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
The abundance of plants and verdancy in the rain forest makes for interesting relationships between plants and fungi. This gallery gives a sampling of the plants and fungi of the forest. Back to Peru 2011 home page.
This album catalogues our journey to and from the field station, as well as some candid moments in the rain forest. Back to Peru 2011 home page.
As I took more photos, light and darkness came to the fore. The sun hits the earth most directly at the equator, and though we were very near the equator, the group never needed sunscreen. The canopy gorges itself on sunlight. So little makes it to the forest floor that I nearly always struggled with sufficient lighting. There are many theories as to why there are so many species in the tropics, and Dr. Chaboo mentioned that the sheer amount of energy obtained through sunlight may fuel the rain forest's staggering diversity.
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.
Just prior to leaving for Peru, I was told of the exceptional cuisine that Lima had to offer. Before, I learned about cuy (pronounced “coo-ee”) – guinea pig. I imagined it as the staple dish that would be on the menu of every high-end Peruvian restaurant. It’s apparently not that meal and is, in fact, an Andean animal and is served in restaurants nearer the mountains. Instead, I’ve found that there are a lot of other amazing tastes this country has to offer.
My good fortune finally ran out. Up until Sunday evening I had experienced very little turbulence on this trip: the airplane flights were uneventful, in Lima I ate multiple things I probably shouldn’t have, they but didn’t cause any issues, I experienced maybe one mosquito bite, and I hadn’t suffered any physical injuries. Then Sunday night came, and I caught up on my suffering.