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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending June 27, 2014 continued

July 14, 2014
Photo credit: Alexis Sykes

South Africa – Photo credit: Alexis Sykes

Asia Mosee

I cannot believe that I have been here for a month already. The time has gone by so fast. This week we learned a great deal about not only what we are doing for our research, but why. I may have explained in previous journal entries, our main focus for is developing suitability maps that will allow one to see where a particular species will be most suitable to live in future years. This week we gathered our occurrence data on 5 species. The occurrence data is an excel sheet full of the coordinate points where each species is located. We were able to gather this data from online sources. There are 5 spreadsheets for each of the species. We used these spreadsheets to as an input for a program called Maxent. (This program will generate the model of suitability for us). After we input the species’ excel file into Maxent we input the bio layers. The bio layers are the geographical layers (temperature, precipitation, location) of the world that were taken from the Internet and converted in to an ASCII file by using ArcGIS. Once the files are converted they are ready to be inputted into Maxent. Now if we were to just stop right there we could run the program and develop a model that shows where a species would be most suitable to live around the world based on the occurrence data (or where the species is currently living) and the climate in which the species is living.

Asia and Christina in New Zealand

Asia and Christina in New Zealand

Christina Pollonais

Besides our research, this week we visited Auckland’s well known flea market in Avondale. This was also very interesting and fun. It was so nice to see all the local vendors selling their fruits and vegetables, as well as, some were selling Mauri jewelry, clothing and some were even selling electronics. This was also very nice because many of these things were cheap in comparison to the expensive prices one would pay anywhere else for these items. It was also very fun because we were able to interact with locals. We spoke to them and ask questions and they were so friendly. Thus, I truly continue to enjoy my experience here in New Zealand, it is very informative, engaging and fun. I look forward to my last month here. Time has flew by so quickly and I know this month will pass by even faster. Therefore, I hope to savor and embrace each and every moment that is left.

Bianca in South Africa

Bianca in South Africa

Bianca Campbell

On Tuesday June 24th we traveled to Robben Island on a ferry. I expected Robben Island to be a big prison where Nelson Mandel was held, but it also included a small town with churches and a few homes. Touring the prison where Nelson Mandela was held was a great experience. We were able to see exactly what cell that he was held in, where him and other inmates did yard work, where other Blacks were held in the prison, and the living conditions that some inmates had to suffer from.

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