Our new year started off with two busy weeks of hosting 39 students and staff from Gatton Academy of Western Kentucky University. This is the 9th year for their Annual Gatton Academy Research Symposium at Cloudbridge. Three credits are earned through this honors class ‘Costa Rican Biodiversity Studies and Research’. The students from this school have come here to learn about the ecosystem of the cloud forest and challenge their ideas about biological systems in the tropics.
The research ended with presentations of their results on some challenging subjects. The students used a variety of indices to measure species diversity – Chao, Simpson, Shannon and ACE. They learned the differences between primary and secondary forests, as well as natural regrowth vs planted areas. Some of the groups used T-Tests and the ANOVAs for their statistical analysis. Through conversations with their group leaders, internet searches, and books available in the Cloudbridge library they learned surprising facts about tropical ecology. For instance, dung beetles are more active during the night, the pineapple is a species of bromeliad, and there are around 300 species of birds at Cloudbridge. Other discoveries include that there seems to be more understory plant diversity in the middle aged forest, core samples taken from a tree can determine the carbon density in a species, and very acidic soils create an environment in which it is difficult for microorganisms and bacteria to break down nutrients.
The biggest limitation for their research results was the limited time they had at the reserve. But the field experience and daily challenges in a unique environment was invaluable as an educational tool for observational skills, group work, and data collection.
It wasn’t just about research and field work. There was time for other activities such as art class, pizza night, relaxing, a climate change presentation and discussion, and swimming.
Thank you Gatton Academy for a outstanding two weeks at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
Research and Volunteers:
Jennifer Powell and Nina Champion’s report on “Butterfly Bait Preference in Cloudbridge Nature Reserve”. (http://cloudbridge.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2019-_Butterfly_bait_preference_Cloudbridge_Powell_Champion.pdf)
Mathilde & Benjamin – Paris France
February 2018, we left Paris to start a long journey around the world. We have been traveling, from east to west, from Russia to Costa Rica – from cold and beautiful winters to warm and sunny summers.
Before going back to France and to work in an office once again, we felt the need to do some volunteering in the outside. Our choice was to support the beautiful reforestation project of Cloud bridge.
We have stayed in Cloud Bridge for two weeks, during which both of us worked on trail renovation, on data collection, and on tree protection. Our favorite activity was to build some stairs, that people can walk on right after crossing the river, at the beginning of Sendero Sentinel- a beautiful trail surrounded by gorgeous trees.
The Cloudbridge forest is a little paradise. Mountains, waterfalls, trails, birds, and butterflies charmed us… We will bring these memories back to France, along with the fact that actions from a few can make a true difference for our planet.
My name is Dorian Rose. I recently returned to Tufts, where I started my degree years ago, and completed my degree in Biology with a focus on conservation. My primary interest is in birds, and how they are indicators of biodiversity and habitat health. While here at Cloudbridge, I am honing my research interests in a step towards applying to graduate schools. Cloudbridge, and their mission, is perfectly in line with my interests. I am deeply grateful and excited to be working here as a Tropical Bird Monitoring Intern, contributing to conservation efforts.
Volunteers from the organization ARO – Quebec Canada transplanting seedlings in the tree nursery.