“Good Job, Butterfliers”

March 21, 2018

It all started with a calm and soothing reflection on our time here thus far. We
gathered in a circle and talked about our challenges and our highlights since we’ve
been at Firestone. It is definitely a challenge for many of us here in the heat, just as
we battled with the snowy storms up in the Hudson.  However, the happiest and
best memories made us laugh in our time of reflection. Some said monkeys, the
familiar smells of Costa Rica (someone who had previously visited), the delicious
rice and beans, the deceptive night hawk, the bumpy rides with our wonderful
driver Cathy, and the fresh and natural scents that move through the air as we take
on our adventures.

We then ventured into the forest near the waterfall to check our leaves that we had
left overnight in Ziploc bags. This experiment was done to see how direct sunlight
and location on the tree affects the amount of water that leaves transpire
throughout the day. The leaves were left out for about 48 hours: ¼ of the leaves in
direct sunlight transpired more water than the remaining leaves in shaded areas.
Why only ¼? Our fellow classmate Liam supposed,  “It is unlikely for leaves to
transpire in this humid environment because the air is so saturated. Had we done
this experiment at Bard, then we might’ve found more transpired water in the
Ziplocs.”  Theo added, “ This might be because the leaves at Firestone naturally
produce a waxy coating to retain the water.” Also since we know that it is the dry
season here in Costa Rica, we suspect that this waxy coating must have impacted
our results as  the drier the atmosphere, the larger the driving force for water
movement out of the plant, increasing the rate of transpiration.

After collecting our leaves, we governed ourselves attending to three tasks
assigned by Cathy for almost three hours while she and our TA Sarah attended to
some other duties in the field.  It was the calmest day we’ve had, taking
temperature and humidity throughout different times of the day to figure out how
temperature and humidity changes in the forest/ shaded areas vs. the areas exposed
to direct sunlight, and examining the magnitude of change.  Switching gears we
split into groups to discuss ideas for our independent studies that we will conduct
on Friday.

Around 12:00pm we were all ready and on time for our lunch prepared by our
wonderful chef.  She prepared us some type of Costa Rican squash with corn and
rice, a healthy salad on the side and some freshly cut pineapples and watermelon
slices. Our group has probably gone through about six Lizano bottles (a Costa
Rican sauce)! After lunch we enjoyed freshly cut coconuts and relaxed until we went out to retrieved our butterflies from the traps. We found multiple different
species of butterflies in including Archaeoprepona demophon centralis, Caligo
atreus dionysos, Cissia Sp, Colobura dirce, and Hamadryas feronia farinulenta.
The colors and textures of their beautiful wings were truly an amazing sight.
Along with so many species, two of our adventurers conquered their fears: Dani her fear of bugs by holding and releasing some butterflies from our traps, and
Isa made it up and down the rocky road that leads to the top of the mountain
without tossing any of her meals.

To end such a beautiful and calm day on such a pretty and diverse land, we took a
night hike for about two hours. It was pretty slow but very enticing. We saw
Gladiator frogs, a white iguana, a bright red jumpy poisonous dart frog, a cat-eyed
snake, tree frogs, a tarantula, two sly raccoons, a tiny scorpion, a wild chicken(?),
multiple different spider species and a calm sloth to complete our day.
About ten butterfliy species AND A SLOTH? Our day could not have been better!

Signing off,
Dani and Theo


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