Our Research is Not Only Focused on the Diverse Fauna we are Finding Here, But Looks at the Plant Species Which Make up the Rainforest

 By Lara Rogers, Assistant Lead Scientist

When coming on a research expedition people are always asking you which animal you’re heading out to study.  Whilst my interest is in mammals I also understand how important it is to discover the relationships between those mammals and the environment they live in.  For this reason I always set about the arduous task of sampling the vegetation as well. 

The vegetation sampling we have been conducting is based on 20 by 20 plots which are placed along the transects where we look for the animals.  The specific characteristics we are looking for information about are the width of the tree trunk, the height of the tree, the thickness of the forest between all the trees, and how many possible connections each tree has to other trees for animals to cross. 

I am by no means a botanist so I keep the sampling to simple characteristics I can later analyse.  Also not being a botanist means that we are reliant on our guides knowledge and local names, and will later translate these with the aid of one of our sponsors, The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS).

BOS are always looking for new potential release sites for their ever increasing rescued and ready to release orangutans.  We are happy to help where we can and will share our data with them once analysed. 

This research will also be useful to the Orangutan Land Trust, who will be able to add the data to their own database to aid their important work.

So although not the most exciting thing to do in the rainforest, vegetation data can provide invaluable insights into the species we have come out to study, and the future preservation of their habitat.