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Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 17 to 19 (End)

GamboaClassroom

I am reporting on the final three days for the Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 trip. On Wednesday (Day 17), about half of the group had an opportunity to visit an Embera Village. This included an exciting canoe river trip to the village and learning about body paint, dance, and other cultural practices. About 5% of the Panamanian people are indigenous and live on “comarcas” with special political status. Another group went to the Altos de Campana National Park to explore its beautiful cloud forest habitats, serenity, and significantly cooler climate.

By 8 pm everybody had returned to the Gamboa Schoolhouse, and it was time for interim project presentations. Each project leader had 5-10 minutes to present their chosen research question and current results and insights. Further analysis of the data is needed for the final reports. Here is an abbreviated list of topics:

  • How does resource quantity versus quality of food source affect the foraging recruitment behavior in Paraponera clavata bullet ants?
  • Why do leaf-cutter ants preferentially feed on some plants and not others?
  • Do orchid bees display species-specific differences in discovering scents under varying environmental conditions?
  • Does the nightly perching location of basilisk lizards vary according to size or age?
  • Do Azteca ants detect invading insects on Cecropia plants in fixed or invader-dependent patterns?
  • Do larger phytotelmata of epiphytic plants sustain larger and more diverse species than smaller ones?
  • Is stingless bee defensive behavior tailored towards the relative threat level of different aggressors?
  • Are leaves with hairy versus waxy surface texture differentially affected by herbivory versus rot?
  • How does variable exposure to sunlight affect thoracic flight temperatures in miniaturized stingless bees?
  • How do leaf-cutter ants adjust to varying obstacles along their transport paths?
  • How do variable light conditions affect the germination of seeds stored in soil?
  • Does afternoon foraging in stingless bees depend on the degree of canopy coverage?
  • Does the eye morphology of lepidopteran caterpillar correlate with their adult activity patterns?
  • What are host properties are correlated with hemiepiphyte success?
  • Do paper wasps display aggressor-specific responses?
  • Are aposematically colored caterpillar more host specific than cryptic species?
  • Are red-eyed tree frog egg clutching more successful in dense vegetation?

On Thursday morning (Day 18) we visited the impressive Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. The conditions (and costs) under which this monumental construction was achieved more than 100 years ago remain incredible today as the next phase of expansion is nearing completion. Our timing was fortunate; we witnessed two ships getting lifted up coming from the Pacific side of the Canal. The remainder of the day was reserved for more time in Casco Viejo. Towards the evening we had to prepare for Friday’s return travels; however a significant portion of the group managed to get in one last night excursion to Río Mendoza on Pipeline Road.

Friday (Day 19) was our final day, and I am happy to report that other than minor flight delays there were no incidents returning to the United States. Some gear was left at Gamboa, presumably for the 2015 installment of Tropical Field Biology. Click here for a complete review.

GamboaGear2015

Sampling of materials for Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2015.

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