Although this initial period has flown by, some encouraging progress has been made here at Laguna Blanca.
This month saw Rodrigo and Johanna, interns from Asuncion University, launch their thesis projects. They will be assessing the abundance and diversity of reptiles and herps between and within the four distinct habitat types we enjoy here at the reserve. They have made good progress in installing some pitfall traps in each of their study habitats, as well as marking out some of their survey areas. Already they have had some capturing success. At the end of this month we will welcome two new interns who will also begin some interesting research (more on that next month).
New projects at Laguna Blanca
1. Social and ecological factors among Clyomys laticeps (broad-headed spiny rat).
This month I completed the first phase of this investigatory project into this little known cerrado rat. Data has been collected on the ecology, structure, and locations of their ground burrows that they dwell in. Some preliminary analyses have already produced some interested results. For the coming month I will begin to execute the second phase – trapping. Through this method valuable data will be gained on a number of social and sexual areas – all of which have no current information.
The progress I have achieved with this new project would not be anywhere near where it is without the enthusiastic assistance provided by our recently departed volunteers – Sarah Kada and Aurelien Boutigny. They learnt quickly, worked hard, and were meticulous in their approach. They were both outstanding and truly represent why volunteers are so valuable for the progression of Para la Tierra.
2. Grouping behaviour among Cyanocorax chrysops (plush-crested jays).
Group locations have been recorded for these birds and data collection on this intelligent, yet poorly understood species, will commence this month.
3. The Laguna Blanca brown capuchin project
Forest mapping and group spotting will begin this month. It’s high time these monkeys met me!
For the last few days we have been experiencing an unusual cool spell for this time year. Temperatures dropped as low as 9oC during the day. Needless to say - as we are used to warm sunshine - hats, gloves, scarves, multiple sweaters, and even alpaca socks, have all been worn.
On that chilly note ill say goodbye until next month.
Luke A. Ward
Research Scientist and Intern Coordinator