General Policies and Guidelines for Research at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station
The Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador and the Advisory Board of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station have the last word in decisions involving all research performed at the site. As an official representative of the Ministry of the Environment in the Yasuní region, we shall comply with and ensure that others comply with regulations associated with research and collection of specimens. We reserve the right to grant or deny access to any institution, organization, university, individual, or group. Our regulations have been designed to be compatible with national Ecuadorian requirements but we must point out that modifications often accompany changes in governmental administrations so please confirm the latest updates before submitting a proposal.
Policies concerning researchers and their activities at TBS
All visitors or residents are required to cooperate with the general operation and conservation philosophies and strategies of TBS. All scientists are invited to suggest improvements for the station.
All researchers agree to follow strictly the stipulations and restrictions that are required by TBS administration and other supervisory bodies. It is understood that noncompliance may result in expulsion from the site and in flagrant cases, this could include fines imposed by TBS or by the Ecuadorian government.
All studies should include a national Ecuadorian counterpart. Budget allowances should be made to cover expenses for this person.
All researchers must read and understand the policies for our staff and agree not to ask workers to break rules for any purpose. Rules have been designed and explained to our staff with the purposes of conservation and efficiency. No researcher may hire directly a TBS staff member or other person who is not a student or professional scientist as a field assistant without prior approval of TBS.
Whenever there is a necessity for such assistance, this must be arranged through or discussed with TBS administrators. All researchers must be willing to give informal presentations at TBS and/or USFQ concerning their studies to students or workshop groups. In order to improve our library, we ask that researchers donate to the Station a copy (preferably as pdfs) of a few scientific articles pertinent to their own research.
All publications or work resulting from research at TBS are required to include the name of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
All researchers promise to make available to TBS, USFQ and the Ministry of the Environment 5 copies of any publication or other body of work, thesis or dissertation (printed, video-taped, filmed, photographed, or recorded) resulting from research done at TBS at no monetary charge.
All visitors must have and carry a current and valid record of a yellow fever vaccination, preferably a World Health Organization (WHO) card and are recommended to take some anti-malarial prophylaxis. All visitors assume full responsibility for their own health and well being during their time at TBS and during travel to and from the station. Visitors accept that TBS and USFQ/CPU assume no liability whatsoever for illness, injury or death while involved in activities associated with TBS.
Policies concerning establishment and maintenance of transects, plots, or quadrats for analysis
We will not have trails established for each and every project that is carried out at TBS. Before starting to make any trail system or other access route for any area, the directors of the station must be taken to the site by the scientist(s) involved to discuss the possible impacts of the planned development. The same policy applies to any structure that is to be built on our lands as well. In general, constructions on TBS properties legally come to belong to TBS.
The marking of any individual, plant, site, transect, plot, or quadrat must be done in an approved manner that is not distractive for other researchers or visitors and in most cases, must not be permanent. We insist on minimizing the use of standard flagging tape as it tends to proliferate wherever scientists occur. In all cases, it is the direct responsibility of each researcher to remove all such marks upon conclusion of any study. It is absolutely forbidden to use flagging tape on trails within 100 meters of camp. Leaving unapproved marks after the conclusion of any study will result in a fine based on the rate of US$10 per mark.
Policies concerning capture and collection of specimens
Organisms protected by CITES are further protected by TBS. The capture of any animal for the taking of samples of blood, hair, feathers, other tissues, secretions, excretions, or parasites will be subject to regulation by the administration of TBS and any appropriate governing body. No collections simply for the purpose of developing museum collections will be approved.
Leaving traps or mist nets improperly attended may result in fines and/or expulsion from TBS. Whenever possible, TBS staff will aid in determining legal aspects of research and collections and in acquisition of ministerial permits for those activities and for exportation. All stipulations for each study can be found on the permit provided by the Ministry; each investigator is responsible for understanding and complying with the details included in this official document.
If collections are necessary, it is preferable that a voucher specimen or some duplicate be deposited at TBS or with USFQ. In some cases, it is required by governmental regulation that a voucher specimen be deposited in the National Herbarium or Museum of Natural Sciences. It is not acceptable to take living or dead specimens from TBS without prior special approval by TBS and by the Ministry of the Environment.
For mammals, birds, reptiles and adult amphibians, a list of potential collections must include scientific names of the species to be taken and the number of each that is considered necessary. For fishes and larval amphibians, probable number of collections and type of gear must be previously approved and the collection must be made within ethical bounds. Most groups of invertebrates can be approved for collection only upon approval of collection methods and estimates of numbers for each of the target taxa. Proposed plant collections must include a list of genera to be collected plus the number of specimens to be collected per genus.
A governmental permit to perform investigations or to make collections does not provide for legal exportation of specimens. Scientists wishing to export specimens must specifically apply for such permission separately. TBS can supply pertinent information for this process. Exportation of specimens (for whatever purpose, including identification through comparison with specimens in established museum collections) is typically permitted only on a temporary basis.
In any mark-recapture study, the kind of marks to be employed will be evaluated based on the degree of necessity and humane treatment of study subjects. The use of electronic tracking devices of any kind must also be approved according to similar criteria.
Studies of captive animals
Depending upon the organism, time of maintenance in captivity as well as other questions of animal health, welfare and humane treatment, evaluations will be made on a per case basis and will generally be approved only under very strict considerations. In cases where an overseeing board has approved study methods in the scientist's country of origin, a copy of their approval is also acceptable.
Plants, including fungi, lichens and algae
Basically voucher specimens may be taken for identification to species level. Usually specimens may only be exported when they cannot be identified in Ecuador. In most cases, voucher specimens must be deposited in the National Herbarium. Subsequent to this deposition, arrangements can usually be made to loan those specimens to the original collector. Two good-quality photocopies of a standard representative pressed specimen of each species including the label should be made available for the station. A catalog record of National Herbarium specimens with registered numbers collected at TBS must be deposited at TBS or USFQ.
Insects and other invertebrates
Most collections that are well justified scientifically will be permitted with moderate limitations placed on quantity of individuals and some restrictions on specific taxonomic groups on a case by case basis. In many instances, greater scrutiny will be exercised for collection methods than for expected collection results.
Most small species may be collected in reasonable quantities for population studies but larger species will be subject to greater restrictions in general but evaluated on a per case basis. Restrictions may be expected on the type of collection gear employed due to the fact that some net types can be detrimental to a spectrum of aquatic animal populations that is considered to be excessively broad.
For most species, collection will be restricted to a minimal number of individuals be they larvae or adults but judgments will be made on a per case basis.
For snakes, collection of no more than one voucher specimen per species will be permitted. No individual of a total length of greater than 2 meters may be taken as a museum specimen. For lizards, collection will generally be restricted to a few individuals but may be disallowed completely, particularly for well-studied large species. For all caiman species, no museum specimens may be taken. In general, collection of specimens of turtles will be highly restricted.
Standard banding procedures are acceptable in general but numbers of individuals and areas of capture may be restricted by TBS administration. The collection of museum specimens will only be possible in special cases that are previously approved.
In general, no mammal species that attains a size of more than 1 kg may be collected solely for the purpose of obtaining a museum specimen. Small mammals such as rodents and bats and some marsupials may be collected for specific identification but under very strict regulation that will be determined on a per case basis. Under no circumstances will any giant armadillos, sloths, tamanduas, giant anteaters, primates, manatees, dolphins, deer, peccaries, cats, dogs, mustelids, capybaras, or tapirs be approved for collection. With special approval, these animals may be captured, studied, marked, and blood or other tissue samples taken as well as samples of excretions, secretions or parasites but the animal must be released subsequently.