Thursday, August 9, 2012
UFV students to
study biodiversity in S. America
Released by Ashley Wray, UFV
Biology instructor Gregory Schmaltz (L
to R), student Mathew Knott, and biology instructor Debbie Wheeler,
are just a few of the UFV students and faculty heading to Ecuador
this week. There, the group will be collecting research on the
monkeys, and macaws will be the typical wildlife for a group of
biology students heading to South America this week with the
University of the Fraser Valley.
The students will be
spending two weeks in Ecuador's jungles, collecting information,
analyzing data, and absorbing the country's diversity.
The trip is an opportunity for the 17 students to develop their
expertise with hands-on research.
"They'll be developing strong leadership and work skills, at the
same time as getting a real taste of biology," said UFV biology
instructor Debbie Wheeler, who is coordinating the trip with fellow
biology professor, Gregory Schmaltz.
"And they're getting that experience in Ecuador - one of the most
bio-diverse countries in the world," added Schmaltz.
Accompanied by eight UFV faculty members, the students' time will be
divided between the Cloud Forest and the Amazon Basin Rain Forest.
The first week of field school will be spent in the mountains at the
Cloud Forest. Schmaltz described the area as humid, cool, and "a lot
like the Tarzan jungle."
Each morning, students will be up at dawn to conduct field work as
the afternoon tends to bring rain and fog. The rest of their days
will allow the chance to review notes, camera footage, and discuss
Split into five groups, the students are collecting information for
their research projects, which they decided upon this summer.
One group is focusing on hummingbirds — exploring where they are
most commonly found in the rainforest, and at what height they like
to feed. They'll be using sugar and feeders in their research, and
binoculars and video cameras for documentation.
Another group will be examining the hygienic behaviour of ants, and
how a colony reacts when a dead ant is placed in its path.
Fourth-year biology student Mathew Knott can't wait to start his ant
"I've always enjoyed the creepy crawlies," said Knott, with a smile.
"This is a great opportunity to travel and do our own research
project. I'm looking forward to getting some calculable results from
The second week will see the students in a very different ecosystem.
The Amazon Basin Rain Forest is packed with different types of
vegetation - lots of tall and straight trees, and a dense canopy.
It's also humid and mosquito-infested.
During that time, students will be taking in the country's unique
environment, animals, and plant life, through boat rides and walks.
"The students will always remember seeing their first toucan," said
This fully student-funded program covers two full courses, providing
students with eight credits. Students will be writing papers based
on the comparison of the ecosystems they're seeing.
For more information, visit the UFV Today blog at
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice