November in Panama: cooler weather, heavy rainy season, low fruit production, and stressed animals. This is also the time of the year when agoutis go back and eat their cached seeds. This year, the agoutis depleted most of their caches by the end of November. The bulk of seeds were eaten in July, August, and September. This also means that we don’t have many seeds left in the ground. After continuously following 222 seeds over the past six months, we now only have 18 seeds remaining. It also means that we don’t have much remaining work for the project’s chief field assistant; Sumana Serchan. In November, Sumana packed up the lab, helped clean up two years of accumulated mess, did one last big census of caches (from both 2009 and 2010) and left BCI. While Sumana will surely be missed on BCI, I’m sure her friends and family in Vermont are happy to see her back home. The entire agouti seed dispersal project crew thanks Sumana for her hard work and dedication! While the project doesn’t have any full time members living on BCI (for the first time since October 2008), that doesn’t mean the project has stopped entirely. We still have a few seeds left to monitor! Seed checking duties are now being taken over by Jose Alejandro Silva Ramirez (or Alejo for short) who has worked with us tracking agoutis and Dipteryx seeds in 2009. Alejo was also a superstar tamandua catcher while working with Danielle Brown on her dissertation thesis project. We promise Alejo that monitoring and tracking the remaining seed caches will not involve any animals attempting to gouge him with sharp claws. Anyway, we welcome Alejo, and are excited to see what, if anything, happens to the remaining seeds over the coming months.
Sumana in the field