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My six week expedition takes place in Mexico, three weeks of which will be spent in the Mayan forest and 3 weeks at the marine site at the Akumal Research Centre. As a research assistant I will be helping Operation Wallacea to address major issues related to sustainable management and conservation. I will be carrying out surveys on habitat quality, forest structure and biodiversity assessments in one of the most remote camps in the Mayan forest. Butterflies,Amphibians,reptiles,birds,bats and large animals are the six key groups included in the biodiversity assessment. This allows us to record population size estimates and habitat range. I will then move onto the marine site where i will undertake a dive training course and learn about coral reef biology and ecology and how to identify key species in order to collect data. Another role I will be involved in at the marine site is in the gathering of data to determine the impact of tourism and water quality on the reef system. Also to assess the importance of the Akumal beaches and sea grasses for the sea turtle populations and investigate the impact of snorkel based tourism on sea turtle behavior.
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Kim Cowling - 1st and 3rd Kilmacolm Guides
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