July 28th, 2017 (Wednesday)–Day 23
It’s now day 23 and things have been flying. We spent this past week at the University of Georgia Campus here in San Luis, and taking la trocha up the mountain most days to get to the institute.
On Monday, we had our last work day with the Change the World kids, and that brought our number up to over 2000 trees planted. After they left however, there was a ton of measuring to do in both our newly planted plots, and ones that had been planted in years past. Clinometer men, Tevin and Jason, had quite the workout this week, along with all the others measuring height, DBH (diameter at breast height), leaf damage, and the presence of epiphytes, bryophytes, and lichen.
On the 22nd, we got a special treat, when José Joaquín Montero Ramírez, one of the few Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) specialists in Costa Rica gave us a lecture. José studies the natural history, DNA barcoding, and taxonomy of Papilionoidea superfamily (which contains all butterflies). His passion towards all life stages of butterflies was so contagious that even those of us who normally disregard butterflies learned tons of cool facts about these organisms (for example, did you know that in the pupa, the caterpillar is reduced to a protein soup which is then re-engineered into a butterfly?).
We also heard from Laurie Kutner from the University of Vermont, who is currently managing the library collection at the Monteverde Institute. Her research involves investigating the difficulty in accessing scholarly research in Latin America and the problems this presents to local scientists.
Finally, we sat down with Katy VanDusen, the vice president of the Monteverde Community Fund. For the past 35 years, Katy has been working on strengthening the rural community and
our discussion focused on her recent commitment to make Monteverde more resilient to climate change.
While we were definitely sad to see the Change the World Kids (CWK) go, we did get to meet a group from Oregon State led by soil scientist Ron Reuter. We all went out to the same location we took the CWK to continue our work comparing tree growth on slopes versus flat land. Once we return from the lowlands, we will get to work with them more on an experiment comparing soil quality across topography to try and maximize survival rates for our trees.
Sunday afternoon, however, was very hectic as we made our transition from UGA to the Pacific-side lowlands, picking up 550 trees along the way. Now that we have left the conservation-friendly culture in Monteverde, we have noticed that motivations behind reforestation have changed, providing an interesting juxtaposition between the two regions. In fact, part of our program here involves working with Katie Powlen, a master student who is investigating these distinct motivations. Regardless, we are excited to dig deeper into these differences and work within this new community.