Student's Projects, Independent Research in Tropical Ecology (Part 2)
The research keeps going on and our students continue gathering really interesting data for the different topics they are all exploring.
Vikram Norton from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is studying the fire resistance of Cloud Forest Trees. Vikram found that in temperate and lowland tropical forest different characteristics of trees bark will give them different resistance to fire and as the climate is changing globally forest fires are becoming more common; forest fires are not common in Tropical Cloud Forests, but as the temperatures are increasing and these forests are becoming drier this may becoming a problem in the future, hence his interest on this topic. Vikram choose 10 different common species of trees in the Monteverde area and collected a small piece of bark from 3 individuals of each species, for each bark sample he measured the density, thickness and weight (dry and wet); and once the samples were completely dry after spending 48 hours in a food dehydrator the fire trials began, he put the samples over a direct flame and measure the time it take the sample to reach 60 degrees Celsius and the time it takes to set up on fire.
Sarah Aitken from the University of Pennsylvania is looking at the predation and dispersion of seeds by Agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata). To see this Sarah is using peanuts as seeds and she is using different treatments with animal dung; to observe if seeds that have go throughout the digestive system of an animal and expelled out in the dung have a higher chance of survive the predation of a seedeater Sarah is setting up in the field 10 stations with 10 seeds (peanuts) as control and 10 stations with 10 seeds cover with different kinds of animal dung: pig, horse, and cows and measure the number of seeds taken by agoutis or any other animals. Sarah also wants to see if seeds that are placed in an area with traces of a big predator will deter these seed predators or dispersers to come close to them, for this she is using seed stations with cat pee and seed stations with nothing on them as controls.