Saturday, May 6, 2017

All the things you can see

Photo Credit : J. Mauricio Garcia-C.

One of my favorite parts of fieldwork is feeling as though I am part of nature.  At La Selva, walking transects in search of anole lizards and standing still to observe harvestmen, I noticed many animals, some of which even approached me, I would not have seen otherwise.  I was able to explore the animal diversity of La Selva even though I was only studying a few species.
            While working on my independent project, which involved observing the responses of harvestmen aggregates to a perceived predation threat (tapping one of their legs with a stick), I had to stand still next to trees for 15-minute periods.  During this time, many insects and spiders seemed to pop out of their camouflage.  I found striped mantises, which before I had only thought were only green, preparing to attack harvestmen for food.  There were many moths behaving similarly to the harvestmen by staying still on tree trunks during the day.  Spiders that ambushed hunt would suddenly jump up to catch a passing fly. 
            While searching for anoles in the leaf litter for one of the faculty-led projects, we found a variety of poison dart frogs and other lizards.  Most of them scurried away, but we did get to pick up a few.  Chasing after anoles it almost felt as though I were a reptile or amphibian in leaf litter, trying to decide the best place to go to hide from the nearby threat.
            Many vertebrate animals approached me not realizing I was there.  I saw many peccary babies close up running to keep up with their mothers.  Unfortunately, the peccary groups often were not pleased when they realized I was there and would grunt, scrape their hooves on the ground, and pee to mark their territory.  A toucan also flew up around 20 m from me.  Most exciting, I found spider and howler monkeys, which were in adjacent trees.  This is the second time I have seen these two species so close together, the first being in Las Altures.  Once they found me, they started to throw branches and leaves down from their trees.
            I hope that my future as a tropical field ecologist will provide me with more experiences encountering the amazing animal diversity of forests.  In Costa Rica, I have found that you cannot fully appreciate what is there just by hiking through the forest.  Stopping and letting the animals come to you allows you to experience the forest.
Ariek Barakat Norford 
Franklin and Marshall College

1 comment:

  1. Costa Rica is a place rich in animal habitat. You would find many types of wild animals here and can come face to face with them. You must have had a wonderful adventurous experience.