Stories from the Field

Hillside Scanning Taking Notes in the Forest Careful Handling Up Close Observations

The logistics of field work are often the most challenging aspect of the work. Stories from the field was created as a means for students and professionals to communicate our experiences and challenges while conducting field work in various tropical countries. Stories from the field also demonstrates the financial logistics of conducting field work.

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Green Goes to Gray

by Martha Podren, MS graduate 2003

The overwhelming fact of life in Monteverde is water: water in mists, fogs, drizzles and gushes, in droplets, puddles and torrents More…


Zimbabwe Reflections

by Jessica Mathon, MS student

My blue sleeping bag and me, we’ve been through a lot together. All I have to do is pull it out of its storage bag and the memories come flooding back. The silky outer cover, soft downy insides, the smoky mopane fire smell More…


The Distribution and Conservation Status of Two Endemic Chelonians from Sulawesi Indonesia

by Ian Ives

From February 19-27, 2005, I conducted a preliminary investigation of the distribution and conservation status of Sulawesi’s two endemic chelonians, the Sulawesi Forest Turtle, Leucocephalon yuwonoi, and the Forsten’s Tortoise, indotestudo forstenii. Morphological data and commercial trade information were gathered from specimens at a commercial holding facility in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Species distribution information was gathered through interviews and habitat surveys in the Palu, Palolo, and Kulawi Valleys of Lore Lindu National Park. My goals were to determine if a new range existed for L. yuwonoi, whether there were morphological differences between populations of I. Forstenii, and if estimates of population size for both species could be determined based on several years of documented collection data. My thesis will present detailed results and a discussion of the trade of chelonians in Sulawesi.
Preliminary Field Study (PDF 856K)


Chimpanzee seed dispersal in Rwanda

by Nicole Gross-Camp, PhD Candidate

I moved toward the large Parinari tree where my field assistant, Abraham, stood. As I made my way through the dense understory, the woody remnants of Mimulopsis tugged at the loopholes on my shoelaces More…


West Indies

by Rick Newman, PhD Candidate

I am spending the winter helping conduct research on the winter bird community in St. Martin, with an organization called EPIC (Environmental Protection in the Caribbean). EPIC has spent the last four years conducting mistnetting and bird surveys on St Martin and a number of other Caribbean Islands. I have enjoyed this opportunity to visit this unique island and study its intriguing bird community. Each day has been exciting, as we never know what we will find. EPIC has identified species that had long though to be extirpated from the island. We just recently found two species of bird never before see in this part of the Caribbean! I am reminded every day of just how much is not known about these island systems. Also, having the opportunity to help EPIC educate local school children about their islands special natural heritage has provided me with hope in light of the looming threats from development that this island faces. This field experience has been an extremely rewarding one.


Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

by Jessica Ganas, MS Graduate

For one year (August 2001-2002), I lived in an afromontane rainforest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, studying the feeding ecology and ranging patterns of three mountain gorilla groups as part of my masters thesis at Antioch University New England. On a daily basis, my assistants and I would track gorilla trails, stopping at their nests to collect GPS points and dung. From here we would measure the distance between two consecutive night nests to investigate daily path length and record what the gorillas have been eating. In addition, I had an ongoing phenology study and completed 50 200 meter vegetation transects in order to determine gorilla food spatial and temporal availability. Sounds easy enough? Not so. Bwindi is rugged terrain encompassed by think vegetation earning its rightful name “Bwindi Impenetrable”. Flat terrain was rare and more often than not I was climbing a steep slope with 15 to 20 pounds on my back, tripping over hidden vines and getting cuts from thorny vegetation. Despite all that, it was one of the most incredible years of my life.