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This expedition is based in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and I will be seeing first-hand how the forest changes in relation to water distribution and Mayan ruins and how this impacts of the diversity of fauna. My first week will be spent completing an introduction to the ancient Maya and Mayan jungle ecology course which involves field practicals to illustrate the survey techniques being used. I will then spend the next two weeks in a remote camp in the humid forests near the Guatemalan border which has large fruiting trees and an abundant food supply resulting in a high density of wildlife. Initial data collected at the remote Dos Naciones camp indicates that these humid forests are crucial for the conservation of flagship species such as jaguar, tapir and spider monkeys and have the highest diversity of birds, bats and herpetofauna in the reserve. Here I will help with surveys on forest structure and tree species composition, birds, bats, herpetofauna, primates and large terrestrial mammals using the same methods as the standard biodiversity surveys. During remote biodiversity surveys students, like myself, will be helping to run the field camp as well as assisting with surveys. In the last week of the expedition I will be travelling to the core zone of the reserve to focus on biodiversity surveys in this pristine habitat. I will be assisting with mist net surveys, including taking morphometric measurements of captures to monitor birds and bats. I will be performing and assisting with large mammal surveys, too. This involves recording primate sightings (distance sampling) and terrestrial mammal tracks (patch occupancy sampling) encountered along forest transects during morning surveys accompanied by afternoon sessions analysing camera trap data. I will be involved with line transect surveys and timed searches of aguada habitats for Herpetofauna such as crocodiles and other aquatic species. I will be using baited traps in different forest types to survey frugivorous butterflies. And finally, since forest structure is an essential data set for the project and I will also assist with carrying out quadrat samples.
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