Martina Snášelová

During the summer 2017 two of my colleagues and I received a grant to collect data, for our master thesis, in Peru. We stayed there from June to September, and those four months are among the most rewarding experiences I have had.

The destination of our visit was the city of Pucallpa, one of the largest cities in the Peruvian Amazon, located on the borders of the jungle. We received accommodation at the university campus of Universidad Nacional de Ucayali (UNU) in a small comfortable house, which they had built for Czech students in the past. In my thesis I will try to evaluate suitable habitats for the major cacao pollinators in the Peruvian Amazon agroforests. With the help of ACATPA (the association of farmers, who grow cacao in agroforestry systems), we selected three different cacao agroforestry systems close to San Alejandro,a small town located about 100 km from Pucallpa. There I had the chance to observe and study the structure of vegetation, diversity of trees and other plot characteristics such as soil cover, shade cover and humidity. Another part was to find differences in the quantity and quality of a potential breeding substrate for midges, pollinators of the cacao plant. In parallel I collected insects (using traps), to assess the differences in abundance and diversity of pollinators in various habitats. During my stay I carried out three trapping sessions, and was able to collect sufficient samples for comparison. In my free time I had the chance to go on small trips with my colleagues and to explore the surroundings of Pucallpa. We visited the Forest Experimental Station of UNU, which is the primary experimental forest of UNU. We also travelled to a hot spring, hidden in the middle of the jungle.

It was a very intensive time full of new experiences. Not only did I acquire a lot of new knowledge related to my studies, but I also got to know a lot about a completely different culture and their habits and had the opportunity to see the real amazon jungle with all its amazing diversity of plants and animals.

I am very grateful to our university for giving us this chance, and I would definitely recommend going to Peru, no matter if just for travel, or to study its beautiful nature.

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