After two days of data collection and frantic presentation prep the time to show off our findings has arrived! Here’s a summary of a few of the brilliant research topics from Field Course Costa Rica this year…
Why do begonia leaves have varying drip tip numbers?
For our group project we ventured back into the cloud forest assessing begonia plants at different elevations. Our first question was, does drip tip number vary with elevation? To investigate this we used the path as a transect and recorded the number of drip tips on 3 plants at each selected elevation, ranging 10 meters either side of this point. Our other question, does epiphyl number vary with drip tip number, was studied by collecting leaf samples with different drip tip numbers and calculating the leaf area. Overall we had great fun researching for this project, luckily our choice of begonias mean’t that despite the rain we could still collect some great data, despite the lack of trends that we observed!
Findings: Contrary to what we thought we would observe we saw no variation in drip tip number with elevation, but this could’ve been affected by the changes in canopy cover along with other factors. We also found that the number of epiphyls didn’t vary with drip tip number, due to this result we hypothesised that drip tip could keep epiphyl coverage on the leaf constant in their environment.
How do leaf cutter ants move in cohesion?
We added tin foil hats as weight on to the top of the leaf and measured how fast the ant was going. Studying ants was great as there are so many individuals and they weren’t particularly effected by the rain!
Findings: adding more weight to an ants load makes them move slower, and vice versa.
Does hummingbird dominance behaviour differ with food quality?
Hummingbirds can be very territorial and aggressive towards one another. We wanted to see whether these dominance behaviours would differ according to food quality, so we set up high and low sugar concentration feeders at a hummingbird café. It was amazing to witness these habituated animals whirring around our heads in aerial battles. A few curious olingos and coatis didn’t go amiss either, mind.
Findings: We found that the big bad Violet Sabrewing was the most dominant species, we identified 3 principal tactics and found that hummingbirds were indeed more likely to displace each other for the high quality feeder!
– Insect variation in wet and dry environments
– Where are the bark beetles hiding?
– Hummingbird feeding preferences
– The effect of Epidendrum radicans distribution on pollination levels
– How leaf cutter ants find the trail
– Piper plant herbivory and edge effects
With such a diverse range of project titles we can definitely all say we have learnt masses from this experience, and having the opportunity to conduct our very own research project has given us an insight into the research process despite this only being over 2 days! With the pressure of presentations behind us we are all anticipating our night at the San Gerardo field station, and our final location, Playa Grande!
Don’t miss our final days of field course Costa Rica!
sf343 January 25th, 2017 Costa Rica, Costa Rica archive bark beetles, begonia, biological station, coatis, cohesion, Costa Rica, dominance, drip tips, edge effects, elevations, epidendrum radicans, epiphyls, Field Course, food quality, herbivory, Hummingbirds, insect variation, leafcutter ants, Monteverde, olingo, Playa Grande, pollination, presentations, research