactly what you plan on collecting, the number of samples, the destination of the material, the permits needed, and when you expect the permits to be available. If you already have the permits, send copies with the application; if not, we will need to have copies before the study begins.
  8. Schedule for completing the fieldwork, analysis, and degree and/or publications.
  9. Expected publications (how many and in which journals).
  10. For non-Brazilian citizens, please provide a copy of your research visa and CNPq authorization. If this is not possible at the time you submit this proposal, then we will need a copy of these documents before you begin your fieldwork.
  11. Resume.

Commitment to publish
We expect scientists working in the reserve to publish the results of their research and a commitment to do so will be an important criterion in determining who will be invited to work here. Scientist are required to send an electronic copy (PDF) of all final research results whether they be articles published, reports and/or theses resulting from research conducted in the reserve shortly after they are published or completed. Please send these documents to the reserve director.

Proof of research permits
We expect researchers to know which documents are required by Brazilian law and to have obtained them before beginning fieldwork. We will need proof of research visas and/or permits for collecting, trapping, radio-collaring or any other direct interactions between the scientist and the organisms studied as required by Brazilian law. We realize that applying for research visas and/or permits is often not possible without an approved project, so we do not expect the proof submitted with the initial application, but only before the project begins. The Brazilian laws are both specific and strict, so applicants are advised to consider the implications of the legislation for their projects (this is especially relevant for foreign graduate students). We will provide cover letters for approved projects when they are necessary to apply for visas/permits.

Cooperative Partnership Documents
All studies conducted in the reserve must be legalized through agreements between Michelin and the institution responsible for the study, specifying the details of the partnership, the services offered, and the responsibilities accrued by each. The drafting of these documents must be done according to the Brazilian legal exigencies and we will explain this procedure at the time the proposal is approved.

Deadlines
All research proposals should be submitted between November 1 and December 31 of each year. Research application notifications will be emailed to recipients by the end of January. If for some reason you cannot meet the deadlines but want to conduct research in the reserve, contact the reserve director and explain your case. In the case of rapid collecting studies (generally one time visits), scientists should contact us at least a month in advance and should send copies of their collecting permits with their request.

Submit proposals electronically to:

Dr. Kevin Flesher,
kevinmflesher@yahoo.com.br

Reserve address
Reserva Ecológica Michelin
Rodovia Ituberá/Camamu, Km 05
45443-000 Igrapiúna – BA