"Leading Initiatives for Future Ecologists (LIFE)" » Bayamón, Puerto Rico
The students at the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón want to promote ecology as an area of interest to the student body and larger island community. Our goals include creating awareness of the status of various ecosystems composing Puerto Rico and promoting the conservation of our island's biological resources.
UPR-Bayamón were the recipients of the 2008 SEEDS CHAPTER OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP AWARD!
Plans for 2008-2009
- Continue with the research project on hermit crabs by involving and motivating more students to become collaborators
- Create a fully functional recycling program at our campus.
- Create a volunteer program with the local National Park where our students will serve as guides for school, college and community groups that visit the park on weekends.
- Build a greenhouse and collaborate with the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico by growing and taking care of native tree species of Puerto Rico, so they can later form part of a reforestation program. The greenhouse will also serve as a fundraiser activity since we are planning to grow ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables to sell on campus.
- As part of fund raising activities we are planning on setting up a kiosk on campus where we can sell our products, buy coffee from local farmers and build a “mini Puerto Rican Starbucks”.
- Have more participation on SEEDS related activities like fieldtrips and meetings.
- Continue to live up to our Mission
At the beginning of the semester, September, we had an initiation to welcome new members to our chapter witch went very well. We have continued our investigation related to the hermit crabs by having field trips to both of the study sites. We collected data in "Hacienda Esperanza" located in Manatí, on August, October and December; and also collected data in Mona island on October.
Our organization tagged along with others organizations from our University and people in the community to participate in "Dia Internacional de limpieza de playas", on September 20, where we helped to clean the beach. On October 9, we had an orientation given to us by "Vida Marina", witch is an organization that promotes the collection and the recycle of fishing lines in the beaches of Puerto Rico witch causes the death of marine animals. They added us as collaborators on their proposal so that we help them create continence about the disposal of fishing lines.
We also had an orientation related to ecological impact of the climate change on November at the Botanical Garden of the UPR. At the end of the semester we promoted the BioExpo, an activity that allows students to present to the University community the different investigations that they have done during the semester.
For this semester, our plans are:
• Keep collecting data on the investigation of the hermit crab, in Manati and Mona island
• Collaborate with "Vida Marina"
• Field trip to the caves along with the SEEDS chapter AKKA
• Field trip to "Caja de Muerto" island to collect data of hermit crabs
• BioBlitz activity on April 17-18
Activities of 2007-2008
- The initiation ceremony was held in September at our institution, we received 15 new members for this year. Faculty and friends gathered to celebrate.
- At the beginning of the first semester the club organized a welcome activity that introduced the new chapter members and freshmen to the world of Ecology. The activity was a 3-day camping field trip to the south of the island (Cabo Rojo) which has great habitat diversity. First we went to a protected area near a public beach (Buyé) and an official from the Puerto Rico’s natural resources office showed us part of the vast grassland and endemic trees inhabiting that area, later we went to the Mangrove area next to the bay and learned about mangrove ecology in Puerto Rico. That same day we stayed at Buyé beach and went snorkeling jotting down observations to design a quick research project divided by groups of 4 or 5. Later at night the groups gathered all the data and looked for information in some books that our mentor brought for us and we presented our posters. The next day we went on a 2 hour walk from Combate Beach to the Lighthouse. During the walk we could appreciate the wetlands and the huge salt marshes, when we got to the light house, the guard gave us a tour and talked about the history of Cabo Rojo, the lighthouse, and some extra ghost stories!
- Our second activity was a collaborative field trip to caves Ventana and Del Indio with UPR-RioPiedra’s AKKA-SEEDS chapter where president and speleologist Manuel Sanfiorenzo talked about cave ecology. In this trip the students were able to obeserve the different organisms and physical characteristics that make up a cave. After half an hour dedicated to observations, groups gathered and discussed their observations. For many of our members this was the first time visiting a cave system like this.
- We were very proud to be the recipient of the SEEDS Special Project grant. The project consists on a long term research to study the demography and distribution of hermit crabs (Coenobita clypeatus) at two totally different locations in PR. Hermit crabs are poorly studied in Puerto Rico. The only time they get attention is once in a year in an event called “cobada” (when they move from sea to land). They develop at sea but by the time they molt they are able to breathe like a normal crustacean and have to move out of the water to the land. Juan Nieves and Zuania Colón are the main researchers in this project, but they have involved collaborators which are members of the chapter. Every research day we recruit 10 volunteers and before starting our day at the field Zuania and Juan give a presentation on hermit crabs, what the essence of the research is all about, and how to handle and measure hermit crabs as well as the shells.
- Diana Guzmán shared her experience at Chiapas, Mexico through a presentation called “Transformación de paisajes forestales y agroforestales en el sur de México: consecuencias para la biodiversidad, conservación y sustento rural.” Transformation of forest and agroforest landscapes in south México: consequences for biodiversity, conservation, and rural sustainability
- Belén Rosado had the opportunity to attend a SEEDS field trip to Santa Bárbara, California and to the Leadership Meeting at North Carolina.
- On the second semester we continued with the Special Project, going to the field one weekend every month.
- We had a special overnight fieldtrip were one of our mentors, Dr. Alex Sloan, showed us where he had seen bioluminescent fungus at the Yunque National Forest –El Verde LTER. It coincided with a visit Dr. Ta’i Roulston form the University of Virginia made to PR. Many of us had never seen such fungi and were very excited.
- We visited fellow member Tatiana Figueroa’s farm, her dad is a local coffee grower. The purpose of this field trip was to help him build insect traps for the coffee borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) that affects the coffee seed. Fortunately this hasn’t been a problem in Puerto Rico, but it’s better to prevent than regret!
- Our highlight for second semester is the BioBlitz. This is a 24 hour event
where professors from different institutions come to our University as mentors
for our students. During these exiting 24 hours we have conferences, organism
identification, food and other entertainment activities. Students get to
choose one or various groups to work in. This year’s groups were: Entomology,
Ornithology, Herpetology, Mycology, Microbiology, Bats, Botany, Parasites and
small aquatic invertebrates. The conferences were: Biodiversity of the
University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, Citizen-Scientist program offered by the
Conservation trust of Puerto Rico, Science and Culture, Fishing threads
Last year we identified 256 species, this year was 222.
- Concepción Rodríguez-Fourquet
- Steven Sloan