Blog for 2009-07-07

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Coral Fungus on the trail

Exploring Maliau, Day 1

After a long drive to Maliau, we had today to rest and explore our new site. In the morning we had a short hike across the river. The forest is almost completely untouched so there is amazing flora and fauna here! Just to name a few things we saw: hornbills, fruiting durian trees (EEEWWW!!), and gibbons. Also of note, the fugal organisms seem to be particularly diverse and abundant here in Maliau; we saw some colorful coral fungi while we were walking.

The sky bridge is amazing. It's bridges span about seven large trees through the canopy so it has an extensive and impressive view. It is SO impressive that Dorjee Sun, CEO of Carbon Conservation, finds it important enough to check out (celebrity spotting at sky bridge on July 17th). We also had one group choose to do a project using the sky bridge.

We had two lectures today. Swee Peck explain her research on the coevolution of the macaranga and decacrema ant mutualism. She found that some of the ants are highly host specific and that ants that excavate the macaranga stems and use non-waxy stemmed macarangas are highly derived. She also discussed how historical biogeography can explain the coevolution and distribution of macaranga and decacrema. Charles lectured on the basics of plate tectonics and how plate movements have affected the geology of Sabah. Specifically he discussed the various ways in which plate tectonics could have given Maliau Basin its unique shape.