BFREE  works to promote and facilitate permitted scientific research in the Bladen Nature Reserve and other neighboring protected areas.

Early scientific exploration in the upper Bladen watershed generally was descriptive, short-term, and restricted to the dry season. Since the establishment of the BFREE field station, researchers have year-round access to remote and undisturbed research sites. Biological inventories for several taxa exist, and a number of long-term and quantitative studies have been undertaken.

Emily Buege and Melito Bustamante during their cichlid study.

    Emily Buege and Melito Bustamante during Buege’s cichlid study.

Goals for Research at BFREE:

  • • Contribute to the body of knowledge pertaining to Belize’s biodiversity
  • • Provide information for improved management of protected areas
  • • Increase awareness of Bladen Nature Reserve & other protected areas
  • • Create a local research culture with with Belizeans implementing and leading scientific research
  • • Promote excitement and discovery
  • • Advocate for protection and sustainable use of natural resources
  • • Make information available to those interested


Resources for Researchers:

We offer basic, comfortable living and research facilities and access to a diverse array of potential study sites. Also, BFREE maintains a number of scientific resources, including the Rainforest Lab, the Dora Weyer Natural History Library, reference biological collections, equipment, and daily onsite weather measurements since 1997.

Rainforest Science Cooperative Laboratory

This lab, completed in 2011, was a joint effort between BFREE and Lincoln Memorial University. The lab provides a work space and specimen storage area for visiting researchers and students and is equipped with microscopes, a refrigerator, as well as other essentials.

All researchers must review and sign the Lab Use Agreement prior to their arrival at BFREE. For information about completing research at BFREE contact Jacob Marlin at

Dora Weyer Natural History Library

Named in honor of one of Belize’s pioneer conservationists, BFREE’s steadily expanding, (multi-media) library is particularly strong in tropical forest and plant ecology, Belizean natural history, and herpetology. All reports completed at BFREE and in the adjacent Bladen Nature Reserve are available to students and researchers, as well as:

  • •Field guides to the local flora and fauna
  • • Local and national topographic, soils, and vegetation maps
  • •Research expedition reports
  • •PhD dissertations and masters theses
  • •Independent study projects and intern reports
  • •Numerous relevant journal article reprints
  • •Audio recordings local bird, mammal, and frog sounds


BFREE stores a hodgepodge of basic research and mechanical equipment that may be borrowed or rented by visiting students and researchers, depending on the intended use and duration. In general, if a piece of equipment is crucial to your research, you should count on bringing your own. Bring two, for that matter, and consider making a material donation to BFREE when your research is inactive or concluded!