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viernes, 8 de abril de 2011

Introducing Luke

Hello to everyone,
My name is Luke and I am one of the recently appointed research scientists here at Laguna Blanca. I am also the intern coordinator and advisor. This first blog is a bit of an introduction about me and also what plans we have for the coming months concerning new projects at the site.

I am interested in all aspects of wildlife and natural habitats. However my research background is rooted in studying behavioural and biological aspects of social, group-living animals. Specifically im interested in individual strategies within multi-male/multi-female groups and how these strategies affect individual fitness and reproductive success. I am particularly focused on adult female reproductive, socio-sexual, and dyadic associative behaviour. More recently I have been combining these behavioural interests with the broader theoretical areas of Social Network Theory/analysis and Biological Market Theory.

I arrived at Laguna Blanca on March 23. The people who originally set up the site have done an excellent job. For a long term researcher such as myself this site provides an excellent platform to comfortably conduct projects, as well as offering the opportunity to have some fun and relax when not working. I have particularly enjoyed my daily dip in the crystal clear lake, which is on our doorstep.
Since arriving I have begun setting up the preliminary stages of three new projects we are planning to launch:

1. Social and ecological factors among Clyomys laticeps (broad-headed spiny rat).
These nocturnal and group-living rodents thrives in underground burrow systems on the Cerrado. Virtually nothing is known about these animals but there are already suspicions that they may be a keystone species of that habitat.

2. Grouping behaviour among Cyanocorax chrysops (plush-crested jays).
Plush-crested jays are a social bird species that inhabit Laguna Blanca. Recently question marks have been raised over what social system these animals are actually practicing. A previous volunteer observed groups for a short period and reported that group individuals appeared to be changing throughout the day. If indeed this species is practicing a fission-fusion social system then there is great opportunity for a multitude of long and short term studies into the socio-biology and behaviour of these animals that could provide useful information for the wider zoological and scientific community.

3. The Laguna Blanca brown capuchin project
This long term project will provide opportunity for volunteers and interns to gain firsthand experience studying and observing wild primates. The project will offer opportunity for study in a wide variety of behavioural and ecological areas as well as learning useful field techniques for collecting scientific data.

Ok, that’s all for now. I look forward to hopefully meeting some of you potential volunteers and interns in the near future.

Best wishes,
Luke Ward
Research Scientist and Intern Coordinator