Today was our last day in Monteverde at the University of Georgia Campus before we head out to Cabo Blanco. Yesterday, we collected data for our second group research projects.
Anna, Kristy, Ellen, and Sam hiked up the mountain, where they eventually got to the edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to collect leaves for their leaf litter research. Aubrey, Leah, Karlie, Jack, and Lucas spent their morning measuring the health of 250 coffee trees at the Finca La Bella coffee farm. Chris, Mark, and Kiersten headed to three streams where they collected data on macro invertebrates and water quality.
For my research project, Morgan, Cole, Mike, and I explored the growth of multiple species of trees in the premontane forest. We did this using the data collected by the University of Georgia personnel in 2012. Fabricio, a forester and the manager at UGACR hiked with us to the plots of land where we measured our trees. There, he demonstrated how to measure the diameter at breast height (DBH). We spent our morning hiking throughout the plots looking for marked trees and measuring their DBH. Some of the trees we needed to measure had large buttress roots that even Cole couldn’t reach, so we used a ladder and some teamwork!
We completed our data collection, and headed to lunch. After our short break at lunch, the research groups got back together to work on their data analysis and eventually their research paper. My group and I got to work on the beautiful porch at UGA. The view and weather were both so pleasant that at times it was difficult to work on our project without getting distracted! Eventually we remembered the motto for our research project; “Fun, effective, and efficient” (shout out to Aubrey from Team Peccary!) and we got a good bit of our work done before dinner.
After catching up with our classmates from different research groups (and drinking some yummy hot chocolate at dinner), we had the rest of the evening to continue with our schoolwork. Many of us headed to the biblioteca, which means library in Spanish, where we worked away on our individual research papers.
Today, the research groups came together again to finish up our research papers and to present our findings.
Aubrey, Leah, Luke, Karlie, and Jack found that all three of their hypotheses for their research were correct in their studies of the effects of Leaf Rust on the coffee farm at Finca La Bella. They concluded that shaded coffee plants, younger coffee plants, and the top of the plant would be healthier.
Anna, Kristy, Ellen, and Sam found that although the abundance of invertebrates in leaf litter did not show a strong correlation with elevation, they found that leaf litter had the highest mass at low and high elevations and least litter at middle elevations
Chris, Mark, and Kiersten studied hydrochemistry, macro invertebrates, and water quality indicators for their research project. They found that of the three locations they collected data, the Rio San Luis had the highest biodiversity of macro invertebrates.
As for the tree growth group, we found that the trees grew from 2012, and there were a high abundance of pioneer species and gap specialist tree species. We contributed our research on tree growth to a long-term study on the University of Georgia Costa Rica campus.
Many of us are now working on completing our individual research papers and packing our things before we head out to sunny Cabo Blanco for four days!