First fieldwork trip to Papua New Guinea

Part of my work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences is to do fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. The main place for that is the Binatang Research Center close to the city of Madang. It has already a quite long and successful history of studying the surrounding rainforests. My first visit there was in April and May 2018. It was also my first ever visit to any tropical country.

The Binatang Research Center (BRC) is on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. The view over the bay is very beautiful.

 

The staff at BRC are very helpful and there are all the time better facilities to do various kinds of research. The latest addition is the canopy crane. During my visit I followed when they built it. It was 25 m high when I left and couple of weeks later I heard that it was finished and operational. I had three very good assistants (Bonny, Allan and Gibson) helping me with the experiments.

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Canopy crane being built (Photo by Elina Mäntylä)

 

There were lots of animals at BRC, both living there (four dogs, Kokomo the hornbill etc) and wild visitors.

 

I did my experiments in the nearby Baitabag forests, both primary and secondary. The experiments went well. I collected, for example, plant volatiles and studied the predation rate of birds, ants, spiders etc with artificial plasticine caterpillars. Of course it was very hot, and lots of mosquitoes and other nasty insects. It also rained heavily almost daily, but luckily mostly during evenings and nights. Only once we got soaked with an afternoon rain shower in the forest. 😉

 

But in addition to the scientific part of the visit, I was very interested in all the plant and animal species new to me.

There were of course very tall trees:

 

There was a small river running through the study area and we could stop by it for a lunch break. But the river also meant that there were very steep slopes and slippery paths.

 

Almost all the birds in the forest were high up in the canopy. So, you could hear them but not see. Luckily my assistant Bonny knew the local birds, so he could identify the various sounds. In my study area were living, for example, lesser bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea minor), brush cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus), rufous-bellied kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichaud), spangled drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) and golden monarch (Carterornis chrysomela). And of course there were loads of insects and other arthropods. Most of them were too fast for any photos, such as the big and colourful butterflies. Here are photos of some slower species. 😉

 

 

I was pleased with this first visit to Papua New Guinea. I have already the next visit planned later in 2018.

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Me at the end of the fieldwork and with a view from the secondary forest area to the ocean (Photo by Bonny Koinea)

 

© Elina Mäntylä (elkuma@utu.fi), 11 June 2018

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