2015-01-28 17:35:00 • Post by Tran Triet
Notes from the field

Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Northern Plain, Cambodia – the heartland of the open Dipterocarp forest ecosystem of Southeast Asia. Eight of us, four Cambodian, a Laotian and three Vietnamese, just finished a field survey to map wetlands and locate Sarus crane nests. This was the first field excursion under a research project funded by USGS and SUMMERNET. It rained hard almost every day, especially at night. Monsoonal rains filled up wetlands to their fullest water holding capacity, turning a desert-like forest of half-a-year ago into virtually a waterworld. Water is everywhere. We often couldn’t tell where the wetland ended and where the upland began. The whole sanctuary (some 400,000 hectares) has transformed itself into a gigantic wetland at this time of the year. Everywhere there are water, aquatic plants, birds, fishes, frogs, crabs, snails – and lots of them. What else would we ask for from a wetland? Life fully manifested itself, indulging in the luxury of abundance water and foods, busy producing offspring for the generations to come and, perhaps most importantly, storing enough energy to endure a harsh dry season that will very soon descend upon them.

For a wetland botanist, few things could make him as happy as seeing so many wetland plants in full bloom. Many of these plants would either disappear or unidentifiable in the dry season. We can’t wait to return to this sanctuary in May or early June at the onset of the rainy season, an ecological equivalence of spring time in the Midwest, when a special group of wetland plants will bloom. These “spring ephemeral” plants have short life and can only be seen during the time when the dry season progresses to the wet. That is also the time when the Sarus cranes return to their breeding grounds.

Siem Riep, Cambodia

10/7/2014

Triet

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