Ranomafana (10.01.2011 to 12.31.2011)

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Year: 
2011
Quarter: 
October - December
Communications activities: 

Presentation on Ranomafana TEAM activities was held with a group of students from the program “Helsinki Study Abroad” on November 28, 2011 at Centre ValBio.

Unusual Events at the TEAM Site: 

There are some unusual behaviors of some animal species caught up with the camera traps within Ranomafana TEAM site.  In the southern part of protected rainforest, the species of primate the Milne Edwards Sifaka, Propithecus edwardsi which had always seen up on the trees and never spend time at the lower level of the canopy, was caught playing on the ground (CT-RNF-3-16; CT-RNF-1-12).  The nocturnal rare species Aye-aye, Daubentonia madagascariensis was confirmed to occur only at Array 2 (Mangevo forest).  It was for the first time to record that this species can also be active during the day (7:56 am at CT-RNF-2-4).  The nocturnal lemur the Greater Dwarf Lemur, Cheirogaleus major, was found moving on the ground at Array 1 and 2.  The rare bird species the scaly ground roller, Brachypteracias squamiger, was well documented within both Array 1 and 3 (CT-RNF-1-10 and CT-RNF-3-10) of Ranomafana National Park.

All three Arrays show some signs of disturbance within the protected area: presence of dog (Canis) (most at Array 1), and the introduced wild pig (Potamochoerus larvatus) (most at both Array 1 and 2)).  This species of wild pig, which is predominantly nocturnal, was caught active during the day with two piglets playing on the ground (CT-1-12 at 8:50 am).

New Species: 

NONE

Protocol Activities: 

The two teams (VG and CT) remained consistent during all 2011 monitoring.  One vegetation team and one terrestrial vertebrate team worked simultaneously but in opposite sites to avoid overlap and potential disturbance.  Climate monitoring continued with the regular climate station maintenance and the data pick up (October – December 2011).

Period October – December 2011

Vegetation

Expedition Period

Vegetation Plot Number

Site Name

October 03 to 15, 2011

4

RANOMENA

October 20 to November 02, 2011

1

ANDEMAKA

November 02 to November 16, 2011

2

BEVOAHAZO

 

Terrestrial Vertebrates

 

Expedition Period

Field Activity

Array/Site number

Site Name (Camera trapping)

Array

27 August to 05 October 2011

Pick up

1 / 4

RANOMENA

half of Array 1

12 to 20 October 2011

Deployment

1 / 3

ANDRANOFADY

half of Array 1

21 to 29 October 2011

Deployment

2 / 5

MAHARIRA

half of Array 2

02 to 12 November 2011

Deployment

2 / 6

MANGEVO

half of Array 2

13 to 21 November 2011

Pick up

1 / 3

ANDRANOFADY

half of Array 1

22 to 30 November 2011

Pick up

2 / 5

MAHARIRA

half of Array 2

04 to 14 December 2011

Pick up

2 / 6

MANGEVO

half of Array 2

 

Climate

 

Schedule/Month

October

November

December

Maintenance

01/10/2011 and 15/10/2011

01/11/2011 and 15/11/2011

01/12/2011 and 15/12/2011

Data Collection

15/10/2011

15/11/2011

15/12/2011

 

The vegetation crew re-measured the DBH of every stem within plots, collected voucher specimens, and recorded all stem characteristics.  For terrestrial vertebrates, the second expeditions of thirty (30) camera trap deployment and pick up continued for half of array 1 (Andranofady) in the northern part of the rainforest, and Array 2 (Maharira and Mangevo) in the southern part, to cover the remaining 1.5 Arrays.  From November 2011, only 10 camera deployement for Mangevo, at the extreme southern part of the rainforest, remained to be conducted before the pick up cameras from Andranofady and Maharira.  Before being deployed in the field for 30 days, all cameras had always to be checked, calibrated, and tested to follow the TEAM standard protocols.  Climate station monitoring continues with bi-weekly regular maintenance and monthly data collection.  

All fields monitoring for Ranomafana TEAM site have been accomplished.  All vegetation data from the six plots (Plot 1: Andemaka; Plot 2: Bevoahazo; Plot 3: Andranofady; Plot 4: Ranomena; Plot 5: Maharira; Plot 6: Mangevo) have been obtained.  During this quarterly period (October – December), vegetation data from plot 1, 2, and 4 showed densities of 746, 1032, and 956 individual trees per hectare respectively.  Tree diversity demonstrates that plot 2 (Bevoahazo) represents the highest diversity in genera among them.  77 genera were found at plot 2 compared with 59 for each of the other two (plot 1 and 4: Andemaka and Ranomena).  Most of the vegetation data have been entered and uploaded to the TEAM portal.

