Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mapadores at the Catolica Station.

Posted by Bejat

Over the past month we have been at the Catolica Station. Shawn climbed his absolute final trees for the year, one of which was next to Repsol YPF, directly behind and above the security entrance (photo to left). It was a hush-hush operation, so we went incognito into the forest and used our walkie talkies, minimizing movement and talk. Strangly enough, this tree yeilded the highest number of frogs, however they were species that prefer areas of high disturbance like Ranitomeya duellmani and Scinax ruber.

It was difficult leaving Omaka (photo to right). She gre
eted me this time by rolling over and allowing me to pet her belly. She stepped on my foot this visit and I recommend not letting a Tapir step on your foot that weighs as much as a small truck. She is stout.

There was a camera crew visiting the station filming a membracid movie called Mini Monsters, due to debut next year. Animal Planet will be featuring the flick. The crew consisted o
f about 15 people and they were recording the songs and behavior of Membracids, which are more commonly known as tree-hoppers. Minuscule creatures that have the most brilliant colors and forms. We were only at Catolica for about a month and Shawn climbed 4 trees, mapped trails, documented bromeliad growth. We went out herping every possible night, yeilding new species to the ever growing hertofauna list for Yasuni National Park.

Alvaro identified all our trees, except for a few, in just one evening. He is brilliant. I also took DNA samples of the trees Shawn climbed for further genetic work.
At some point in the future comparison genetic work will be done on the various species within this canopy environment to determine their relationship to one another.

Shawn submitted his DIGG proposal after over a month of painstakingly writing. He also took a flight over the Via Auca, provided by PetroEcuador, looking for Achmea zebrina bromeliads. He did find a few patches in a few last remaining chunks of primary forest (photo to right). He believes he found approximately 15 trees. Most of the area consited of cleared forest as seen in the photo to the left. The plane flew low and they opened the door so he could look directly down. The flight lasted about an hour and he said he is now hooked. He wants to fly an ultra-light plane. Until that time comes, I think he will be purchasing a remote control helicopter with a camera mounted to the base so that we may find the trees containing Achmea zebrina.

Shawn and
I left for Quito at the end of the month for Shawn's presentation at the Universidad de San Fransisco de Quito. He had about 100 students for his presentation and everyone was impressed. His slide presentation is fantastic, describing his work and the history of Yasuni in relation to oil and colonization.

As we say goodbye to all our friends at Catolica, this field season rapidly approaches the end, like our good friend Rosa (seen in the photo to left with Bejat), who owns the Wao tienda in Timpoca on the Rio TIputini. Walking away is always hard and looking back can be even harder, but knowing you will be returning makes it bearable. So you say your goodbyes, give the kisses and hugs, and wave until your arm feels as if it may fall

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