Dry season pod in February 2019.
Towards the end of February, 2019 we spend some days at the study area as we usually do, from time to time. However, this year I was specially surprise about the weather changes observed during this dry season. In the study area there is two main seasons: a dry season (usually from December – March) and a wet season (April – November). Usually on dry season the small stream that cross some of the forest fragments where we observe the monkeys dry out during some weeks between January and February, but not completely. You can find a couple of small pods in certain parts of the forest and near to the farmhouse. However, in 2019 only one of the permanent pods was still present. It wasn’t a properly pod, it was looking more like a muddy spot surrounded by dry sand from the dry stream bed.
In past years, specially 2005 we had seen the stream dried a lot, but those pods usually remains, and you could see birds as well as cattle and horses drinking there, not this year. But why this year the pods dried that much?
In past years, 2013 and 2014 there was a boom of petrol exploitation in the area. Seismic surveys were done near to almost all streams in the area in search of petrol. Although most of the people in town and cattle ranchers were mainly happy, some wasn’t. I remember specially a guy from one of farms we visited in 2014, who was complaining that he wasn’t agree with that, he had seen how after the petrol company finished their explorations in an area, all the streams were dry, it seems a family member of his had lost his land because it became so dried that nothing growth there. Can this be what is happening in this area now?
The area had a good phreatic level and is usual that most farms have their own well, even in the town houses. But this year even the small river crossing the town dried more than years before. And it’s not only about how dry all those streams were this year it was also about how much this year dry season lasted.
For the first time in 15 years, the rainy season properly started in May not April, as usual. In past years by the time Easter arrives, the stream near to the farmhouse usually had a lot of water and even some years it flood over the stream bank almost to the house. However, this year wasn’t even close to the stream bank. Some scarce rains had fallen towards the end of April but not enough to make the stream rise.
Can be this part of what climate change will produce in this area? If yes, farmers need to start adapting as this long dry season have a strong impact on their meat production and even the survivorship of their livestock.
Additional to this, what will be the effect on the forest fragment fruit production? that had its higher peak in this area in April. Although we found several trees producing fruits during our visit in May, it doesn’t seem as high as it was on other years, although we don’t have number to test this. How these changes will affect the primates on these forest fragments? and what can we do to mitigate these effects? Those are some of the questions that start rising now that changes in precipitation patterns are starting to arise. More detailed monitoring of precipitation patterns and even temperature changes are probably need it to see if new weather trend are emerging in this area and how humans and wildlife can adapt to those changes.
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Farm stream flooded in Easter 2006.