With a loud slurp from the release of suction, Dr. Joost van Haren extracts himself from a hole, covered in pungent mud up to his hips and breathing heavily from the effort. Grinning, the professor tells me and the two other students: “You can see why there aren’t many people who do this kind of work.” Our research group continues on at a turtle’s pace, moving deeper into the Peruvian rainforest. The dry leaves that cover the trail here are deceptive, hiding deep mud holes and brittle hollow logs. These aren’t the only challenges faced by the scientists that study this region, who brave searing ant bites and needle-like thorns to get closer to the mysteries of the Amazonian wetlands. One hour after leaving the small community of Buena Vista in Loreto, Peru, we arrive at the area of research marked by labeled trees and boundaries, where the team is going to measure methane emitted from the trees and soil.
See my full article about the field research I documented in the Peruvian Amazon here: