Today was our first day of actual fieldwork! We wanted to study how species richness and composition vary in natural and man-made clearings, so we marked out 12 locations on the map. The hike looked completely manageable when mapped out on the whiteboard, but the elevation was a little more than we anticipated. 13 miles, 31,000 steps, and 10 hours later, we had placed our traps. We put 6 camera traps on roads, trails, and human-frequented clearings. In addition, we put 6 traps in natural clearings such as tree fall gaps, streams, and massive leafcutter ant nests.
We saw 3 termite nests today, but still no termites. The first was an arboreal nest approximately 1 m off the ground, but it was very far off the ground. We also found a carton mound approximately 50 cm tall. Although the mound was empty, it resembled a Rotunditermes bragantinus mound. Likewise, we found an empty clay mound 20 cm tall, which could have belonged to Embiratermes neotenicus. In addition, I found a tree that had died, but was still standing. The heartwood was filled with insect tunnels reminiscent of Coptotermes formosanus damage. I have not been this tired in a very long time, but we saw and heard lots of amazing wildlife and it was definitely worth the hike.