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So called Indigenous, or Traditional Knowledge (ITK) is viewed by many western scientists with a combination of amusement and doubt, and almost always, implicit judgement. But what if we apply the methods of analysing ITK to western science? After all, western science began its long walk to hegemony as the folk knowledge of the peoples of the Mediterranean region. This exercise will likely prove both illuminating and humbling.
Writing in the journal Nature this week, KU entomologist Michael Engel and an international research team have described the oldest definitive fleas to date: giant fleas from the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous of China.
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For more than 140 years, KU scientists and students have collected and studied Earth's animals and plants. Only a few of these specimens are on display for the public in the exhibits of the KU Natural History Museum; milions more are in jars or on shelves throughout the Biodiversity Institute's research areas.
A country with a tropical climate that varies greatly from beach to mountain, Costa Rica features abundant and diverse insects. Return to the 2011 Costa Rica expedition page.
Collecting insects requires a variety of different methods. For example, trapping insects at night might require different equipment than during the day. Some insects live in the soil, in or near water, on small plants and on trees, so collection methods change depending on the type of habitat, too. These photographs show some of the collection methods used by Andrew Short, entomology curator, during a 2010 expedition in Costa Rica. Return to the 2011 Costa Rica expedition page.
Curator Andrew Short collected aquatic insects in the rain forests of Costa Rica in 2010, and will return to the country with a research team in July 2011. To follow the group's work, visit the Costa Rica 2011 expedition page.
Why mosquitoes? Of all the amazing and beautiful rain forest animals to study, why would anyone want to work with this lowly, annoying bug that drives us crazy while sitting on porches on summer evenings? They spread disease, too. Why would anyone want to mess with that?
My side project for this trip was to study arthropod diversity in two species of heliconia plants. I worked on the project with Riley and Tom. In both species we looked in leaf rolls and in inflorescences of the plant. We unrolled the leaves and dissected the flower. It was interesting as with each opening it was exciting to see what kind of animals we would find. We ended up seeing about 10 species repeatedly, but we had some surprises too.
By Bethany Christiansen
We are all now back home, having arrived on Monday, bleary-eyed. It's been a long few days, full of travel, packing, unpacking, repacking, and airport-sitting.
We woke early to catch the boat from the CICRA field station to Laberinto, then a bus to the airport, followed by a flight back to Lima. We spent a day and a half in Lima as we pleased, and then we prepared the specimens for their flight back to the U.S.