Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 18th 2016 Contents B1
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Who in Trinidad doesn t love a good river
lime? Some folks leave from early in the
morning to visit their favourite river
spot, to picnic, splash around and just have family
fun. Others have parties by the river, with loud music
on portable sound systems. And of course, no lime
seems complete without a proper cook-up, often on
a coal pot or small portable barbecue. Some limes,
fuelled by rum and curry duck, can go on late into
Long popular among Trinis of Indian heritage, river
limes are not the only human uses of our river areas.
Hikers, religious pilgrims including Shouter Baptists
and Hindus, eco-adventurers and nearby river residents
all also visit rivers and may affect natural life there---
impacts which we, for the most part, don t even con-
The real river residents are the fish, other animals
and plants which live there. Even the microbes in the
river water may be affected by our presence---or by
what we leave behind, whether it s trash; food; soap
from washing dishes, clothes or bodies; chemicals;
candle wax; religious oils or various other substances
which we humans leave unthinkingly in or beside rivers.
Dr Amy Deacon, a British scientist who s been in
Trinidad since 2010, decided to study some of these
human impacts on the fish life in our rivers. Dr Deacon
was a postdoctoral research associate at the University
of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, and is now a lecturer
at UWI. She is passionate about conserving diverse
biological life, and is involved in the BioTIME project.
BioTIME project: How do
species survive change?
The BioTIME project is funded by the European
Research Council, and aims to explore why some species
are so common while others are rare, and how the
structure of a biological community persists through
time. How do species withstand change, and how do
they recover from it over time?
"Trinidad s rainforest-covered mountains are the
location of the BioTIME Trinidad project. Here, the
numerous parallel streams of Trinidad s Northern Range
provide an ideal natural laboratory for investigating
patterns of biodiversity over time," wrote Dr Deacon
in her online blog for the project.
"As a post-doc on the project, my job includes coor-
dinating the data collection and managing an enthu-
siastic team of field and lab assistants---as well as many
hours wading through some of the most (and least!)
beautiful streams on the island," she wrote.
The Guardian caught up with Dr Deacon at her UWI
office on Tuesday for an update on the project. Deacon
recently published her research paper---From
Species to Communities: The Signature of
Recreational Use on a Tropical River
Ecosystem---in the journal Ecology
and Evolution. The paper explores
the effects of "recreational distur-
bance"---such as river limes---on
rivers and streams.
"The paper is one of the results
of the five-year BioTIME project,
which began in 2010. It s the reason
I moved to Trinidad," said Deacon.
"The project is a collaborative
effort between the University of
St Andrews in Scotland, and the
University of the West Indies.
The purpose of the project is to
collect long-term data on fresh-
water communities in Trinidad,
as part of a wider project of how biodiversity can
change over time."
The river lime study selected 16 river sites in the
Northern Range---eight pairs of sites, with each matched
pair of sites consisting of one well-known liming spot
and a nearby, less-disturbed, site. Then a small team
of researchers sampled these sites every three months
over a two-year period, identifying, measuring and
comparing the different species of life they found.
The study considered several levels: total fish biomass,
total fish species richness, diversity indices, and guppy
Researchers also noted the garbage they found at
these sites. Some sites, which started off as pristine,
became disturbed by people during the course of this
study, noted Deacon.
"With any natural community, some species
are going to be common and some are going
to be rare. The rare ones aren t nec-
essarily more endangered; they re
just different. So, for example,
some species of fish (like guppies)
will shoal together, which
means when you find one,
you re going to find 100.
Others, like the Zangee (the
swamp eel or Synbranchus
marmoratus), are more soli-
tary...We ll rarely find more
than one of those at a site
at a time, and that s normal,"
said Dr Deacon.
Apple will contest a court order to help FBI
investigators access data on the phone
belonging to San Bernardino gunman Syed
The company had been ordered to help the
FBI circumvent security software on Farook's
iPhone, which the FBI said contained crucial
In a statement, Apple chief executive Tim
Cook said: "The United States government has
demanded that Apple take an unprecedented
step which threatens the security of our
Since September 2014, data on the latest
Apple devices---such as text messages and
photographs---have been encrypted by default.
If a device is locked, the user's passcode is
required to access the data. Entering an
incorrect code ten times will automatically
erase the phone's data, if this option has been
enabled. Apple says even its own staff cannot
access the data---a move the company made
following the Edward Snowden revelations into
government surveillance. (BBC)
Apple rejects order to unlock gunman's phone
do affect fish
and their homes
Kharran reacts to a
found during a study
on the impact of
liming on river life.
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