tree RESEARCH TEAM
ceiba. dipteryx. iriartea. astrocaryum. swietenia. cedrelinga. hura. zanthoxylum.
Understanding the diversity, population dynamics, and carbon dynamics
of trees and other plants in Amazonian Peru
The Tree Research Team, with headquarters in the city of Puerto Maldonado, is tasked with listing the tree (and liana) species to be found at each research site. Other than diversity, the team also aims to determine the density, size distribution, basal area, community structure, and carbon content of trees (using multiple 0.05 ha forest plots) and how these vary within and between sites. Tree census plots are placed in all the forest types identified at each site. With the information gathered by this team used as dependent variables, the other wildlife research teams (i.e. mammals, birds, amphibians, etc.) can better understand the patterns of change within and between sites with respect to their own taxonomic groups of interest.
Research coordinator, Darwin Solano, inputting tree data directly into the smartphone. Photo: Chris Kirkby
Tree research team intern, Pedro (from Colombia), identifying a tree species by looking at leaf venation. Photo: Nicholas Cade
The internode area of a Guadua sarcocarpa bamboo stem. Photo: Chris Kirkby
Methods Used and Skills Taught
The methods and techniques that our volunteers and interns learn and implement under the leadership and supervision of our tree research coordinators, include botanical plot set-up; diametre breast height (DBH) measurements of trees; tree species identification; tagging trees with numbered aluminium tags; and tree height calculation. Data analysis and visualisation programs that we use and teach, include R, SPSS, Estimates, and QGIS. Each field site requires 30-60 tree plots (each 10 x 50 m or 0.05 ha). Each week, sampling is undertaken Monday to midday on Saturday, after which team members are free to relax and explore the local area. Click here for more details about this program.
The gloom at the base of a giant Fig tree, festooned with lianas.
Photo: Juan Carlos Huayllapuma
A Typical Day
Research days are split into morning and afternoon sessions. On each research day, typically both sessions are completed, for a total of around 7 hrs of active field time and data input per day. On most morning sessions, sampling begins at 8:00 am, after breakfast, with assessing the map of forest types at the field site and identifying the two or three plots that will be sampled that day. Having arrived at the geographic centre of the first plot, with the help of a GPS, a 50 m tape measure is used to mark out the centreline of the plot. With the help of a shorter 5 m tape measure, the team will determine if a tree is located within the plot or not. For those deemed within, a DBH tape measure is used to measure its diameter. Those trees within the plot and of a diameter of at least 10 cm, are subsequently identified, with voucher specimens taken if field identification is not possible. Photos of leaves, flowers, and trunk are also taken to aid identification is some circumstances. The presence of Guadua bamboo in a plot is also noted. In the morning session between 1-2 plots can be finished. In the afternoon, after lunch, one plot is usually sampled, with the remainder of the session set aside for data input and discussions of tree identification techniques. Saturday afternoons and Sundays are designated for relaxation and personal exploration of the local area.
Looking up through Malastomataceae plant leaves towards the palm-filled canopy.
Video: Chris Kirkby
Volunteer and Intern Participation Fees
All meals (veg options available) and lodging (shared rooms), scheduled transfers, field training and supervision, research permits, research activities, local Sunday expeditions.
Flights, non-scheduled transfers, clothes washing, rubber boots, rain poncho, personal medical issues.
1 week - US$ 500
2 weeks - US$ 900
3 weeks - US$ 1200
1 month - US$ 1600
6 weeks - US$ 2200
2 months - US$ 2850
3 months - US$ 4100
Any time of year. We recommend successful applicants arrive in the city of Puerto Maldonado (PEM) on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday if at all possible. The city is served by daily flights from Lima (LIM) and Cusco (CUZ) via the airline Latam.
Non-profit Fee Breakdown
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