The first day of real data collection, in the Wayqecha plot. The whole team is out there. It was wonderful to see the whole collection team in motion: the climbers collecting the branches, Allie measuring tree structure and crown diameters, Katie's team sorting leaves for chemical analysis, Lisa's team working on photosynthesis, Chris's team on leaf spectra, then other carefully labelling and running the samples to the lab, where others analyse for herbivory, scan leaves and dry for weighing. An amazing operation. The start is slow and clunky, but there is time to get this into a well-oiled operation. It is wonderful to see all this activity, all stemming from a single grant.
The leadership from the project post docs (Lisa and Norma) is wonderful and essential. But the only way this incredible project is at all feasible is through the army of hard working, enthusiastic Cusco students. They are just incredible in their enthusiasm and motivation, and also lovely company. This project couldn't begin to exist without them.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University