Name: Amanda Freeman, Ph.D.
Position: Center Director
Program: Techniques for Rainforest Research, Australia
It is hard to believe we are entering the third week of this programme. At this stage, students are full-on with academics, and busy dealing with data in several phases; analysing visitor data from their recent two-night Mission Beach field excursion and planning their data collection for upcoming projects on vertebrate diversity.
This week will see several early mornings as we shift our focus from the human dimension to the rainforest flora and fauna. Last week students were interviewing visitors to the Mission Beach area and learning about the impacts on tourism of events such as Cyclone Yasi which severely damaged the forest and infrastructure in the region a little over a year ago.
This week they’ll be conducting bird surveys, hence the early mornings, and exploring the impact of invasive coffee on rainforest habitats. Emphasised within all these projects are the field skills and research techniques used in rainforest research.
Here at the Centre, our dry season is kicking in. Nights are cool but the days are dry and sunny. The Tooth-billed Bowerbirds on site are feeling the change in the air too. Males of this fascinating species clear a court on the rainforest floor on which they place freshly plucked leaves, pale side up in an effort to impress the girls. Then, from a nearby perch, they spend the better part of their day calling raucously and mimicking a variety of other rainforest sounds. The first court of this dry season was discovered last week along our site walk.