Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Rattan territory (Part 1)

The climbing palms of the tropics - rattan or "Rotan" in Malay
Location : Provinsi Rattan, Zone I

Note the moisty thick organic floor
and the exposed smooth and shiny cane.
 Adventuring into the Provinsi Rattan this morning, I noticed the half dozen species that grow  in the area are doing well.  Rattans are the climbing palms of the lowland tropical rainforests.  They come in many sizes and quality and therefore offer varying commercial value.  The many uses of rattan is well covered in a blog post I made a few years ago as in here.   In the Provinsi Rattan there is ample canopy cover that create the most ideal climate and habitat for the survival of rattans. They find their way up the forest canopy by means of special whiplike organs (flagellum) armed with hundreds reflexed or recurved thorns which grows on the ends of the leaf sheaths or on the leaf sheaths, depending on the species.   What is important here is to preserve the green canopy above and at the same time the thick layer of dead organic matter on the ground floor.  On the ground is where the seeds will germinate provided that the precise soil conditions are met and the moisture content correct and consistent over long periods because the seeds may take between one to six months to germinate.  This implies that once humans destroy the forest and expose it to direct sunlight the rattans seeds will not be able to germinate for posterity.  You can harvest the rattans but in doing so you must keep the green canopy and forest floor unaltered.
Flagellum- the whiplike  climbing organ derived from the inflorescence bearing reflexed spines.

Termites nest size of a soccer ball

Termites nest, size of a soccer ball with opening at the bottom.  Nest is build around a vine.
Location : Provinsi Rattan

White termites at the core 
 I stumbled upon a termites nest at Provinsi Rattan today.  The nest made-up of mud was a web of cavities and channels.  In it I found white termites and there were hundreds at the core or center of the nest.  Termites have a very important role in jungle ecology where they're best in decomposing dead plant materials and thus help clear the forest of dead wood or fallen trunks.  In one specimen of the nest which was the size of a soccer ball I saw an opening below the nest.  Could it be the hole made by the ant-eaters in search for the young termites inside the nest?
Nest made up of mud.  Termites build nests underground or in mud moulds  against dead tree trunks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sunlight and mythical presence

Early morning light filtered through maze of branches and leaves
Location : Provinsi Rattan

Mythical presence
 I am starting to carry more jungle trailing in the early morning now.  There's plenty of ground to be covered.  More areas to explore.  I followed the Kambatik stream as it meanders  through the Provinsi Rattan for about 10 meters and then decided to climb a nearby slope to check out the vegetation.  I was pleased to see rays of light filtering through the dense maze of branches and leaves.  It created a mythical presence especially when it hit one sapling in the midst of the jungle darkness.  In the lowland rainforest less amount of light reaches the ground.  As a result it does not permit the growth of grass.  Furthermore the thick layer of dead leaves and organic litter strangle any invading grass species.  Walking in the jungle means stepping on many dead organic matter and overcoming hurdles of fallen branches, twigs and even trunks of trees.  There are also many saplings scattered about that we have to pass through.  The morning trailing was rewarded by an encounter with the fan palm which the Malays call "Palas" or Licuala ferruginea and it was a fruiting specimen.
The Kambatik stream passing by the area which is home to many species of rattan
Location: Provinsi Rattan
Licuala ferruginea - Palas (Malay)
Spherical fruits of the 'Palas'

Friday, November 27, 2015

Vines and lianas at Licuala hill

View of vines and lianas at Licuala hill

Initial notes

Created this blog today at Kambatik Park, Bintulu.
This blog focus is on the understanding of lowland forest ecology as found in the natural forest vegetation islands and forest fringes preserved in Kambatik nature park.