Field of Science

Tropical field trip

The Phactors are off on a tropical field trip having pretty much gotten the gardens put to bed for the winter. It has been 3 or so years since TPP's last visit to the tropics, so this is just more or less a natural history vacay whilst my colleagues teach rain forest ecology to a class of students. Nothing makes retirement seem better than watching someone else working hard to do what you used to do. It does make you empathetic to both parties, but someone has to drink that 2nd cup of good Costa Rica coffee. Of course TPP will be called upon for his plant expertise because this is another area where no one at our institution has any similar knowledge. It is too bad Vulcan mind-melds don't work; you can only acquire this knowledge the hard way by learning it yourself, although it does help to have a mentor showing you things. One hopes that students are curious enough to explore; TPP has learned a lot by just messing with things found along the way, non-vertebrate, non-stingy, non-bitey things, and even then you get surprised by things like nettles and anacards (sumac family). Weather forecast is simple: warm, wet. Regular storms are expected this time of year, but the weather looks like the real wet season. You expect some rain in the rain forest, but too much rain keeps the students from seeing and doing a lot of things.  The worst weather TPP ever saw at this part of Costa Rica was our course record of 444 mm of rain in 8 days which is about 18 inches.  Gush. You want to hear it, see it?  Here's a very brief clip (Costa Rican Sunshine) from an early digital camera in the late evening ("first thing you need to know about rainforest"). Hopefully a few posts from the rain forest will be possible.  

2 comments:

William Connolley said...

O/T but you might like (or dislike) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/more-than-half-of-the-worlds-plants-are-wrongly-named-a6736681.html

The Phytophactor said...

Hmm, on one hand as an herbarium curator, you find mistakes almost every time you paw through any portion of the collection, but half? That doesn't fit with my experience with tropical plants, but it may be that the collections I worked on were at an institution where a taxonomic expert for those groups existed. Students of course make a lot of mistakes, but most of those get easily corrected because they are fairly well known taxa. My opinion is that the article overstates the case.