I spent six weeks camping at Opwall’s Mexico site in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. To collect data for my dissertation, I was a member of both the mammal team and road impact team. I conducted mammal track surveys using patch occupancy sampling along set transects into the Mayan forests.
The mammal species that I focused on for my dissertation were: jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), brocket deer species (Mazama sp) and Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii).
As part of the data collection for my dissertation, I conducted road kill surveys and recorded the speed of vehicles using the reserve road with radar guns. Bushnell camera traps were used extensively to record the frequency of large mammal road crossings.
From the data collected, we successfully managed to stop the plans to widen the road through the reserve.
During my time as a research assistant, I gained experience in surveying bats and birds using mist nets. Other areas I gained survey experience in were butterflies, habitat, and herpetofauna. I also participated in spider monkey behaviour observations.