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