Sunday, May 15, 2011

Earthwatch Team Two 2011 wraps up

We wrapped up another week of fieldwork in TarrazĂș with the second Earthwatch team of the season. With the usual flurry of activities, the small (only four!) team was invaluable in helping set up traps, collecting insects from the field, and sorting specimens in the lab. Last week we took some time to move our entire operation to a new (but nearby) site - we're now fully installed in a new laboratory facility - an old house that we're leasing from the coffee cooperative. All are very happy to be away from the car emissions testing facility that had been located just outside the doors/windows of our old lab facilities!

This morning we found ourselves in the middle of the San Isidro Blessing of the Animals (& crops) in Santa Maria - droves of people came down from the surrounding hills with their dogs, cows, horses, ducks, etc. in tow for the festivities - a great way to finish off the week!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fieldwork in TarrazĂș

I'm spending a few weeks in the central highlands of Costa Rica, conducting research in an ongoing project I'm conducting with Earthwatch Institute and a local coffee farmers cooperative (CoopeTarrazu). The focus this year is on pollinators, and especially on the importance of nearby forest fragments on coffee yields and the abundance and diversity of bees visiting coffee. Fieldwork activities include sampling bee/wasp diversity and abundance in and around coffee fields, and manipulating pollinator access to flowers in order to compare the effects of wind vs. insect pollination on yields. This week, I've got a group of volunteers from the global firm Ernst & Yield helping out in the field- we're spending the mornings putting up insect traps in coffee fields and nearby forests, and the afternoons in the lab sorting the insects captured from the previous days' traps. The volunteers (ten of them) are also working with the local coffee cooperative in an effort to help them develop their social corporate responsibility protocols. The group will be here a total of eight days; another group of volunteers arrives this weekend, and we'll continue collecting data on more farms throughout next week.