PLT’s newest intern Becky Graham has now successfully launched her study. After some careful planning and research she finalised her project a few days before her first trapping session was due to begin. Becky’s research is looking at several factors that may affect the abundance and movement of certain small mammal species in the semi deciduous transitional forests (semi caducifolio) at Laguna Blanca. Becky has set up four 50m x 50m trapping grids in different areas of the forest which have intra-habitat differences to each other. These grids are located in the interior forest, transitional ecotone between the forest and cerradon, bordering the lake, and bordering an anthropogenic disturbance (agricultural land). Becky has also set Sherman traps at ground, arboreal, and canopy level in order to examine abundance differences in forest strata. She will conduct her trapping sessions around the lunar cycles (full and new moon phases) and will also be testing the affect certain other variables have on trapping and abundance. These include temperature, humidity, rainfall, and foliage structure and densities within each grid.
Becky’s first few days of trapping are underway and she is quickly learning all the handling and micro chipping techniques she will need for the coming months. She is also receiving some much appreciated help from volunteer Mike Kempster and ex intern/current volunteer Aimme Oxley. Becky’s project will produce results on how certain small mammals adapt to the variables within the semi deciduous transitional forests, which is an understudied ecosystem. Her results will also allow comparisons from the different intra-habitat structures so she will be able to assess the risk of further habitat change and degradation. Becky’s assessment of weather variables will give a better understanding of the ecology of the species living in these semi deciduous transitional forests.
As I have said in a previous blog, the intern experience at PLT does not necessarily end when students leave Laguna Blanca. Ex intern Greg Goodfellow is now at a stage to start writing his first publication based on his findings from his project investigating White-rumped tanager duets. In collaboration with myself and PLT Science Coordinator Paul Smith, Greg will aim to produce a paper for submission by January. Currently we are looking at Greg’s data to decide which particular area of his research is most appropriate and viable for publication.
Finally, we are on to the next set of funding applications. In a couple of weeks we will submit grant applications both to the Phoenix Zoo Conservation and Science grant and the SeaWorld and Bush Gardens Wildlife Fund. These grants encompass a broad and inclusive focus on scientific research, conservation, and local community work.
Unitl next time I’ll say goodbye.