Follow by Email

jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2011

Funds, community fun, and forth coming newbies

Currently at Laguna Blanca we are in a calm before the storm, a storm we are very much looking forward to I might add. Shortly our new interns and volunteers will be arriving to start new research projects. We will also shortly be starting the interview process for applicants to our new assistantship positions. But the deadline is not over so those of you interested should submit your application! If you are interested in birds, rodents, or monkeys, then get in touch at paralatierra@ymail.com.

In other news the trail design for the capuchin project is now coming together. All points have been marked with a GPS and a grid system is emerging. It’s long and hard work but will ultimately save a lot of time and energy once data collection begins. Part of our aim for the capuchin project is to secure external funding from scientific and conservation grant bodies. These funds will provide all necessary equipment and cover all other researcher costs for a minimum of 2 years. Once set up this will be a new and exciting option for interns and volunteers to take part in.

Finally we have just finished a day of outreach work at the reserve. Director of Para la Tierra Karina Atkinson organized a day of education and fun for the surrounding communities to take part in. This involved a presentation, assisted by newly purchased projector and wide screen, on the reserve and the value it has both to science and the people who live near it. After the presentation more than 100 of our guests enjoyed a lunch and a question and answer session. These ongoing steps Para la Tierra are taking with building good relations with the surrounding communities will result in both the reserve and people benefiting.

Until next time ill say goodbye.

Best wishes,

Luke

lunes, 12 de septiembre de 2011

Big Score and Opportunities at PLT!

A few days ago we said goodbye to our last (for the season) long term intern Georgina Snelling. Georgina completed an excellent investigation into the factors contributing to the distribution and diversity of fern species within the reserve. Not only did Georgina collect valuable data and discover specific ecological trends, but she also catalogued a large amount of fern species that are new records for Laguna Blanca.

Cesar has once again joined us to continue his Masters research into the biodiversity of the different habitats at Laguna Blanca. He will be making several visits to assess and survey the floral and faunal communities within the reserve.

The implementation of a grid trail system within the capuchin monkey home range has also begun. These trails will run through the heart of the groups territories and aid researchers when traveling through the forest or when following the monkeys.

The big news recently is the success of Para la Tierra in being awarded a grant from LUSH. These awarded funds are for the purchase of major new research equipment to be used within the reserve. Not only will this open new avenues for short and long term projects for staff and interns, but also add a array of new and exciting activities for volunteers to get involved with, for example day and night camera trapping of mammals and new recording and playback techniques for frogs and toads. Together with the new assistantships, this newly awarded grant will dramatically increase the scope and variety of research and activities at Laguna Blanca.

Currently we have several opportunities for 3 specific assistantships and 1 specific volunteership. These are –
1. Volunteer Assistant for tufted capuchin primate project
Para La Tierra has recently launched a new long term study on the Paraguayan tufted capuchin (Cebus apella paraguayanus). Located within the Atlantic forest at the Laguna Blanca wildlife reserve these populations are poorly studied and understood. The project aims to establish long term research into the behaviour, ecology, and genetics of this species.
Para la Tierra seeks volunteers to assist in the preliminary stages of the project. Presently the capuchins are not fully habituated or radio collared. Volunteers will be expected to assist in all parts of the project. Duties will include trail cutting, trail marking, GPS work, map making, daily searches for the monkeys, and collection of basic data. This position will provide an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in living and working at a field research site as well as in the study of wild primates. Successful volunteers in these primary stages of the project will be prioritised when fully funded behavioural assistantships become available later in the year.

2. Assistantship on a long term study of the Broad-headed spiny rat
Para la Tierra has recently launched a new long term study on the population dynamics and burrow ecology of the Broad-headed spiny rat (Clyomys laticeps). Located in the Cerrado habitats of the Laguna Blanca wildlife reserve in Paraguay these populations of social rodents are very poorly studied and understood. The project aims to establish long term research into the population structure, behaviour, and ecology of this species.
Para la Tierra invites candidates to apply for several assistantships we are offering. Assistants will be expected and required to make significant contributions in a number of areas including biweekly trapping sessions, daily data collection, excavation of burrow sites, data entry, data analyses, publications of findings, and training volunteers.

3. Assistantship on a long term study of the behaviour of Plush-crested jays
Para la Tierra has recently launched a new long term study on the behaviour and grouping patterns of wild plush crested jays (Cyanocorax chrysops). Located in the dry and Atlantic forests of the Laguna Blanca wildlife reserve these populations of social birds are poorly studied and understood. The project aims to establish long term research into the behaviour and grouping dynamics of this species.
Para la Tierra invites candidates to apply for several assistantships we are offering. Assistants will be expected and required to make significant contributions in a number of areas including daily observations, daily data collection, capturing and led ringing, data entry, data analyses, publications of findings, and training volunteers.

