Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rain in the field!

The rains have begun in earnest here in the Los Santos area (so named for the "saint" names of the towns - e.g., San Marcos, Santa Maria, San Lorenzo, etc.)! We have been treated to some spectacular thunder & lightning storms on a few afternoons (current one included) this week. Luckily we're doing most of our fieldwork in the mornings - but occasionally we have been caught in the downpour!

I am working with a team of teenagers and two teachers from Fenway High School (Boston) who are volunteering with Earthwatch this week - they are doing a great job scrambling up and down the steep slopes on which much of the coffee here is planted - and getting the traps in the ground, soil samples collected, and bee observations & hand-pollination of flowers done. We've caught a nice assortment of bees & their relatives in our traps- currently I'm spending the afternoons sorting specimens we've caught in yellow pan traps from both coffee farms and nearby forest habitats. We've had to work around some of the rain in collecting our bee observation data (comparing visits by commercial honeybees to those by native bees & their relatives), but we're trucking along - overall we're working with twelve farms that feature a combination of traits: some are near forest fragments, some are more isolated from forests, some have managed honeybees nearby, whereas others have no commercial honeybees nearby. When all is said and done, we'll have data that will allow us to estimate the biodiversity and economic value of the forest fragments that are scattered across the Tarrazu region.

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