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Unfinished business

It is time for me to say goodbye to Xishuangbanna, goodbye to my newfound friends, and goodbye to the wonderful biodiversity that is present here.

However it is not time for me to say goodbye to the project that I have been working on.

I still have lots of work to do.

While living at Xishuangbanna tropical botanical garden I have been working on several projects. Small ones like the orchid propagation, I previously talked about, and a short communication to do with the illegal wildlife trade but my main project has been to use a tool called MaxEnt to map predicted populations of two orchid species from the area.

The orchid species are Dendrobium thyrsiflorum and Luisia magniflora.

Both of these species are epiphytic, they live on the trunks of trees. They are found widely in the area but come under multiple stresses that have endangered them regionally: Both species are commonly wild harvested and rubber plantations have replaced 22% of Xishuangbanna’s natural habitat, a significant portion of it being these species’ habitats. I am interested in the impact of both these stresses on wild orchid populations.

When using MaxEnt, one uses two things:

* Known locations of the species you are interested in.

* Environmental variables of the landscape you are interested in. These can be the density of trees, soil content, average temperature, whether or not there is a road nearby etc.

MaxEnt combines these known presence points and environmental variables to determine what encompasses the species’ ecological niche, producing a potential distribution of the focus species

Essentially, MaxEnt is a tool that looks at all the places we know a species exists and figures out what things about these places the species likes. Then it looks at the rest of the landscape and figures out where else the species could exist.

It sounds very simple but there is a lot of preparation that goes into MaxEnt. I am nearly at the prepared point and I should hopefully get some results soon.

I’ll let you know when I do, but for now it is time to go.

Goodbye, China. I will miss you dearly.Sophie, Faith and I in Heathrow airport about to set off on our adventureSophie, Faith and I in Heathrow airport about to set off on our adventure

Publication date: 1 June 2015

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