The Ecology module begins

|The Ecology module begins

On Monday the Field School kicked-off with an introductory lecture on ecology and evolution given by Dr. Dino Martins. For the next two weeks the students will be learning about the flora, fauna and ecology of the Turkana Basin region, from the life cycles of different insect species and the diseases they can transmit, to the sustainability of producing energy from Doum palm nuts, and MORE!

One of the great highlights of the Field School is the opportunity to directly engage with current and exciting research and collect data out in the field on a daily basis. On the morning of Day One the students went out into the compound to gather information from the Indigofera spinosa shrub. This involved measuring the the hight of the shrubs and counting how many seed pods they had.

Dr. Dino Martins briefs the students on the field exercise

Dr. Dino Martins briefs the students on the field exercise

Kailie and Janina counting pods

Kailie and Janina counting pods

Later in the afternoon, the students went out again, this time outside of the compound, where they were surrounded by many curious Turkana children eager to help out.

Rob and Kate are watched by a group of curious Turkana children on their way home from school

A group of  Turkana children on their way home from school  join Rob and Kate as they count the pods on an Indigofera shrub.

Back in the classroom, the students weighed the seed pods they collected, and collated the data in preparation for analysis.

Supervised by Dr. Dino Martins, the students weigh the pods back in the lab

Supervised by Dr. Dino Martins, the students weigh the pods back in the lab

On Day Two, the students went down to the Turkwel River to collect data from the Doum palms to assess their sex distribution (yes, there are female and male palm trees!) and nut productivity. It wasn’t easy to collect the nuts from the trees as they were so tall! But Francis did a demonstration and the students quickly got the hang of it. The tree was having none of it, though, and the situation rapidly developed onto a tug of war of Students vs. Tree. It was great fun and in the end a big bunch of nuts came loose and fell to the ground. Students 1 – 0 Tree.

Francis demonstrates how to get palm nuts

Francis demonstrates how to get palm nuts

Tug of War!

Tug of War!

After all the nuts were collected, the students returned to the classroom later in the day to weigh the palm nuts, type up their data and begin working on the analysis. Stay tuned for more updates!

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Students weighing palm nuts back at the lab

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:57+00:00 January 22nd, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on The Ecology module begins

About the Author:

Hi! I am Kat Warren and I am the Teaching Assistant for the Spring 2014 field school. While I am here I am also involved in the African Fossils Project (africanfossils.org) where I am 3D-scanning modern African fauna, fossils and archaeological material. I am a recent graduate in Archaeological Science from the University of Sheffield and my current interests lie in the evolution of cognition, and primate behaviour as a means to understand the cognitive frameworks of our earliest ancestors.