Irene and Alan
Irene Engilis and Alan Hitch preparing mammal specimens in Chile

The Fray Jorge Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research site (LTSER) is NSF-funded and one of the longest running, continuous drylands research programs in the world. Located in Bosque Fray Jorge National Park, Coquimbo District, Chile, the Fray Jorge LTSER started in 1989, is still active, and has become a sentinel site for monitoring effects of resource variability, climate change, and extreme climatic events on diverse groups including plants, small mammals, and their predators, and more recently arthropods and songbirds. Initially spearheaded by Dr. Peter Meserve (now retired), it is now coordinated by Dr. Douglas Kelt in our department. In 2005, our curator Andy Engilis helped design and start avian surveys and monitoring in Fray Jorge, which have been maintained primarily by trained Chilean staff at Fray Jorge for 15 years. The goal was to assess abiotic influences on birds in the park. 


Edith and Mary
Edith Jovel and Mary Chambers with a Tufted Tit-Tyrant

In 2008, Engilis and Kelt recognized the need to develop methods to assess avian productivity for potential future research. The Museum collaborated with the Institute for Bird Populations (Peter Pyle) and launched research to develop a banding manual to properly age and sex Chilean birds in the park; an essential need to provide productivity estimates for birds. Aging and demographic information were not available for South American Birds, and so this was the first project of its kind. Through specimen-based research, Pyle and Engilis examined hundreds of specimens to determine age and sex criteria for the most abundant species of the park, and the team developed the first manual of its kind for South American birds.  Museum researchers tested the manual in the Fray Jorge NP through the 2013 breeding season prior to being published in 2018.  

Chile in NSF Research News


Engilis, Jr., A. and D. A. Kelt. Foraging Behavior of Tufted Tit-Tyrants (Anairetes parulus) in Semiarid Northcentral Chile. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 2009; Vol. 121, No. 3: 585-592.

Engilis, Jr., A. and D. A. Kelt. Foraging behavior of plain-mantled tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura aegithaloides) in semiarid matorral, North-Central Chile. Ornitologia Neotropical. 2011; Vol. 22: 247–256.

Gutiérrez, J. R., Meserve, P. L., Kelt, D. A., Engilis, Jr., A., Previtali, M. A., Milstead, W. B., and Jaksic, F. M. Long-term research in Bosque Fray Jorge National Park: Twenty years studying the role of biotic and abiotic factors in a Chilean semiarid scrubland. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural. 2010; Vol. 83: 69-98.

Kelt, D. A., Cofré, H., Cornelius, C., Engilis, Jr., A., Gutiérrez, J. R., Marquet, P. A., Medel, R., Meserve, P. L., Quirici, V., Samaniego, H., and Vásquez, R. A. The avifauna of Bosque Fray Jorge National Park and Chile's Norte Chico. Journal of Arid Environments. 2016; Vol. 126: 23-36.

Kelt, D. A., Engilis, Jr., A., Torres, I. E., and Hitch, A. T. Ecologically Significant Range Extension for the Chilean Tree Mouse, Irenomys tarsalis. Mastozoología Neotropical. 2018; Vol. 15, No. 1: 125-128.

Kelt, D. A., Engilis, Jr., A., Mondárez, J., Walsh, R., Meserve, P. L., and Gutiérrez, J. R. Seasonal and Multiannual Patterns in Avian Assemblage Structure and Composition in Northern Chilean Thorn-Scrub. The Condor. 2012; Vol. 114, No. 1: 30-43.

Pyle, P., Engilis, Jr., A., and Kelt, D. A. Manual for Ageing and Sexing the Landbirds of Bosque Fray Jorge National Park and North-central Chile, with Notes on Occurrence and Breeding Seasonality. Special Publication of the Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science. 2015.

Pyle, P., Engilis, Jr., A., and Kelt, D. A. Manual para Estimar Edad y Sexo de Aves Terrestres del Parque Nacional Bosque Fray Jorge y Chile Central, con Notas sobre Rangos de Distribución y Estación Reproductiva. Special Publication of the Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science. 2015.