The work is going slower and harder than I thought—who’d have guessed?! I think the following posts will just be quick and touch on bits and pieces of my time here, and maybe after I get back I can write something nicer (and I’m gradually putting together a movie!).
This is the igape (stream) below the research station where locals hang out to splash around in the evening. I took my first Amazonian packrafting excursion up the stream (at this point more like a swampy labyrinth) a little ways. I had a great time until, while trying to break off a branch from a tree in flower to identify later, I angered a big wasp, which stung me on the lip first, then in several other places as I frantically paddled away.
So I spent the next couple days sporting the duck-billed platypus look! (back to normal mostly now)
Processing leaves after my first day collecting in the field. I’m doing transects, 50m by 2m, where I collect herbarium specimens, leaves, and twigs. I scan and weigh the leaves, then dry and weigh again to get leaf mass per area (a very important trait that tracks climate fairly well). I get wood density from twigs by saturating, then weighing and measuring volume by water displacement, then drying and weighing again. This was yesterday when I only managed to collect material from 4 plants due to some very hard-to-get leaves high in the canopy. Today I collected from 21 stems, so I’d better get back to work processing samples!
Here’s a photo from today. We had a giant palm in the transect. These make for somewhat tricky herbarium specimens when you’re supposed to represent at least one whole leaf in the area of a sheet of newspaper! Here, Bega, a local who’s working with me, has the extendable pole pruners hooked over the frond to break it and bring the whole thing down. What I have to do is make a multi-sheet specimen where I have part of the base, middle, and tip each on separate sheets. This leaf was 10 m long. I’m not going to scan and weigh palm leaves!