I have returned to the urban landscape, and the first thing that struck me was how quickly I wished to return to the tropical forest to do further measurements on sapling roots as I read news of a 14-year old child activist who was shot in the head for championing a woman’s rights to education, or as this article points out, for being a secularist.
The memory bubble of leaves and leeches with the camaraderie of fellow researchers now finds itself transformed into an energy source for emotional sustenance. Temporary respite from depression can be generated from recollecting the truly enjoyable experience that was conducting ecological research in Lambir Hills National Park.
To summarise my work in Lambir, I was gathering data on fourteen species of dipterocarp seedlings which could be divided into clay specialists, sandy loam specialists and soil generalists. 24 plots were prepared with 225 seedlings planted in each plot. Each plot had a similar distribution of dipterocarp species. 12 of the plots were established on the sandy loam region and the other 12 on the clay region in Lambir.
Additionally, to determine any bias that would result from different light conditions during the experiment, which was conducted within the forest itself, half of the plots were established under canopy cover while the remaining half were established under forest gaps.
Me and my fellow research partner harvested the entire plant down to the tiniest fibrous roots for our respective assignments. While he had the task of collecting ectomycorrhizae from the roots, I would be scanning leaves, and measuring the height of the plant, the weight of the plant (separately for roots, stems and leaves), and (in the later stages of the project) density of stems and roots as well as a term I only just acquainted myself with which was specific root length.
As I have now proven to myself I know too little to explain these issues in depth yet, I will return to this topic (which will hopefully be the foundation of my Master’s degree) when I have become more well read on the subject.
With the purchase of a digital audio player at the beginning of the year, I have now found it practical to consume podcasts I had previously had to ignore voraciously, as I am no longer tied to the computer. A well earned return for Citizen Radio to my weekday listening, with the past week’s episode highlights including the documentary How to Survive a Plague and the atrocious presidential debates with no 3rd party candidates (DemocracyNow offers 3rd-party candidate responses here).
So I am back, and it is now time to gather myself once more, and continue the progressive fight.