An integral part of BFREE's mission is the support and facilitation of scientific research in the Maya Mountains, particularly the Bladen Nature Reserve. BFREE spans 1153 acres situated amidst four national protected areas--a location that offers access to large expanses of tropical wet forest. From the comfort of the BFREE field camp researchers are within minutes of numerous diverse habitat types--mature and disturbed floodplain forest, calcareous and volcanic plant communities, tropical pine savanna, thicket, wetlands, and the Bladen River. BFREE's newly established presence in the vast forested matrix of the Maya Mountains spells unparalleled research opportunity.
BFREE has spearheaded amphibian research and monitoring in the Maya Mountains as a participant in the Maya Forest Anuran Monitoring Project. The project relies on resident biologists to conduct frog vocalization surveys at multiple aquatic habitats during the wet season.
The project recently expanded with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force, allowing investigation of terrestrially-oriented and non-vocalizing species (such as frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus and Plethodontid salamanders). New methods are also being tested and validated.
The data collected at BFREE is particularly relevant and useful in light of recent global concern over amphibian population declines in supposedly undisturbed environments. The wild character of its environs and its high amphibian diversity (21 species in eight families) makes BFREE an ideal site for long-term amphibian monitoring.
Standardized weather observations have been recorded consistently at BFREE since January 1997. Daily observations include minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation amount. Seasonal fluctuation in precipitation is dramatic, with the wet season occurring during the latter half of the year. On average, BFREE receives 2500 mm of rain per year and ¾ falls between June and October. Temperatures are more stable throughout the year. However, a warmer period in April and May precedes the wet season, while temperatures are lowest in December and January.
Weather data are available for download by year in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. BFREE also shares its weather data with the National Meteorological Service of Belize.
A number of other projects have been based out of the BFREE facility including bird studies by the Smithsonian Institute, dissertation studies of forest communities (Brewer and Rejmanek 1999; Brewer in press; Brewer and Webb in press), and studies of riverine habitat and biota (Esselman in prep.).
Bateson, J.H. and I.H.S. Hall. 1976. The Geology of the Maya Mountains, Belize. Overseas Memoir 3, Institute of Geological Science, London.
Bateson, J.H. 1972. New interpretation of geology of Maya Mountain, British Honduras. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 56: 956-963.
Brewer, S.W. In press. Predation and dispersal of large and small seeds of Astrocaryum mexicanum. Oikos.
Brewer, S.W. and M. Rejmanek. 1999. Small rodents as significant dispersers of tree seeds in a Neotropical forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 10:165-174.
Brewer,S.W. and M.A.H. Webb. In press. Ignorant seed predators and factors affecting the postdispersal seed survival of the tropical palm Astrocaryum mexicanum. Oikos.
Brokaw, N.V.L. and T. Lloyd-Evans. 1987. The Bladen Branch Wilderness. Manomet Bird Observatory, Manomet, Massachusetts.
Esselman, P.C. In prep. Physical Habitat Variation and Fish Community Structure in the Monkey River, Belize. M.S. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
Iremonger, S. and R. Sayre. 1994. A Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Bladen Nature Reserve, Belize. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia.
Wright, A.C.S., D.H. Romney, R.H. Arbuckle, and D.E. Vial. 1959. Land in British Honduras: Report of the British Honduras Land Use Survey Team. Colonial Research Publication No. 24. Her Majesty's Stationary Office, London.