One of the most obvious and fascinating components of the Neotropics is the rich biodiversity. It is apparent from the moment you step outside. In an effort to appreciate the beauty of the diversity in my short time in Panama, I have included some of my favorite photos over the last couple of weeks. Some are of personal interest, but most are for aesthetic pleasure. Enjoy, as I have.
Black-throated trogon (Trogon rufus), Gamboa: I found this beautiful bird while walking along Pipeline Road looking for leaf cutter ants (Atta cephalotes). The intense coloration commanded my attention, and I immediately found the ornithologist in our group for identification.
STRI school building, Gamboa: This is the road that the STRI schoolhouse is on, home-base for the majority of this field course. I arrived in Panama late at night so this is a photo of the next morning. It was my first experience and appreciation for the breathtaking Panamanian environment where I would find myself for the next several months.
Heliconius egg, Gamboa: A remarkable little butterfly reproductive package that would have gone completely unnoticed unless pointed out to me.
Lobster-claw (Heliconia rostrata), Gamboa: This fascinating plant is all around Panama. I awe at them every time I see one.
Gamboa, red-eyed grasshopper (Coscineuta coxalis): These guys seem to be active everywhere at all times. I initially observed their active mating during a night herpetology walk, and then I found this guy the next morning. I thought it was curious that they are, anecdotally, nocturnal and diurnal. I have since repeatedly found them many places.
Gamboa: I found this adorable flower on a morning walk and thought it was beautiful with the morning dew. Someone suggested it is called a bouquet de novia, but I have yet to be able to identify it further.
Turtle ants (Cephalotes atratus), Gamboa: This a common neotropical ant often found in urban areas. I love the diversity of morphs that differentiate the minors from the majors from the queen.
Gatun Lake, Barro Colorado Island (BCI), : The view from the balcony at the visitor’s center. We were working on data analysis for our short projects on BCI, and I couldn’t help but appreciate my surroundings.
Neotropical rainforest, BCI: This series of photos attempts to capture the diversity of the forest on the island.
Pseudobombax septenatum, BCI: This plant is very attractive to multiple species of pollinators, including the arriving stingless bee Tetragonisca angustula at the top right.
Schizolobium tree, San Lorenzo: Even as a non-plant biologist, I appreciated this beautiful pop of color in dominate greenery along the walk to the canopy crane.
San Lorenzo: They were practically posing for me.
Fort Sherman canopy crane, San Lorenzo: While we were waiting to take our turn in the crane (it could only accommodate batches of 5), we practiced our Heliconius butterfly netting skills. While sometimes rewarding, it could also be extraordinarily frustrating when you missed a real beauty.
Canopy crane, San Lorenzo: The view from the top was so breathtaking that it almost distracted me from the fact that scientist perform entire projects in the crane, such as monitoring and sampling insect herbivory in the canopy.
Male spotted antbird (Hylophylax naevioides), Gamboa Pipeline Road: This is a popular location in Panama for people to come birding. As such, we were shown the ropes by understory mist-netting experts Dr. Henry Pollack and Elise Nishikawa.
Collard aracaris (Pteroglossus torquatus), Gamboa Pipeline Road: We also spotted many non-understory birds during our excursion.
Grey-headed kite (Leptodon cayanensis), Gamboa Pipeline Road
Gamboa Pipeline Road: And because we are in the neotropical rainforest, we inevitably ran across other biologically minded travelers. They had a scope set up, and behold, bats.
Stingless bees (Tetragonisca angustula), Gamboa Pipeline Road: Stingless bees are commonly known to make their nests on the sides of buildings and other manmade structures. The bees form the wax tube as the only entrance into the colony. This particular nest is found in the structural support beam of a covered bench at the entrance to Pipeline Road.
Agua Salud Project, Panama Canal Watershed: “An integrated ecosystem services project [that] seeks to understand and quantify ecological, social, and economic services provided by tropical forests in the Panama Canal Watershed.” (http://www.ctfs.si.edu/aguasalud/) The bottom photo is a common companion species of balsa found on the plantations, Ochroma pyramidale.
Agua Salud Project, Panama Canal Watershed: teak forest.
Panama Canal Watershed, Represa Madden.
Panama Canal Watershed: Some super cool organisms.
Panama City, Causeway to Naos Island Laboratories.
Volcan Baru, view from Fortuna: This is the tallest mountain in Panama, and it is an active volcano.
Dusk in the “cloud forest”, Fortuna.
Moths, moths, and moths, Fortuna field station: An incredible display of moth diversity. This sheet is a result of a white light left on over one night. There was everything from Sphingidae hawk moths to Saturniid luna moths to Sesiidae wasp mimics. So cool.
The amazing people I shared this adventure with, Panama Canal Watershed.
Hasta la proxima vez.