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jueves, 11 de agosto de 2011

Controls, close encounters and capuchins

Greg Goodfellow is into the last two weeks of data collection for his investigation into white-rumped tanager duets, territorial, and mate defence behaviours. He has been successful in collecting a healthy and valid amount of data over a 3 month period which will eventually allow him to test his project hypotheses through statistical analysis. Greg has achieved this result through dedication, hard work, and a rigid consistency in his fieldwork. These final two week for Greg will involve collecting the last few data points and also conducting control playback, i.e playbacks that are not white-rumped tanager duets. This will assess if it is simply bird vocalisations they respond to or the actual duet of a perceived rival pairs. Greg also videoed some very interesting behaviour today. During one of playback experiments which included the presence of two dummy tanagers, the resident pair flew over and approached the dummies within 0.5m. Then they came together just 1m from the dummies in the same tree and produced a return duet. This evidence shows that on some level the visual presence of rivals adds to the severity of reactions from resident pairs.

Our botany intern Georgina Snelling has now begun data collection from her 100m x 100m plots. Within each of her 12 plots she has randomly selected ten 10m x 10m quadrants. Data will be collected from inside these quads to eventually give a 10% sample of the habitats. Next week she will begin using the new equipment Para la Tierra are providing. These include a moisture and conductivity probe as well as a sunlight sensor. At the same time Georgina is building up a herbarium of ferns and other botanical samples from the reserve. This involves a lot of ‘keying out’ as botanists say.

Aimee Oxley has completed her data collection period for her Masters research into the affect of habitat disturbance on small mammals. She gained a good amount of captures and data during the allocated time period and is now collating it all together in preparation for statistical analysis.

Aimee’s study in the Atlantic forest has had an additional unexpected result and benefit. Over the last two months Aimee and the volunteers who have helped her have regularly observed tufted capuchins (Cebus libidinosus paraguayanus). The reactions from the monkeys to human encounters has been so encouraging that we are now aiming to launch a long term primate project at Para la Tierra. The monkeys were not scared (which is usually the case for unhabituated primates) and did not run away. Instead they were more inquisitive and stared at the people for a while and then carried on with their business. This is an excellent sign and we intend to habituate these groups and get to know them a lot better.

Finally, I am leaving Laguna Blanca for a couple of days next week to visit Asuncion. In the capital I will be collecting some important items for camp, holding some research meetings with Para la Tierra collaborator Dr Robert Owen, and also giving a presentation on the organisation at an English speaking class.

Until next time ill say goodbye.

Best wishes,

Luke

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