Friday, May 25, 2012

Fieldwork in Gede Ruins

Malaise traps in Gede regeneration plot
Jake and Brenda measuring ground cover characteristics in Gede

 Fieldwork is in full swing here on the Kenyan coast! We have spent this week deploying traps for ground-dwelling and flying insects in several different types of plots established on former farmland inside the Gede Ruins monument. These plots received several different kinds of treatment back in the mid-1990s, including seed enrichment and direct tree planting - and we are now in the process of comparing the arthropod and bird diversity (collaborating with Colin Jackson's ornithology team at A Rocha Kenya). We're also doing some sampling in both old-growth and secondary-growth tropical forest in Gede Ruins to be used as reference sites. This coming week we'll continue to sample in this regeneration plot, sorting insects back at A Rocha in preparation for donating them to colleagues/collaborators at National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, who are conducting a DNA barcoding project.
The long-rains are definitely here - several impressive downpours during fieldwork this week - alternated with the usual heat and humidity - couldn't be a better time to be sampling for arthropods!

Sorting specimens at A Rocha
Narina trogon (related to the famous Resplendent Quetzal of Costa Rica!) captured in mist nets in Gede

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fieldwork in Watamu

Syke's monkey in Watamu
Back in Watamu, Kenya working in a restoration site in nearby Gede Ruins this month! I'm here on the Kenyan coast with two UW Tacoma students, doing fieldwork exploring arthropod and bird diversity in a 2 ha forest restoration site that was planted with indigenous tree species 20 years ago - we're collaborating with local ornithologists and forestry experts to try to determine the link between forest regeneration and biological diversity. To that end, we'll be spending the next few weeks capturing and classifying arthropods and birds in the restoration site and nearby old growth coastal forest - as well as some farmsteads adjacent to the forest. We're particularly interested in the broader impacts of how restoring degraded landscapes can contrbute to ecological services such as pollination and biological control, overall species diversity, and carbon sequestration. Given that many local villagers depend on a variety of forest products for their livelihoods (in a region where the mean monthly income is roughly equivalent to $40USD), this study may have far-reaching implications for the local community. More updates to come as we dig into the fieldwork!
View of Kilimanjaro from plane en route to Watamu