‘Effects of Global Change on Small Island Trophic Meta-Network’

In September, we hosted a group of six researchers, studying island wood-webs. Their first visit to Fregate Island was in November 2019, to collect data during the north-west monsoon season, and so they returned now to collect data during the south-east monsoon season.

The study aims at understanding plant and animal pollination and feeding interactions to build food-webs on different islands around the world.

…catching birds with mist nets.
Mist netting is one of the most common ways to catch birds. The team assisted as the researchers took physiological measurements, collected faeces and sampled pollen from the beaks of the birds, to analyze it in Europe. This is done to gain information about what the birds eat (e.g., plant nectar, seeds or insects).

…sampling roots.
Roots of different plant species were collected, to determine which fungi are associated with them.

…catching lizards, by hand!
The conservation team learned how to safely catch skinks by hand and assisted as the researchers took physiological examination. They also collected pollen from the heads of the skinks similarly to the birds.

…sampling faeces.
By taking a closer look, you can learn a lot about the differences of several animal faeces. Often, we were able to tell a lot about an animal’s diet based on the appearance of the faeces, by a quick examination. The next step will be the analyzation of the collected samples in the lab in Europe.

…sampling soil invertebrates.
By using miniature quadrats, a method we like to call ‘bush bashing’ and a pooter (a device used in the collection of insects).
There are many small invertebrates on Fregate Island. Luckily, Dr. Heriberto Lopez is an entomology expert and came prepared with his very own ‘Heri-guide’ on invertebrates of Fregate Island, which he created on his last visit – a very useful tool.

…direct observations.
Observation and recording of pollinators visiting flowers, as well as which pollinators visited which flower and how often.

It has been an absolute pleasure to host these wonderful researchers, to create a better understanding of our environment and provide our volunteers with a very special kind of training.