Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Gamboa’

Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 in Review

Here is a summary listing of all taxonbytes blog posts related to the Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 trip. The collected Flickr images are here. Plans are underway for another installment in 2015.

Also read New study abroad program draws ASU undergrads to Panama, written by Sandy Leander for the ASU News.

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 8 to 10

Another three-day summary update from the field in Gamboa, Panama – days 8 to 10. Days 8 and 9 (June 15-16) were dedicated primarily to advancing our research projects. Reformulating hypotheses, testing methods, collecting observations and data, conducting interim analyses, and deriving new ideas to test based on the previous work.

Read more

Rhynchophorus palmarum – the South American palm weevil

Weevil natural history news from Gamboa, Panama. We are continuing to look for weevils that can be observed feeding and reproducing in the field. One such opportunity is starting to develop because we discovered a fallen palm tree of the species Oenocarpus mapora which is very common on the Cerro Pelado at Gamboa. On the fallen log we first spotted two specimens of Metamasius hemipterus, and today a female of the South American palm weevil Rhynchophorus palmarum. The female was feeding, possibly also hiding, near the central core of the broken off stem. A short video of this female is available here. We will monitor the log for more dryophthorid weevils and possible mating activities.

Post in development..

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Day 7

It is Day 7, the end of the first week. The project routine has settled in. It is an overcast, rainy Saturday in Gamboa. We are mostly out in the field – near the Schoolhouse, at the Frog Pond, in and around the Wood Lock, or as far out as Río Limbo on Pipeline Road – and making observations, tests, and adjustments to individual project ideas.

Read more

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 4 to 6

The combination of a busy trip schedule and variable internet access is stretching out the frequency of blogging and posting photographs. Hence I am providing only an abbreviated three-day summary at this point.

Read more

Systenotelus stockwelli in focus

This morning I had an opportunity to revisit an interaction that was part of my graduate thesis research; i.e. the reproductive association of Carludovica “Panama hat palms” and acalyptine weevils in the genus Systenotelus.

Carludovica plants are members of the Cyclanthaceae and are common along roads and trails in and around Gamboa, Panama. The development of the flowering process is short (essentially lasting 24 hours) and highly predictable – one can observe an inflorescence’s spathes opening and detaching during the night prior to the main flowering event. Having spotted one such plant yesterday night at the “Frog Pond”, I arrived at the fully opened and extended inflorescence of C. palmata at 5:30 am on the following morning.

Sometimes, especially in open habitats where Carloduvica plants receive high sun exposure, leaf-cutter ants and stingless bees will find the inflorescences early and cut off the staminodes, thereby reducing the attractiveness of the inflorescence and intensity of the weevil-attracting scents. This was not the case with this inflorescence, however. Likely more than 300-500 weevils pertaining to four acalyptine species arrived during this morning. I managed to record about 2.5 hours of close-up weevil feeding and reproductive behavior under very good conditions. A short 1-minute video (shot with a point-and-shoot camera) is posted here.

Of primary interests to me was filming the behavior of Systenotelus stockwelli – possibly for the first time. Presently three species are recognized in the genus Systenotelus, of which S. stockwelli is the smallest and also that which most closely resembles weevils in the related genus Perelleschus in terms of general shape. However, unlike Perelleschus, Systenotelus weevils a not pollinators of Carludovica, and instead of primarily feeding on the fleshy red pulp, the larvae are seed predators. Hence the evolution of Perelleschus and Systenotelus marks a transition from weevils being largely beneficial to being detrimental to the plant’s reproductive success.

Only about 15-20 individuals of S. stockwelli arrived at the inflorescence, at least 30 minutes after other species of Azotoctla, Ganglionus, and Perelleschus had arrived. Both females and males of S. stockwelli are quite active in the first 1-2 hours following arrival. I was able to observe and film multiple instances of feeding, probing and drilling oviposition sites, mating attempts, copulatory courtship, mate guarding, male-to-male conflicts, male-to-female conflicts, and oviposition.

In the next few days we hope to find more inflorescences of C. palmata around Gamboa, and also dissect fruits which contain the weevil larvae (mostly of Perelleschus, according to initial samples). We are also looking for other weevils that can be observed feeding and reproducing at sites that can be carefully observed and recorded on video.

Evening update. I revisited the inflorescence after 8 pm today. The staminodes were on the ground and in a state of rotting. Only Ganglionus, Perelleschus, and very small species pertaining to an undescribed genus (though often identified as Phyllotrox – which is not typically on cyclanths) were present, in lower numbers, and not on the surface layer.

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Day 3

Brief updates from a busy third field day in Gamboa. The daily routine is settling in. Accommodations are spacious and comfortable, and the Schoolhouse meals are excellent. It has been very humid and overcast since we arrived, with significant afternoon rains and occasional rains at night. The new environment takes some getting used to but is becoming more familiar each day.

Read more

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Day 2

Day 2 – early morning update. Select pictures will be posted in the “Panama 2014” album on Flickr, linked here.

This morning we proceeded farther down the Pipeline Road, to the 5.8 km stop – Río Limbo. Dale located a young fer-de-lance snake right along the riverbed. Toucans and iguanas were also sighted. More photos of plants, animals, and the expedition group are coming on-line. The spectacular caterpillar in the featured image is likely a species in the saturniid moth genus Automeris Fabricius (resembling A. zugana, but the genus is diverse). The branched cuticular projections are not pleasant to the human skin.

The afternoon lecture gave us an overview of the climate in Panama in a global context. Around 3 pm it started raining cats and mice – good time for some down time in the Schoolhouse.