Well, with volunteer season over and the year wrapping up, it would seem that my time here in Borneo is coming to an end. Except for… wait for it… it’s not!
I’ve recently finalized my plans and will be staying here now until May, and transitioning into a slightly different role with OuTrop. We’re going to have some staff changes around here in a couple of months, so for the rest of my time here I’ll be filling the combined role of assistant manager and project scientist. On the managerial side, I’ll be dealing with administrative, financial, and logistical issues relating to the day-to-day workings of the project. On the scientist side… well that remains to be seen! I will be the only non-primate specialist at camp, so I essentially have the opportunity to do any forestry research I want. My main jobs will include wrapping up some old projects, continuing work on current projects (like the seedling planting work we’ve been doing) and thinking about/establishing future research projects for team forestry. Ideally, we would like to come up with a new project that can be completed during the rest of my time here, so the clock is ticking. This month I’m going to do a lot of reading and thinking about possible questions and experimental designs so that when I come back from vacation in January I’ll be able to hit the ground running and start data collection. This will be great both for OuTrop’s forestry research and for me, because then I will have another self-directed research project to my name.
So, it’s time to think of ideas! I’ve got some general themes in mind, but they’re big topics: herbivory, seed dispersal (possibly post-dispersal seed predation?), and the influence of microtopography on species distribution in the forest. If anyone out there reading has good papers on any of these topics, feel free to email them to me- I’ve now lost my university journal access (damn you Columbia for taking it!) so I just have to count on the good will of others to get papers sent my way.
In the meantime, it’s back to camp tomorrow to do a bit of butterfly work and get the newly planted seedlings (all 1,300 of them) measured before the water gets too deep. After that… bring on the data entry!