After wrapping up a great week on North Straddie, we hopped on a ferry back to the mainland. This marked the first of many days full of rain and fun. The bus climbed up a steep and windy road until the plant life shifted and mist rolled in; we'd reached the rainy rainforest plateau. We set up our baboon proof tents as pademelons and brush turkeys ran rampant around us and enjoyed a nice meal prepared by the wonderful cook Maggie. The next day started early full of bird mist netting and small mammal trapping. Ellie and Colin narrowly escaped death in the form of the deadly jaws of a 3-inch rat. Next, we observed first-hand the stark differences between the eucalypt and rainforest flora, and later used our observations to poetically and musically represent our findings. After receiving an introduction to this ecosystem, we were given the challenge to prove competition does indeed exist in the rainforest and set off to conduct field research experiments. Some tried to tackle the age old question of “why does the early bird get the worm” while others delved into the mysteries of the noble black booyang tree. At night, we walked a mile into the forest in search of glow worms, and sat entranced at the sight of thousands embedded in the river bank. The next day we presented on our findings, with the added challenge of having no power point, so we got creative. It was a morning clear of rain, and so we presented outside with the dramatic background of the forest behind us and the occasional tropical parrot landing on our heads. With a free afternoon ahead of us, we made the most of our time and split up into several hiking groups and went adventuring on the many rainforest trails. All hikes experienced wet boots, copious leeches, and tons of fun. One group even had to wait for a massive python to cross the trail before they could pass. In the morning, we bid adieu to the brush turkeys and boarded the bus for a 12 hour trip to Carnarvon Gorge.
Updates from the 2012 Ecology in Australia seminar.