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Harvard College, Degree Candidate in Environmental Science and Public Policy

The Great Cave at Niah

‎ Hi, my name is Douwe Yntema and I am a junior at Harvard.

Research Interests: I am interested in conservation and policy work here in Borneo, in particular as to how they relate to larger scale environmental problems in the developing world. I am also interested in general field ecology practice and methods. Thus far I have enjoyed the rigors and rewards of tough field work. I have also realized the difficulties of plotting every tree in a rainforest of diameters > 1 cm and have come to appreciate studies involving such techniques. If I had to choose a particular forest dynamic of interest, it would be succession and early successional species (fairly broad – I know). In the future I hope to be involved in either alternative energy resources or carbon trading.

Personal info: I grew up far away from both Cambridge and Borneo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Throughout my life I have enjoyed swimming competitively (I am on the Harvard Varsity Swimming and Diving team) and participating in other sports. By some luck and wonderful parents, I have enjoyed extensive travel to Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and now Borneo.

Coursework: Throughout the course we completed three short group projects. These projects generally involved three days of field work followed by one or two days of analysis and writing. Individually, we each picked a “focal taxon” to study and document through the duration of the course. Below you may see group projects to which I contributed and my own “focal taxon” work.

Maliau Project: Drip-tips by Douwe Yntema, Mohd Ridwan A. Rahman and Imesh Nuwan Bandara

This was our longest and most work intensive project. Our group wanted to help determine the function of drip tips, or narrow aspices of leaves common in the tropical rain forest understory. While research has shown that drip tips hasten leaf drying time, it has yet to conclusively show that they act as a defensive measure against epiphyll growth. We found that leafs with proportionally larger drip tips had less epyphyll percentage covering.

Gaya Project: Clownfish by Douwe Yntema, Sreekar R., Abigail Schoenberg

This was our shortest project which occurred in the coral reefs around Gaya Island (Padang Point Reef, Sepi Island Coral Garden and Sepi Island Jetty). Our group studied two species of anemone fish, Premnas biaculeatus and Amphiprion ocellaris, in order to determine if community size influenced aggressive defense of anemones. We found that aggression was primarily species specific.

Lambir Project: Liana by Andrew Brownjohn, Douwe Yntema, Molley Rooney

This was our first project. Our group studied liana growth in Lambir Hills CTFS 52 Ha plot. We thought that tree bark characteristics may influence their growth. We found a significant difference between the number of lianas found on trees with peeling vs. non-peeling bark and between the number of lianas found on trees with non-peeling smooth vs. fissured bark. Our group found that lianas may be more likely to be found on trees with non-peeling bark.

My Focal Taxon: Ferns (Dennstaedtiaceae and Gleicheniaceae)