The last two weeks were filled with students’ activities in the classroom, the computer lab, the field lab, and even in the Australian Outback.
Classroom lectures on the history of Australian rainforests and ecological terminology laid the foundation of knowledge for students in upcoming research activities. Students were introduced to various software programmes to assist in collecting, storing, presenting, and analysing spatial data for ecological research and assessing the impact of climate change on the fauna of the Wet Tropics. They also learned how to write an essay on a socio-economic topic and applied this knowledge to their first assignment.
Further preparation of students for research activities included the practice of identifying rainforest plant and arthropod species. During a review of various trapping and marking methods for animals many students were able to utilize their knowledge from research projects they had been previously involved in at their home institutions.
Activities at the Centre were followed by the first excursion of the semester program: a visit to Chillagoe, a previous mining town in the Australian Outback. Students felt the heat, saw Australian savannah landscape, and were sent back in time when interpreting the geology of an ancient part of the Australian continent. Although the outback was cloudy, some students were able to get a glimpse of the stunning Australian night sky with its many stars and special features.