Well I’m back in town to go get registered with the local police (the final step of our research permit process!), so I thought I would write a quick blog to catch everyone up with what’s been going on out here. The long weekend for the volunteers is coming up, which means that I’ll be able to post a couple more times in the next few days. It’s pretty crazy that the long weekend is already here- that means they are halfway done with their time here, but it still feels like I’ve only been here for a few days.
People are totally settled in at camp and we’ve been able to make some good progress on the volunteers’ research projects. There are 3 students with projects this year, so managing those has kept me and the rest of staff here pretty busy. The first project is exploring the effect of distance from the edge of the forest on butterfly diversity. I haven’t been working on that one too much, but from what I know it sounds really interesting! There are 5 sets of traps placed at different distances from the forest edge, and every day a team goes out to collect data on the abundance and diversity of butterflies in each place. It’s a lot of work but I think the vols are having fun with it.
Another student is looking at the traits of the dominant tree species in the forest. This involves taking data on tree size, root structure, presence of sap, and the characteristics of the leaves. That project spans 23 species of trees, so it’s pretty data intensive, but things have been going quite smoothly. The last project is a survey of the non-tree flora in different areas of the forest to examine how forest degradation affects the ground flora. I’ve been spending most of my time on that project, and it’s been really interesting because now I actually notice the non-tree vegetation while I’m walking through the forest. Fun fact: there are 3 species of pitcher plant at our research site (Nepenthes ampulleria, N. rafflesiana, and N. gracilis, for those of you who are interested) and I am proud to say that I can now identify all of them.
Aaaand finally, tomorrow I’m planning to go scope out the state of the Mega Rice camp. It’s been REALLY wet here- last night we had 47 centimeters of rain- so I’m a little bit nervous to see what it’s like. Trekking in the MRP is difficult enough when it’s dry so I can’t really imagine what it will be like if it’s wet. In Sabangau all of the transects have knee-high puddles of standing water, and if you fall in a hole you may as well just swim home, so it’s possible that the Mega Rice will be wet as well. We shall see…
Okay and as I promised last time, I’m posting some sweet wildlife pictures. I personally haven’t seen a thing aside from plants since I’ve been here but I stole these from Beth Barrow, one of the volunteers. Enjoy!