2018 Rainforest (Payamino) projects
Artificial reservoirs have been set-up up in the canopy, awaiting colonisation by invertebrates. These artificial structures mimic the natural canopy phytotelmata or water tanks provided by plants such as bromeliads.
The aim of this project is to compare the species diversity and composition of canopy invertebrates in secondary forest, trail edges, and road edge.
Comparing the amphibian abundance and richness in different sites and determine whether it changes with the land use and forest type.
Determine if there is a relationship between the amphibian diversity and the water parameters in different streams.
Does the type of border influence amphibian community composition and biodiversity.
Insectivorous bats have a major influence on insect biodiversity throughout the world, including in tropical rainforests. Because species tend to segregate themselves in space and time, the biodiversity of bats is likely to have a major impact on associated biodiversity. Because human influences on the environment are likely to impact bat biodiversity, it is important to understand these effects.
This project will investigate how bat diversity is influenced by by human disturbance to environments. Typical disturbance factors include proximity to human habitation and the effects of artificial lighting.
Biodiversity in phytotelmata
A phytotelm is a body of water within a plant. The flowers bracts of heliconias, the tanks in bromeliads, or the holes in trees are all examples of phytotelmata.
We will be looking for factors that influence the biodiversity living within phytotelmata. This project can be as much an entomology as a botanical one project, depending on your interests and the question you want to answer!
Forest diversity and carbon
How does the tree diversity and carbon storage of Payamino compare to other tropical forests?
We will measure the size and diversity of the trees in plots at Payamino to quantify the diversity and carbon that they hold. We can then compare these plots to others from elsewhere in South America and the rest of the tropics.
Comparing methods of estimating mammal abundance – these projects will compare diversity measures of large forest mammals using camera traps and track surveys.
Lianas (woody vines) are important parasites of trees in tropical forests, competing directly with trees and changing how trees compete amongst themselves, and are increasing in abundance across all forests. Lianas respond strongly to disturbance and so trees at the edges of forest fragments may be more vulnerable to infestation, increasing their stress and mortality.
We will compare the diversity and abundance of lianas in the forest interior and at the edges, and consider other factors that may be important in driving the liana community, such as species of tree, tree age structure etc.
Arachnids come in a large variety of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes in Payamino, from tiny jumping spiders and pseudoscorpions to enormous tailless whip scorpions and hairy tarantulas. Very little is known about arachnid communities in Ecuador.
We will be characterising the taxonomical and functional diversity of spiders. There will be the chance to participate in optimising an already existing protocol for surveying tropical forest spider communities to fit specifically to Payamino.