Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hiking Through the Rainforest (Trail CCC to CCL)

Today Thomas and I (Lindsay) got booted from the climbing teams to work on the light response curves using the LiCor and the epiphytes growing in our shade house. Each plant takes about 35 minutes to process so we decided to write a blog post about the hike the four of us took the other day. We were also joined by Sarah, who has been climbing and working with us to write about our project.

Left: Sad, abandoned research assistants. 

Right: LiCor machine at work measuring a Guzmania monostachia's light response curve. 

Below: Shade house with Thomas looking busy.  

After finishing our daily activities early, we took a two hour hike into the rainforest to look for fallen epiphytes to collect. A couple of people at the station had told us about a Silky Anteater that was sleeping in a tree about four meters up right in the beginning of our hike. After 20 minutes of searching in the trees, we finally gave up and began our hike.
The beginning of this trail features a swamp and after a hard rain, one can hear the frogs singing at night. As you can see below, this area is not covered by the canopy and allows you to see how massive some of the trees are.

Along the way, we found the fruits of the Tetragastris altissima on the path. When the fruit is squeezed it releases a liquid substance that smells of kerosene....and burns like it too...

Can you tell Thomas was a little caught off guard with Prov's pop quiz in the middle of the rainforest?

We found some colorful and diverse fun guys (haha) along the trail.
Shelf fungi are pictured above. We know this fungi started growing after the host tree has fallen because they always grow parallel to the ground.

The trail took on many forms throughout our hike. In the beginning, the path was nicely paved. As we walked further into the rainforest, the trail became cement stepping stones or tree trunk stepping stones. At some points there were small bridges to cross over rivers or streams. And then just mud and slippery leaf litter. The roots of some of the trees along the path made it difficult to walk through.

 What every tree climber hates to see...


On the second half of our hike, we passed a beautiful river crossing

Snake boot star above the river crossing featuring Thomas, Providence, Lindsay, Shannon and Sarah's feet.

Necessary bridge selfie of the five of us on our hike.

Since we weren't very quiet on our hike, we did not see any large, cool mammals. But we did see, a three toed Lindsay (Yes, this is a textbook example of convergent evolution with the three toed sloth).

 Three-Toed Lindsay in her natural habitat.

Here's some actual wildlife we saw....

A blue jean poison dart frog protecting it's tadpoles in the tank of an epiphyte that had fallen from the tree.

On our way back to the station and with a little help from Cat, Carrie and some other researchers at La Selva, we finally got to see the Silky Anteater.

Tonight, Thomas and I are going on a night hike with Brian, the herpetologist who found the snake from our earlier blog post, and Shannon and Providence will be joining him on Saturday night. We are hoping to see glass frogs, which have transparent chest that allows you to see its heart beating!

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