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Life after LGGS

Expedition

Life after lggs

In 2016 I travelled to Honduras with LGGS’ Operation Wallacea trip, where I gained hands-on experience of tropical rainforest ecology. Dr Cook, Mr Pim and Mrs Linnell accompanied us on the trip and their influence on the way we conducted ourselves when carrying out the scientific methods in the field, is something I’ve endeavoured to mirror as a Zoologist at University.

Since leaving LGGS, the school has helped me fundraise for the University’s expedition by allowing me to return with a craft stall at Christmas and Mrs Cahalin, helped me create links to the Rotary Club of Lancaster whilst I was in school, who were generous enough to provide a grant which contributed towards my fundraising efforts for a second expedition.

This time I flew to Guyana, a small country in South America which is roughly the size of the UK but has a population of just 775,000, less than that of Lancashire. I travelled there for just over 6 weeks with 6 fellow University students to carry out vital zoological research in the country’s Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA); a recently designated National Park containing some of the most pristine, biodiverse and untouched rainforests on the Earth.

The reason for the expedition was to collect data on the richness and diversity of the species found in the KMPA. As well as an amphibian project looking at the abundance of frogs, and a camera trapping project aimed at capturing footage of mammals such as jaguar and giant anteater; I was predominantly involved in a bat study. This looked at the differences in the numbers of bat species between the 12 sampling sites we set up. This meant that every night for 4 weeks our team set up 4m high mist nets in various locations and monitored them from 5pm – 10pm, identifying and recording every bat we caught in the nets. A total of 251 bats were caught during the expedition, and the data collected has helped the Protected Areas Commission of Guyana in their conservation efforts of their National Park. Throughout my time in Guyana I gained so much incredibly relevant experience for my Zoology BSc, in handling bats and frogs and the knowledge of 80+ bat species identifications, but I also acquired many skills from working so closely with my team in such remote conditions for many weeks. We made our own camps and slept in hammocks, fished for piranha and built the things we needed. It was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.

Honduras first made me love the rainforest and its incredible diversity and remoteness, and spending so much time in the heart of Guyana has cemented my reasoning for studying Zoology. I hope to take everything taught to me at LGGS and University of Glasgow and work in ecological conservation, to study, research and protect the incredible biodiversity we have across the globe.

In 2019 I will be returning to Guyana with the University’s Exploration Society, this time as expedition leader. This summer not only will I lead a team of students back to the KMPA to continue our research, but I will collect data for my own honours project. I hope to work with bats again and to write a dissertation on the spread and diversity of bat parasites among different species of bat.

The endless support I received from my teachers during my time at LGGS has allowed me to develop at University and become confident in my ability to both lead another team to Guyana and fulfil my role as the Zoological Society’s Vice President for 2018/19. I would encourage anyone to take full advantage of the clubs and societies provided for you if you go to Uni. Even whilst at LGGS, being involved in any extra-curricular activities, or organising events and fundraisers – just getting involved in things you’re interested in gives you the motivation to push yourself and find things you’re really into pursuing.

Megan  
2016 Leaver  

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