Fabio Schunck


Original photo: Giulyana Althmann Benedicto

I graduated in biology from the University of Santo Amaro-UNISA, in 2001, specializing in the field of Ornithology, with a study of the birds of the Island of Eucalyptus (Ilha dos Eucaliptos), located at the Guarapiranga reservoir in southern São Paulo city. In 2002, I took a specialized course in eco-tourism at the Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade (FUNBIO) in Linhares Espirito Santo  (Vale do Rio Doce ecological reserve) and worked as a consultant on eco-tourism for the Conservation International Brazil for 6 months on the farms and inns in the region of Nhecolândia (Rio Negro farm), located in the southern Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul state. In the Pantanal I followed surveys with the most varied groups (vertebrates, invertebrates and plants) and met some ornithologists and photographers. In 2003 and 2004 I worked for the Instituto de Biologia da Consevação (IBC), in partnership with the Universidade Estadual Paulista-UNESP (Rio Claro Campus) and Loro Parque Fundación (Spain) on a scientific conservation project for the threatened Red-tailed-Parrot (Amazona brasiliensis) in southern coastal São Paulo.

In 2004, I began to collaborate as an ornithologist in the bird section of the Museum of Zoology of the University of São Paulo-MZUSP and in the ornithology laboratory of the Zoology Department of Biosciences Institute at the University of São Paulo. Between 2014 and 2019 I developed my doctorate for this postgraduate program on the birds of the mountains of Brazil, with emphasis on the Serra do Mar (Atlantic Forest).

Between 2003 and 2014 I implemented and participated in various field expeditions and ornithological studies in diverse Brazilian biomes, mainly in the Atlantic forest and the Amazon, where I participated in several biogeographic, phylogeographic and taxonomic research projects through the MZUSP, including personal projects and in collaboration with other institutions and researchers. Since 2004 I have been monitoring the passage of Nearctic migratory birds (shorebirds) and waterfowl in some flooded areas around the city of São Paulo, mainly around Guarapiranga reservoir, where I live.

I have acted as a guest consultant in workshops aimed at the conservation of birds of Brazil, promoted by the Ministry of the Environment (plans of action for parrots and migratory birds) and by the Ministry of Environment of São Paulo (list of endangered birds of São Paulo), in addition to events, courses, and lectures. Recently, I have had the opportunity to collaborate in several scientific papers, including the description of six new species of birds from Amazonian Brazil, published in 2013 in a special edition of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain).

I consider fieldwork, scientific and professional collection, banding, recording of vocalizations, and photography (among other methods) as important tools employed in quality research that can contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of bird species in regions still little studied, potentially helping to generate grants for conservation.

Photography has been a major interest for me since I was a kid, when I took my dad’s camera to photograph the family during the holidays, but it was in college that I bought my first reflex camera (Nikon FE2) and a 300 mm lens. I benefitted from some basic photography courses in São Paulo, but it was in the Pantanal that I have really learned to shoot in the field, from canoes and boats, on top of jeeps, small planes, and even horseback. In 2002 and 2003 I had the opportunity to do internship in the old section of Photocinematography in the Zoo of São Paulo, where I learned a lot with the photographer Glória Jafet. I have done photo exhibitions in São Paulo, Fernando de Noronha and even in Japan, with a variety of themes, but mainly illustrating fauna, flora and traditional communities of Brazil. I have published images on websites, in books, and in technical reports.

Occasionally I teach theoretical and field courses, mainly about bird photography in natural habitats with an emphasis on photographic techniques. I have a database with about 50.000 images of Brazil. Photography has always been part of my life and part of my job, because documentation is one of the basic principles of science, especially in ornithology. I use photography as a way to register the data of my research and the beauty found in everyday life, whether in the city of São Paulo or in isolated regions of Brazil.

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