4. Assistantship on a long term study of the white-rump Tanager
Para la Tierra has recently launched a new study on the behaviour of wild white-rumped Tanager (Cypsnagra hirundinacea). Located in the Cerrado habitats of the Laguna Blanca wildlife reserve these populations of birds are poorly studied and understood. The project aims to establish long term research into the behaviour and vocalisations of this species.
Para la Tierra invites candidates to apply for several assistantships we are offering. Assistants will be expected and required to make significant contributions in a number of areas including daily observations, daily data collection, playback experiments, capturing and leg ringing, data entry, data analyses, publications of findings, and training volunteers.

These assistantships provide an outstanding opportunity for someone who seeks further field experience and is looking to develop in either animal behaviour, ecology, population dynamics, or any other related field science. This position is ideal for individuals looking to gain experience in preparation for Graduate school or to enhance their career.

If any of these opportunities looks like something you would like to get involved with then please get in contact with us at paralatierra@ymail.com or through the enquiry form on the website at www.paralatierra.org/contact.html

Until next time i’ll say goodbye.

Best wishes,

Luke

Lush, Winston Churchill and a returned escapee!

Hi everyone,

Great news! Over the past few months Karina and I have been working on a funding application to Lush Cosmetics who fund small projects for the benefit of, among other things, the environment and conservation. Well after a nail biting few weeks since the application was submitted I am delighted to report that we were successful and Lush have been kind enough to award us the full amount we asked for. YIPPEEEEEE!!!!!! This is such a great result as we are now able to buy some seriously cool scientific equipment, on the list of things we now have funding for are: bat detectors, sound recording equipment and computer analysis software, enough material to make at least 10 more pitfall traps, materials for community outreach events and the one I think we are all the most excited about CAMERA TRAPS. WOO HOO! So soon we’ll be able to see and document those elusive large mammals/birds we suspect are in the reserve but never quite manage to see! Now if that doesn’t entice you to come and spend some time with us nothing will!

Speaking of which if you do want to come and volunteer with us but are struggling with financing your trip, here is a possible solution. The Winston Churchill award is a scheme for UK residents over the age of 18 who wish to visit a project overseas to gain a wider understanding of their chosen field. The participant is then expected to return to the UK with this new found knowledge and share this information with their organisation or community. There are several categories that you can apply to so be sure to apply for one that is relevant to the work we are doing here in Paraguay! For more information on this please visit: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/

I have a few other bits and pieces to tell you about. I’ve had some more exciting finds in my pitfall traps. The most interesting being the discovery of blind snakes! These are notoriously difficult to find because they are almost entirely fossoral (live underground) but it would appear that they must come to the surface sometimes because I have found them in 2 different pitfall trap lines. Naturally I was delighted to find the first one and even more so when I got a second the very next day. However “disaster” struck when the second individual escaped in my bedroom! Not only did I kick myself that I’d lost it, I kicked myself even harder when it was discovered that the first was an undescribed species and from the brief glance I had of the second I thought it was the same - AAAGH how frustrating! These blind snakes are completely harmless by the way (their best line of defence is to poo on you!) however our cook didn’t know this when a week later she discovered our escapee on Luke’s door step. I wasn’t in but I’m sure I heard her scream from the Atlantic forest! All of this happened while I was out checking my traps - only to find yet another blind snake! So that morning I went from being one down to two up and the best part of it all is, the one that escaped and then reappeared is actually a different species to the others and is a new record for Laguna Blanca!

It’s not all been funding and new snakes tho, one of the tasks that I’ve spent a good part of the last fortnight on has been updating all of our health and safety documents. I have a fair bit of experience in this through my previous work as a volunteer co-ordinator so was happy to review all of our paperwork. I am pleased to report that despite being in Paraguay we are now up to speed with UK health and safety legislation and standards. But I have to admit it was a pretty dull job!

Phew after all that I need a holiday, which is lucky really as I’m off to Rio de Janeiro at the end of the week. 3 weeks of sun, sea and samba here I come Woo Hoo! I’m so lucky to have Paraguay as a base with such great locations surrounding it – I really don’t understand how so few people have discovered this gem of a country!

See you in a month everybody- now where did I put that sun cream?

Chauuuuuuuu

Helen