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Day 2: Sacred Forests of Ethiopia – Field Research

By Catherine Cardelús on January 10, 2015

Day 2: This morning we had our first cup of authentic Ethiopian coffee to start the day. We broke into groups and half of us went toFicus the bank to exchange currency and the other half went on a hunt for lunch supplies. We visited four different stores to find bread, peanut butter and water before being dragged by a stranger to a vibrant market in order to find a knife for our peanut butter. It was interesting how it was so difficult to find what we needed even with someone who spoke the language. We also experienced mobs of people gathering around us and following us down the street, mesmerized by our every move. Once both groups got what we needed, we met up and drove an hour north to find the forest. We had to off road it on a very bumpy road and found a degraded forest.

Enter forest with wall. The objective of the ecological research is to determine the ecological status of a subset of forests. We do this by establishing plots within each forest and measure tree growth and diversity, seedling density and diversity, and overall human use (e.g. trails, buildings, gathering areas). Our first forest was certainly overwhelming, especially because Lindsay and Kayleigh had never done this before. The bishop was singing on a loudspeaker while we had to walk through gatherings of people praying. There were many people and many worshipping because Ethiopian Christmas is on December 7th.End of a long day!

We set up our three plots and collected litter, foliar, and soil samples rather quickly before taking a break for lunch. Alemayehu, a collaborator and expert on these sacred forests, convinced everyone to go out to lunch in town instead of making sandwiches. This was our first authentic Ethiopian meal. We ordered cokes, injera, and various stews. We concluded our lunch with coffee, which made Professor Klepeis very happy. Feeling refreshed and refueled, we headed to our second forest of the day. We had trouble locating it since it was about three miles off the main road. Our cars drove us across the planes, over piles of dirt, across rivers, all the while chased my children yelling “you, you!”. When the cars could not take us any further, we got out and walked the rest of the day. It is important to recognize that this forest would not be accessible during the wet season. We arrived at the church and only had time to complete one plot. We cut it close in terms of timing because the sun went down before we were able to reach the main road, making Alemayehu very nervous. When we returned to our hotel, we quickly realized that there was no water to take a shower or flush the toilets. We ended up going to dinner fairly dirty and staying up late to process all of the samples in the room. The hotel is in a very noisy area, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Field research at its finest!

By Mabel

Day 1: Sacred Forests of Ethiopia-Field Research

By Catherine Cardelús on January 8, 2015
Map of Ethiopia from Lonely Planet. Our base is Bahar Dar (yellow star) which is on Lake Tana, the headwaters of the Nile.

Map of Ethiopia from Lonely Planet. Our base is Bahar Dar (yellow star) which is on Lake Tana, the headwaters of the Nile.

Day 1: After 4 flights, 3 continents, 6 airplane meals, 8 cups of coffee, 7 movies, 3 Ebola checkpoints and 32 hours of traveling later, we made it to Bahar Dar around 8pm local time. We checked into our hotel, grabbed dinner, and geared up for our first day in the field.

By: Kayleigh, Lindsay, & Mabel

Conservation of Sacred Forests in Ethiopia – Field Research 2015

By Catherine Cardelús on January 8, 2015

Researchers from Colgate University, Drs. Cardelús & Woods (Biology), and Drs. Klepeis & Scull (Geography), and colleagues in Ethiopia (Drs. Wassie & Orlowska, Ecologist and Historian) received funding Map of Ethiopiafrom the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate to study the mechanisms of sacred forest conservation in Ethiopia. These sacred forests are important because they are the last remaining forests in northern Ethiopia and provide many ecosystem services to community members including shade, water, and a covering for their church which sits at the center of the forest. This year the research team (Drs. Woods, Klepeis, & Scull) and three students (Kayleigh, Lindsay, & Mabel) are establishing longterm ecological monitoring plots to determine the ecological status of a subset of forests and conducting interviews of community members to determine their relationship and management of those forests.

Students will be maintaining a blog of the trip, so please check back!


All checked in, through security, ready to go.

2015 Research Team. From the bottom: Peter Scull, Kayleigh Bhangdia ’16, Mabel Baez ’15, Peter Klepeis, Carrie Woods, & Lindsay McCulloch ’16



Professor Cardelus leads research trip to Costa Rica

By Contributing Writer on July 12, 2013

Catherine Cardelús, assistant professor of biology, and 12 Colgate students went on  a six-week research trip to Costa Rica. Learn about their daily activities at http://www.catherinecardelus.com/blog/.

Students discuss biology summer research experience

By Contributing Writer on June 27, 2013
Valerie Garcia '15 and Brandon Cope '15 are biology interns funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Valerie Garcia ’15 and Brandon Cope ’15 are biology interns funded by the National Institutes of Health.

(Note: This post was written by Valerie Garcia ’15 and Brandon Cope ’15)

This summer we are working with Professor Ken Belanger investigating nuclear transport of proteins in yeast cells, seeking to better understand how a cell regulates the movement of materials in and out of its nucleus. This paid research internship started in late May and will take us into early August, and is funded by a research grant to Colgate from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Along with working in the lab, we have also presented our research topic to the other summer undergraduate researchers and professors; our summer research will culminate in a final poster presentation to the biology department during our last week in lab. Read more