Earlier this week we could finally start setting up three new hectare plots in Santa Lucía. Two collaborators - Ana Marisca and Edison Jiménez - and three local staff members spent a week in the reserve cutting their way through primary forest in order to be able to set up the necessary poles and threads that mark a 100x100 plot and 25 sub plots in each of the main plots.
We chose locations at 1.600m, 2.050m and 2.250m of elevation in order to find out how altitude affects tree species composition. In the future we will set up more plots in order to get a finer network and will also include other factors (e.g. hillside exposure) in order to explain diversity.
The next step in the current project is taking the necessary samples (which includes some tree climbing) in order to identify all species present.
The plots will be monitored long-term and can also be used by students and indepent researchers for their own investigations in the future. Santa Lucía will set up a camera trap and a bird monitoring point either inside or near each of the plots.
Another idea that we are developing is using those plots for educational purposes.
To be continued ....