Unlocking Amazon's Ecological Wonders: Mineral Licks and Animal Minerals Dispersing

Ethan Duvall, a PhD candidate at Cornell University, taking notes about mineral licks.

Ph: Naia Andrade

Ethan Duvall, a PhD candidate at Cornell University, accompanied by Naia Andrade Hoeneisen, a USFQ undergraduate researcher, are spending the summer at TBS studying the ecological importance of mineral licks (saladeros) – areas of the rainforest that large herbivores (tapirs, monkeys, etc.) visit to consume mineral-rich soil and water. They are working to understand how these mineral hotspots form, how they contribute to animal nutrition, and the role of animals in dispersing minerals away from these important areas.  

Their field work entails long days of sampling plants, soils, water, and other materials to measure the distribution and availability of nutrients throughout the forest, mapping hydrologic attributes (streams, basins) around the saladeros, and analyzing animal behaviour at saladeros using camera-trapping techniques. Their main report: living the dream!