Our report on fragmentation, edge effects, and critical area has been posted.
Our Current Project:
Currently, we are trying to identify indicator species in the rainforest, and then develop techniques to montior
A summary of our projects so far:
Our original idea was to divide the rainforest into different strata, and attempt to monitor the rainforest as a
whole by monitoring each individual strata. However, we quickly discovered that that was a BAD IDEA, as the strata
are not well defined, and the interaction between seperate strata make it difficult to monitor each one individually.
However, we did collect a lot of information on
the understory, aquatic enviornments,
the emergent, the canpoy, the ground, the
Amazon Delta, and the underground.
Our Second main idea was to try and create food webs of the rainforest. By doing that, we would be able to tell
"indicator" species; animals whose species health relies strongly on the health of the ecosystem. Unfortunately,
like our first idea, it didn't quite work the way we wanted it to. Although we were able to create food webs,
they were often so complex that it seemed like many species could go extinct and the food web wouldn't really notice.
We were somewhat hoping that top predators would have a relatively straight food chain, so that we could montior them
and then assume the health of the animals under them, but we quickly discovered that top predators have the largest
diversity in what they eat. This project is probably the work that opened us up to just how complex the rainforest
is. Although it is very fragile to outside infulences, it is reltaively stable internally. This stability is
there because the rainforest is so complex. (Yes, that does sound somewhat odd.) One example of that is the
pygmy marmoset, an animal that has adapted to live in only three or four species of trees. It is specialized enough
that it is only found in those trees, yet if one species of tree was to go extinct, it would still have other trees
to live in.
The last project led our group to try and re-evaluate what we were trying to do. We looked at our mission statement,
as well as at the class mission statement. We keep running into a roadblock though. (You'll probably hear about
this roadblock several times.) IF the water is healthy, the air is healthy, the soil is healthy, shouldn't the animals
be healthy? True, there might be problems with individual species, but we're worried about the health of the
ecosystem as a whole. This does bring up some issues with endangered species, but we've decided that its more
important that the rainforest adapts to the condition it has currently, since we're fighting a hard enough battle
to keep it from getting worse. Because of this, we started focusing more strongly on the idea of indicator species.
Which is where we are now.