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The Manu parrotlet (Nannopsittaca dachilleae) or Amazonian parrotlet is a species of parrotlet native to the western Amazon basin, from southern Peru to northwest Bolivia. It is found in lowland forests near bamboo and rivers. It has a stocky build akin to a small Amazon parrot. It has green plumage, with powder-blue lores and forehead, paler yellow-green cheeks and chin.
Taxonomy and naming
The Manu parrotlet was discovered in 1985 by John P. O’Neill, Charles A. Munn, and Irma Franke while exploring the Manú River in the Manú National Park in eastern Peru. The new species was named after the scientists' colleague, conservationist and journalist Barbara D’Achille.
The specific name is from Latin nānus dwarf, from Greek nanos dwarf + Latin psittaca feminine of psittacus parrot, from Greek psittakos parrot; dachilleae a Latinized form of the surname d'Achille, hence the "dwarf parrot of d'Achille".
The upper parts, nape, auriculars, dorsum, tertials, wing covers, rump, upper-tail, and rectrices are bright green. The forehead, anterior crown, and ores are a pale blue. The malar area, breast, belly, and under-tail are a paler more yellowish green. No sexual dimorphism has been described as yet, although this could be because so little is known about the species.
The flock size of the Manu parrotlet is thought to be[who?] between 10 and 20 birds. It is typical that if one bird makes any noise that the whole flock will take flight and will disappear from sight.
The Manu parrotlet is hardly ever spotted on its own; instead it is usually seen in the company the larger parrotlets and parrots of the region. It is common for multiple flocks to gather in the morning to feed. The smallest birds observed in Gilardi and Munn's evaluation traveled in small flocks; this is more comparative to how the larger birds flock. When comparing these findings to those in O’Neill et al.’s study the Manu parrotlet must be unique in how it nest and flocking patterns compared to other small birds.
When the Manu parrotlet is spotted, it is either eating on clay licks or foraging on the ground eating seeds and taking in the mineral deposits left by the river. Many parrots in the Peruvian Forest tend to feed in the early mornings and in the early evenings. Guadua bamboo is common in the Peruvian Forest, and it is common for many of the parrots and parrotlets in this region to feed on the seeds from this bamboo. The Guadua bamboo is important because the rich bamboo forest produce a generous amount of seed, which provides a reliable food source for the birds of the Peruvian Forest.
Another important source of nutrients for the Manu parrotlet is the clay licks along the riverbeds. The popular clay lick in the Manú River is a narrow horizon exposed to a vertical bank. The clay licks are sought after because nutrients are deposited along the river bed walls after being washed down the river. Birds and other herbivores then visit the licks to consume nutrients not easily available elsewhere. Sodium is one that is sought after by many species, and is in abundance on mineral licks. The Manu parrotlet appeared every second or third day about midday with groups of dusky-billed parrotlet (Forpus sclateri), tui parakeet (Brotogeris sanctithomae), and cobalt-winged parakeet (B. cyanoptera), with the Manu parrotlet eating clay for about 30 minutes.
Distribution and habitat
The Peruvian Forest is crucial for the Manu parrotlets and other parrots in this region to thrive. The Manu parrotlet avoids open areas, and the forest provides the shelter, food, and temperature that they need to thrive in. The Guadua bamboo is important to the survival of the Manu parrotlets, it provides the birds with food, as well as a safe shelter and habitat. The Manu National Park is a closed canopy ecosystem, sprawling from Southwestern Peru to Northwestern Bolivia. This park is crucial to the survival of the Manu parrotlet and other species because poaching, logging, and hunting are scarce in this area.
There are many threats to the ecosystem the Manu parrotlet lives in; these include habitat fragmentation, harvesting of the Guana Bamboo, and pollution.
Habitat fragmentation is the process of subdividing a contiguous habitat into smaller pieces (Andren 1994). Habitat fragmentation can be caused by geological processes that slowly change the physical environment or by human activity. Commercial growth in Peru has caused humans to expand where they are living and to infiltrate habitats which many animals rely upon. Habitat fragmentation prevents species from roaming around freely. This can cause many problems, but one of the major problems is that as habitats become more fragmented it may be harder for animals to reproduce. This causes a decline in numbers which makes it difficult for any species to thrive.
Another threat that the Manu parrotlet is facing is that the Guaua Bamboo Forests are quickly decreasing. The Guaua Bamboo is popular because the stalks are extremely strong and make a sturdy shelter to those living in the area. As the popularity of Guaua increases, the threats to the Amazonian parrotlet increase. If the bamboo continues to get harvested, the Amazonian parrotlet will have to find a new shelter and food source. Unfortunately, the montane forest of the Andean region, where more of the woody bamboo species are found, is decreasing at a high rate owing to both natural and anthropogenic disturbances. If the great diversity of the Andean Region with all its utilitarian species and potentially utilitarian species is to be conserved, then some quick actions are required to find solutions that combine legal protection, sustainable development and reforestation of native species.
In South America pollution is also a threat. As mining becomes more popular in countries in the Andes Region, the pollution rates in these areas will go up. "Mercury has been extensively used in South America by Spanish colonizers for precious metal recovery. It is estimated that between 1550 and 1880, nearly 200,000 metric tonnes of mercury was released into the environment. At least 2,000 tonnes of mercury has been released into the environment in the present gold rush”. The modern day gold rush is a concern for the Manu parrotlet. As the pollution and mercury gets washed downstream, deposits are being left on the river banks and on the clay licks. The clay licks are important to the Manu parrotlet, and they feed on clay licks multiple times a day. As more mercury and other pollutants get washed down the water ways and left on the clay licks, more species will be affected and killed.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Nannopsittaca dachilleae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- O'Neill JP, Munn CA, Franke I (1991). "Nannopsittaca dachilleae: a new species of parrotlet from eastern Peru" (PDF). Auk. 108: 225–229.
- Details for D’ACHILLE, BARBARA Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine. Newseum.org. Retrieved on 2013-03-26.
- Gilardi JD, Munn CA (1998). "Patterns of Activity, Flocking, and Habitat Use in Parrots of the Peruvian Amazon". The Condor. 100 (4): 641–53. doi:10.2307/1369745. JSTOR 1369745.
- Kratter, A.W. (1997). "Bamboo Specialization by Amazonian Birds". Biotropica. 29 (1): 100–110. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.1997.tb00011.x.
- Emmons LH, Stark NM (1979). "Elemental Composition of a Natural Mineral Lick in Amazonia". Biotropica. 11 (4): 311–13. doi:10.2307/2387925. JSTOR 2387925.
- Londono X, Peterson PM (1991). "Guadua sarcocarpa (Poaceae: Bambuseae), a New Species of Amazonian Bamboo with Fleshy Fruits". Systematic Botany. 16 (4): 630–38. doi:10.2307/2418866. JSTOR 2418866.
- Malm, Olaf (1998). "Gold Mining as a Source of Mercury Exposure in the Brazilian Amazon". Environmental Research. 77 (2): 73–78. doi:10.1006/enrs.1998.3828. PMID 9600798.