We are approaching the end of the data collection portion of the students’ Directed Research (DR) projects. This time is a bit different from the first two months of the semester when everyone does everything together. Eating all their meals, listening to lectures in class, traveling in vans, and studying amazing ecosystems together! However, for the past two weeks the students have been split up into different research groups with different schedules.

During this hectic but exciting time, students work hard to collect and analyze data on their selected DR topics. Some students have been out in field all day collecting rainforest plants and soil to examine Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo habitat. Other students have been out in the afternoon and stay into the evening looking for signs of tree kangaroos. A couple students are also examining possible solutions to feral animal predation on tree kangaroos.

Photo: Greyson Butler

Photo: Carina Easley-Appleyard, Intern

One group of students has been traveling far distances, interviewing people involved with indigenous tourism operations. Another group has been spending long hours on site, collecting fecal matter from tooth-billed bower birds and analysing it in the lab.

Photo: Carina Easley-Appleyard, Intern

Photo: Amanda Freeman, Centre Director

As DR write-up time begins, students are not only reconnecting with each other but also discovering connections in their data results. They use various data analysis tools and techniques such as Geographic Information System (GIS) and statistical software. The students’ scientific findings will make valuable contributions to the Centre’s Five-Year Research Plan as well as to the local communities of the Wet Tropics region. Their conclusions will also be presented back to the community in the coming weeks.

However, before their presentations, they get to reconnect with the community they’ve become a part of throughout the semester. This week students will be taking breaks from writing their DR reports to cook their own family recipes for Thanksgiving. An absurd amount of delicious food will be shared with local community members, including people the students have interacted with during their homestays, tree plantings with TREAT and Landcare, volunteering at the Tablelands Folk Festival, and various field excursions.

Charles, our beloved Australian brushturkey… who, for the record, we will not be eating for Thanksgiving. Photo: Drew Sorenson, Student Affairs Manger

→ Tropical Rainforest Studies Semester Program in Australia