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Story Publication logo September 5, 2022

Research in the Amazon Resumes After Hiatus During the Pandemic (Portuguese)

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Unable to be in the field to collect information, some researchers have lost precious data for their...

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit National Geographic. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


Scientists from the National Institute of Amazonian Research have returned to the field to rescue lost information, compose new scenarios, create questions, and draw futures about the largest tropical forest in the world.

Amazonas was one of the Brazilian states most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 600,000 cases, 14,000 deaths, and the epicenter of two severe epidemic waves. However, the pandemic period did not prevent criminal actions that caused the highest rate of deforestation in the Legal Amazon in 15 years, according to the Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon. The loss of vegetation in the Amazon state represented the worst variation in the biome, with a 50% increase from August 2021 to July 2022.

Scientific work in the field was paralyzed for two years at the National Institute for Amazon Research (Inpa), located in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas. During this period, the researchers at Inpa, one of the largest centers of science in the biome, felt the loss of people who had dedicated years and passion to studying the forest's biodiversity, such as the death of the agronomist and former director of the institute, Enéas Salati, in February this year.


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The impossibility of going into the field for health reasons has opened a huge question mark over the continuity of the studies, the absence of information in the period, and even the loss of sponsorship and support. Some data that could only be collected in situ will be unrecoverable. However, in this period there have been a number of discoveries from materials already collected, an alternative of science during the pandemic seclusion.

In the second quarter of this year, Inpa researchers began to restructure their work, continue their research, review studies, and understand the ways to recover the break in the sequence of data production.


The impact of the pandemic in Manaus, capital of Amazonas, also affected scientific production at the National Institute for Amazon Research. View from the top of the tower of the Museum of Amazonia, in Inpa's Botanical Garden. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Amazonian manatees in a tank at the Bosque da Ciência, at the National Institute for Amazon Research, in Manaus (AM). Coordinated by Vera da Silva, the Aquatic Mammals of the Amazon project works on the process of adaptation and reintroduction to nature. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Pink river dolphin in the Negro River, in the region of the municipality of Iranduba (AM). This river dolphin is endemic to the Amazon and is also known as red dolphin, white dolphin, Iara, and uiara. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Vera da Silva, a researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research since 1981, has resumed her three-decade monitoring of the pink river dolphins. The scientist follows the dolphins that inhabit the region of the Balbina Hydroelectric Power Plant, in the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo (AM). Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Inaugurated in 1989, the Balbina Hydroelectric Power Plant dams the Uatumã river. A lake is formed during the flood period, inhabited by iconic Amazon species, such as the pink river dolphin. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Rio Negro and the islands of Anavilhanas, an archipelago consisting of approximately 400 islands, protected by a conservation unit. The region is 100 kilometers from Manaus, capital of Amazonas. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Two years after the discovery, ornithologist Mario Cohn-Haft resumed his studies of the blue swallow's stay on an island in the Negro river — a nursery for migratory birds. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Climber José Adailton da Silva collects samples of botanical material in the canopy of Amazonian trees, at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, in Rio Preto da Eva (AM). Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Biologist Francisco Farroñay herborizes a sample of botanical material collected during fieldwork at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, in Rio Preto da Eva (AM). The procedure is done for conservation in the herbarium of the National Institute for Amazon Research. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Beetles of the genus Coleoptera in the Invertebrate Collection of the National Institute for Amazon Research. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Amazonian bees of the species Exaerete frontalis in the Invertebrate Collection of the National Institute for Amazon Research. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

Entomologist Marcio Luiz de Oliveira observes details of an insect under a microscope. The researcher coordinates the Invertebrate Collection of the National Institute for Amazon Research. Image by André Dib/National Geographic. Brazil, 2022.

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