CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read a newspaper article in which a zoology student talks about her experience of doing practical research in an area of rainforest. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A – G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
Fieldwork in the rainforest of Ecuador – the experiences of a zoology student
When I was at school, I was a huge fan of TV wildlife programmes, and at a certain point I realised that somehow the natural world would have to be part of my life. So here I am a few years later, in the tropical rainforest of eastern Ecuador, a novice field scientist. The word scientist evokes various images, typically perhaps ones of laboratories and white coats, test tubes and lab rats. But what does it mean to be a field scientist?
I am currently spending a year at a small scientific research station in a remote patch of the Ecuadorian rainforest belonging to the Kichwa community of San Jose de Payamino. It is glorious – everything you would expect a tropical rainforest location to be, and a world away from my university in the UK. The air is hot and thick, the trees are densely packed, and everywhere is teeming with life.
The local people own the land and govern themselves, but the Ecuadorian government also provides for them: a school complete with computer room and satellite internet, for instance. Each year, they vote for a new president and vice-president, who organise the democratic community meetings. Each family has a finca in the forest: a wooden home on stilts.
But my normal life here as a work experience student revolves mainly around my personal research, which is a biodiversity study of frogs. I am trying to establish exactly which species are here, where and when I can find them, and what condition they are in.
For most of the time, I am just crawling along looking at leaves. Much of field research is like this. It isn’t all finding new species and being transfixed by exotic wildlife behaviour. Have you ever seen the behind-the-scenes footage at the end of many nature documentaries, where it turns out a cameraman has been sitting in a tree for three days waiting for a bird to dance? Research is like this – laborious and monotonous – but it can be rewarding too.
Being a field scientist basically means being an academic, collecting data and publishing scientific papers. It’s interesting but it doesn’t pay well, and getting started can be tough. When I was looking for work experience, there were plenty of openings with pharmaceutical companies, but very few matching my desire to explore and investigate wildlife.
This is one reason I count myself lucky to be involved in this project. It’s largely funded by my university, so I can afford it. Then, by the end of this year, I will have acquired valuable skills, and I am hopeful that the experience will facilitate my progression into postgraduate study.
A To do this, I walk slowly along several paths in the forest, accompanied by a local guide, and at night equipped with a torch. When I spot what I’m looking for, I feel an intense adrenaline rush. Will I manage to capture it? Have I collected this particular species yet?
В Because of this, and having experienced fieldwork, I’ve decided it’s definitely something I would like to do as a career. Once this year is over, I will ask my lecturers to advise me what to do next.
C This morning, for example, a half metre square of mushrooms sprouted on the dirt floor of my kitchen. My favourite time here is in the early evenings. It’s finally cool enough to be comfortable, and the nocturnal creatures begin their nightly cacophony, while the setting sun paints the trees orange.
D The reality is, however, that to make your way you need to build up a range of contacts and a portfolio of work. Many of the initial work opportunities that do exist are voluntary – in fact, you often have to pay to join a scheme. A student job where you are paid expenses, let alone a basic salary, is quite rare.
E By and large, they work outdoors, and are interested in pretty much everything from discovering new species to the effect of obscure parasites on ecosystems. They explore and investigate, aiming to understand what they observe. Just two years into my undergraduate zoology degree, I don’t quite qualify as one yet, but hopefully I’m heading that way.
F They have their own traditions, too. One day, a local lady was bitten by a lethal snake; whilst I administered shots of anti-venom to her, the local traditional healer, was applying plant remedies to the wound and attempting to suck the venom from it. At least one of the treatments must have worked because she recovered.
G And the thing is to imagine being the person that has made a discovery – the person who first questions something, investigates and then contributes to the vast catalogue of information that is science. I find this concept inspirational.