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jueves, 26 de mayo de 2011

Bird talk, spider catching, and tattoos

This month saw the return of Fatima, one of our Paraguayan Interns, and the arrival of two volunteers, Pete and Dafna.
Fatima is assessing the abundance and diversity of arachnids within the different habitats of the reserve. She has made good progress and is producing some interesting specimens. Her project will provide the first evidence and information on spiders at Laguna Blanca.

Behaviour among Cyanocorax chrysops (plush-crested jays).

This month good progress has been made with the plush-crested jays. In collaboration with our scientific director Paul Smith, I have finalised the methodology and objectives for this study over the short and long term. Currently we are in the process of producing the very first description of the behavioural and vocal repertoire of this intriguing social bird. Over the next few weeks I will attempt to catch and attach leg rings to individuals. By achieving this we will then be able to get to know the individuals within the groups and assess how their behaviours differ, and importantly why they differ. Pete and Dafna provided some useful assistance in the field when searching for and observing the group.

The Laguna Blanca brown capuchin project

A trail system within the monkey’s home range has now been started. I have also conducted a thorough assessment of the forest in which they inhabit. Hopefully we will have more than one group to study within the reserve. A previous researcher, Jon Smit, generously provided me with a detailed map of where he has sighted the capuchins. This information will be helpful when deciding on where to lay trails.

Social and ecological factors among Clyomys laticeps (broad-headed spiny rat).

This month I and Project Coordinator Karina Atkinson made the decision to switch to a new method of marking the small mammals we trap and release. We have switched to a tattoo method. Not only is this vastly better value for money compared to our current microchip method, but it is also significantly less invasive. It will also allow us to successfully and easily mark species that have previously proven very problematic. One of these species is Clyomys laticeps.
After a short break my Clyomys project will resume on arrival of our new marking equipment. We are also considering combining previous trapping data, both from Karina’s project and our outside collaborator Robert Owen. This will hopefully broaden the study and add a comparative aspect.

This month I also went on a long kayak ride to the other side of the lake. Exhausting but enjoyable!

Until next month, all the best

Luke A. Ward
Research Scientist and Intern Coordinator

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