For the terrestrial vertebrates, deployment and pick up of half of Array 1 in the northern part of the rainforest (Andranofady), and the whole Array 2 (Maharira and Mangevo in the southern part) have been accomplished.  A mean of 5,262 pictures were obtained from the camera traps within arrays.  Array 2 represents the highest number of taken pictures (8527) compared with the others (array 1: 3176; array 3: 4084).  All collected data and climate station management have been regularly uploaded into the TEAM portal and DeskTEAM.

 

Protocol Problems: 

Some corrections in the plant taxonomy have been made to the database from last year.  Most of them were at the taxonomic nomenclature level and at the values of the DBH.  Nomenclature and certain taxonomic levels (e.g., the family level) have been revised through the assistance of online resources (Tropicos), and will still be confirmed with the herbarium resources (Tsimbazaza) and others with expertise on Malagasy botany (MBG).  Unidentified/unknown plants will be brought to the herbarium of Tsimbazaza Antananarivo (PBZT) and the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) for identification.  In general, the changes in systematic classification of plant families affected somehow the data of the six Ranomafana TEAM plots.  The genus Dracaena, for example previously put in different family “Convallariaceae”, has been revised and put into the Family of “Asparagaceae”.  The genus, Calophyllum, of the family Calophyllaceae has moved to the family “Clusiaceae”.  The family Clusiaceae has also contained other species, such as the Harungana madagascariensis, and Psorospermum which were previously put in the family Hypericaceae.   The species Drypetes of the family Euphorbiaceae, has got a new family Putranjivaceae.  Thus, all further analysis of the TEAM vegetation data will be based on the updated taxonomic information.

 

Schedule Problems: 

Following the problem of human encroachment, especially near the gold mining activity, many of the TEAM vegetation plot-delimitating strings were missing and sticks/tree tag were stolen from the plot/sub-plots.  The vegetation team had to spend more time in fixing the problem by replacing those missing strings and sticks/tags.

Because of the period of expedition, which was outside of the reproductive season of the trees in the plot, the fertile plant parts of collected specimens could not be obtained during the field expedition.  Additional field planning for fertile voucher specimen collection had to be scheduled during the beginning of the dry season during the flowering and fructifying of most plants.

The four months field training was not sufficient for the needed requirement for a student to accomplish a research project for an academic University degree.  So, this year student could only focus on documentation, field prospecting, and initiate the field and practical work.  Existing and collected data gathering and analyzing were also conducted for the research project initiation.  Even though the time limitation would not allow the student to conduct a complete project, she had the opportunity to interact with other national and international students and follow the program on biodiversity in the tropics, called “Study Abroad, “RESPECT”” at Centre ValBio.  The student was able to attend workshops and learn more about biodiversity conservation.  In addition, through the training with the Missouri Botanical Garden, techniques and theories on field and laboratory preparation of plant voucher specimens following a standard protocol.

 

Logistical Problems: 

During the field expedition, getting to most of the TEAM sites need to use car transportation before reaching the road or path leading to the forest areas, so porters were always needed to carry the camping field equipment and materials.  However, because of the high traffic in the gold mining activities, porters were not always available.  Even though we had arranged the field porters few days ahead, most of the times we could not get the sufficient number of needed porters.  So, we had to set some priorities on which luggage to bring at the first possible day trip before the same porters could carry the remaining the following or so day(s).  

Some of the porters also refused to carry the expedition materials unless the porting rate would be increased.  Discussion on increasing the cost of porting had often arisen among the porters and local guides.

During 2011 field expedition, we had always to hire security agents (gendarme) for the safety of the TEAM crew in the field because of the insecurity with the gold mining in the park.  In other areas, such as in the southern parts (Mangevo for example), we had to hire an additional local guide if the gendarme was not the option.   The Madagascar National Parks, the park manager also did ask some help in some patrolling within the protected area.

 

Suggestions: 

The contribution of MBG in the project helped tremendously in the acquisition of knowledge on the updated field and laboratory techniques.  The continuation of this collaboration will help in the taxonomic identification of the unknown species within the plots, and might also provide information on the conservation importance of the existing plants.

In order to get more information on the regeneration of the forest for the data analysis on the impact of climatic change, the Madagascar National Parks manager suggests adding more criteria to the protocol parameters, such as diversity, density, and growth of trees with DBH less than 10 centimeters, and consider also the interaction between fauna and flora species within the plots.

To accomplish a project for an academic degree efficiently, with the theoretical and practical field training in addition to the reporting phase, the duration of the University student within the project should not be restricted to only for four months, or any opportunity for the continuation during the following year would be very necessary.

To avoid the shortage in porters during the expedition, we are planning to consider a focal person and if possible to have a list and contact information of potential porter who could participate in the expedition.  Porters may need to gather in an association or groups, so the leader could get in touch with them ahead to arrange the expedition.  Salary rates of local guides and porters also need to be revised since almost all the villagers working for TEAM or other projects request salary raise.  Note that the actual salary rates were based on the settled rates over five years ago.

To assure the safety during the field expedition, continuation of hiring of the security agents would still be encouraged, especially within the northern part of Ranomafana National Park.