Rising bright and early for our second day in Monteverde we prepared for a day experiencing potential ideas for our main projects, eager to get stuck in researching our chosen subject. A hike in the cloud forest to increasing elevations began our morning, letting us observe the changes in the surrounding forest along the way, with Moncho, Sarah, Regan and the Andy’s sharing their wisdom with us along the way.
As we ascended we spotted large numbers of small pink flowers, begonias, peppering the path edges. Begonias are one of masses of interesting plants to be found in the rainforest (yes Regan, you have managed to persuade us!). They exhibit leaf adaptations known as drip tips, point that range from 1 to 7 per leaf, which are thought to aid in water dispersal.
Next we spent time discussing figs and their relationship with parasitic wasps. Break open the fruit of certain fig species and inside you will find flowers! These flowers are differing sizes, some being perfect for a specific parasitic wasp that use them to lay their eggs. Male offspring lack wings and so function in defense and to create an exit tunnel in the fig. Once hatched the newly emerged female wasps act as pollinators, spreading pollen to other fig trees, clever eh?
Luckily for us rain wasn’t in sight and the sun even made an appearance, but as usual with our hikes so far it wasn’t all plain sailing! One of the first obstacles reached was a huge landslide which we had to precariously cross by wading through mud and balancing along tree trunks.
This was followed by a plethora of fallen trees to navigate, as always this made it an entertaining journey with the probability of slipping over rather high!
Eventually we reached the continental divide, from the Pacific to the Caribbean side of the country, and therefore our goal for the day was almost in sight. At the maximum elevation for the day we entered what is dubbed the ‘elven’ forest due to the extreme height difference in trees in this area compared to the majority of the cloud forest. These stubby moss covered trees known as elves created a picturesque yet eery atmosphere, reminiscent of a scene straight from Lord of the Rings.
After taking in this beautiful scenery we began the return hike back through the cloud forest, now pretty much pros at navigating the jungle pathways!
In the afternoon we visited the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, Bajo del Tigre. Moncho lead a discussion covering national park conservation and the difficulties there is in buying up areas of land for protection. A few points within the park are still farmed but the owners price for buying the land is often far too high, however other methods are being considered such as land relocation rather than sale. To conclude our field sessions for the day we explored Bajo del Tigre, and during our meander through this part of dry forest we encountered howler monkeys, tarantulas and elegant glass butterflies.
The remainder of the day was spent in our project groups discussing further ideas for exciting research to undertake, from hummingbird dominance to begonia drip tips. We are all looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the research we are soon to undertake. With the next couple of days to perfect our projects in Monteverde we are set to get some exciting data from the 10 field course groups so watch out for our next blog post summing up our presentations!
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sf343 January 25th, 2017 Costa Rica, Costa Rica archive Bajo del Tigre, begonias, children's eternal rainforest, cloud forest, Costa Rica, drip tips, eggs, elevations, elven forest, Field Course, figs, glass butterflies, hike, howler monkeys, Hummingbirds, landslide, Monteverde, parasitic wasps, pollinators, preparation, presentation, research, tarantulas