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lunes, 24 de octubre de 2011

HanDbase, trail cutting race, and new small mammal intern ace

Here at Laguna Blanca it is business as usual. Activity and production has steadily increased back to the levels we are accustomed to at Para la Tierra, thanks to two new arrivals, Becky and Mike.
The trail system for the PLT capuchin project has received a boost from some much appreciated help. After a session of help from forest guards Jorge and Concepcion, PLT director Karina Atkinson, and several sessions with new volunteer Mike Kempster, we now have just over 3km of trail going through the heart of the capuchin’s home range (or my prediction of their home range). Mike has been particularly helpful and soon mastered the art of the machete (both long and short staff). Mike, once again, underlines why volunteers are so important to PLT and the activity that goes on here. If you too would like to get involved as a volunteer on the capuchin project, or pursue an internship or assistantship on another project then please contact
The monkey project enjoyed further progress last week when we were able to secure two items of equipment. HanDbase, a data design and storage program, will allow me to produced our own project specific data collection, storage, and analysis system. Additionally to HanDbase we secured some electronic palm pilots that will allow us to collect a lot of data in an organised way. While we wait for these items to be shipped I have designed two trial data sheets to test out. Once these items are here, for each day of data collection we will simply plug our palm pilots into HanDbase and upload our data onto the system. A huge time and energy saver compared to the old days of free hand data collection and transcribing all data points manually. Finally, after submitting our first grant application we are now almost ready to submit major funding applications to National Geographic and the Mohamed Bin Zayed fund.

I also have a new intern here, Becky Graham. Becky’s project will aim to examine a number of contributing variables to abundance, diversity, distribution, and movement of small mammals within the dry forest (monte seco). She is currently researching and short listing her areas of focus, but so far she is interested in testing the influence of climatic conditions, flora density, cover, and type, lunar cycles, forest strata, and the possible affect of both transitional areas and natural and non natural disturbances. Alongside this planning and research phase Becky is also hard at work checking and preparing the 300 traps she will set at 4 different locations in the forest and at 3 different heights – ground, arboreal, and canopy. She is also cutting and preparing 200 boards to set the arboreal and canopy traps on. Becky’s project holds a lot of potential as she is purposely identifying several previously unstudied areas. With a strong methodology we are hoping Becky’s work will shed new light and provide new knowledge on these dry forest species and what affects their environment has on them.

Until next time I’ll say goodbye.

Best wishes,


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