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Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 8 to 10

Turtle

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.

On the night of June 15, ASU botanist and biodiversity informatician Ed Gilbert joined the course. Ed stayed throughout Monday (June 16) to participate in field trips, plant observations, and offer an entertaining and interactive lecture and demonstration on tropical vascular plant identification using vegetative characters.

Day 10 – our trip midpoint – was reserved for recreation and cultural/natural exploration. We organized a group trip going up north on the Corredor Norte, through the busy town of Sabanitas where refreshments for the day were purchased, and then to the Atlantic coast and the scenic town of Portobelo, known (among other attractions) for its Spanish colonial defense fortifications. In Portobelo we boarded two small motorized boats and headed out on a 30-45 minute ride to the remote Playa Blanca beach. A short exploration of the mangrove and palm habitat culminated in a prolonged and relaxed time swimming in the Caribbean water. We barely got back for dinner time, and some headed back out to Pipeline Road and other local sites to follow up on the individual projects. One of the “regulars” at the Juan Grande Creek on Pipeline Road is the pond slider turtle, Trachemys scripta, shown in the featured image.

Our two-day trip to Barro Colorado Island is just around the corner, and is scheduled for June 20-21.

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