Skip navigation

Field work with Nature Live

2 Posts tagged with the frogs tag

Last night we had thunder and lightning, almost directly overhead.  It rains most evenings/nights here but last night’s down pour was particularly heavy.  Most of us were consequently woken up in the small hours of this morning by the sound of frogs!  It sounds like there are hundreds of them surrounding our bunkhouse, although it’s too dark to go out and count, but their constant calling and croaking creates a deafening noise.  I will try and get a recording for you to listen to!




Keiron with an earthworm he found in one of the soil samples.


Soil sampling is a simple but effective way of discovering some of the numerous species of invertebrate that are living in the rainforest.  Keiron showed me how he digs a hole at set points along the transect line (a line running 100 metres through the site/plot being studied) and then sifts through it looking for animals.



Keiron demonstrates how the team sample the soil in the rainforest.


Dan, Kerry and Keiron have found a variety of animals living in the soil.  The majority tend to be ants and termites, which dominate the soil habitat of tropical rainforests, but they’ve also found centipedes, beetle larvae and earthworms (amongst other things). 




A large beetle larva found in one of the soil samples.  They have sharp jaws so it’s best not to handle them!


Any animals that are found in the soil samples are picked up (using tweezers) and popped into a tube of alcohol.  This kills and preserves them (stopping them from decomposing).  Some of the ants can move particularly fast, meaning you end up chasing them around the tray with the tweezers….I certainly need to practice more before I’m up to Kerry and Keiron’s standard of tweezer/ant control.




Kerry, with tweezers and tube of alcohol at the ready, carefully studies her soil sample.


Pat, Holger and Kishneth were collecting lichens at the final site today.  I had heard that tree diversity in tropical rainforests was high, but I was still surprised when Pat counted up the number of species they have sampled from.  Of 84 trees they have sampled, there are 49 different species of tree.  And that’s still only a handful of what’s living in the forest here.



Pat explains more about the trees and lichens that she and the lichenologists have been studying.




A good hand lens reveals the colourful and intricate world of lichens on a whole new scale.


Today has been a particularly memorable one because of the ‘monkey action’ we all witnessed this morning taking place in a massive Strangling Fig tree, close to the Studies Centre buildings. 




The Strangling Fig tree, viewed from the veranda of the Rest House.


For the best chance of seeing birds and mammals in the rainforest, you want to find a tree that is in flower or fruit.  In the last couple of days the figs on this mighty tree have been ripening, and everything is taking advantage of this ready food source! 


Yesterday we saw lots of birds, including species of Hornbill, flying into the upper branches. This morning, we caught a quick glimpse of a Bornean Gibbon before it swung swiftly away….which was probably due to the arrival of a troop of Pig-Tailed Macaques.  The Macaques managed to get right up into the highest branches, maybe 40 – 50 metres above the ground, and Tony filmed them as they skilfully moved through the branches and seemingly catapulted down the tree!



Despite being so perilously high above the ground, the Macaques are clearly far better adapted to life in the trees than we are!


Needless to say, as sat having dinner this evening (on the veranda outside because it never gets cold here), we all had smiles on our faces following another magical day in the jungle.




Meals of rice, meat and vegetables are supplemented by the odd box of biscuits!


Last night we got A LOT of rain. Bizarrely, it made all the frogs come out and they were so loud they kept us up most of the night!



We woke up bright and early (this is becoming the norm now!) and the sun was there to greet us. But alas, so was the wind. We set up a mock Attenborough Studio right on the beach – complete with chairs, coffee table and an audience! And after a few technical glitches, we video-linked live to London and spoke to Nature Live host Natalie and Professor Geoff Boxshall. Great fun and Geoff even put in a request for some specimens so we’ll be heading to the other side of the island later in the week to collect some copepods for him.



Above: It's the first time I've ever done a Nature Live barefoot!
(Click images to see them full size)


Diva and I also live-chatted with some schools online – Bowhunt, Wigmore, Elmshurst and Ashcroft – who asked some great questions! We’re looking forward to the next session on Tuesday.


Helena and Diva showed how diligent they were; while the sun was shining they were hunched over their microscopes looking for new species. Extra credit for them!





After lunch we all headed out to the sea grass beds to see what we could find.



Above: No Photoshop required!


This is an area of shallow sea grass that becomes visible at low tide and is home to an array of marine life. I was warned to wear shoes as the sea grass beds are teeming with lionfish - very dangerous. Nick, who grew up on the island, told me that they’re an invasive species, originally from the Indo-Pacific. The reason they’re so dangerous to fish in these waters is that some of the fish don’t actually recognise them as predators and there’s nothing around that predates them.



Above: Beautiful, but beware of lionfish...


During our beach bioblitz we found anemones, sea squirts, conch shells, sea urchins…and 2 lionfish!



Above: Leigh is beaming after finding her first conch!


The good news is that the weather is improving so we're going on the boat tomorrow! Hopefully we’ll find the whale bones and some Osedax!