Today I saw a mammal! Lucrecia and I went on a hike this morning, hoping to get closer to the howler monkeys we had been hearing. Although they stopped howling as soon as we entered the forest, we saw several birds, including a flock of parrots and possibly a mot-mot. I also found a log that appeared to have termite damage, but there were no termites to be found. As we neared the clearing of the research station, we stopped to listen to a bird. A few seconds later, a tayra wandered onto the path. It didn’t seem scared to se us, and it walked towards us for several meters before wandering back into the forest.
After breakfast, we finished up our Cecropia studies from yesterday. After 24 hours, the masses of the juvenile leaves were still identical to those of the adult trees. 2 adult leaves and no juvenile leaves had visible damage from the herbivores, but this could be due to random chance or a physical difference in the leaves, so we can’t conclude that a chemical deterrent is preventing hervbivory in juvenile trees. Also, we’re trying to have a conversation right now, but we can’t because the birds are too loud. It’s awesome.
Belize limestone forms many caves, and we visited one this afternoon. The Maya believed that caves were entrances to the underworld, and we saw Mayan artifacts throughout the cave. I can only imagine how terrifying and magical it would have been to travel through the cave without a flashlight and little understanding of why or how the cave formed. We also saw lots of bats living deep within the cave, and slid through the mud on our stomachs through the mud to see the skeleton of a peccary that had gotten lost in the cave.
Next, we set up an experiment to study nitrogen deficiencies in the rainforest canopy. Urine is very high in nitrogen, so we put vials of urine and water in trees and buried in the ground. If arthropods are deficient in nitrogen, and thus attracted to it, they will be more likely to fall into the nitrogen traps than the water traps. Tomorrow, we’ll look and see what we caught.