Another week in (biology) paradise
My third and final week at Estación Biológica La Selva has been quite the whirlwind. From sun up to sun down, it has all been research, research, research (my only saving grace being the heaping amounts of eggs and gallo pinto served at breakfast, yum!).
After two weeks of exploring the rainforest and attending lectures on tropical disease and statistical analysis, it was time to put what we learned to the test. Three faculty-led projects were conducted on the following topics: Chagas disease, parasitism in bats, and the prevalence of dengue mosquito vectors in surrounding habitats. I won’t bore you with the scientific details…but I will say that each project challenged me to learn new skills and build on important research methodology. In other words, this week really reminded me why I am studying abroad in Costa Rica and the impacts such an opportunity will have on my biology studies when I return to HC.
Lions and tigers and bats, oh my!
My favorite experience during this intensive research week was definitely my night of mist-netting (method utilized to catch bats). Sounds kind of scary, I know. I actually consider myself to have a pretty severe fear of bats, but I left the forest that night with a huge smile on my face and a desire to learn more about these intriguing mammals. They are actually really cute and less harmful than you would expect (this, of course, does not include the blood-feeding “vampire bat” which is pictured below on the far left!!).
For each of the seven bats we caught, we performed a series of identification steps and collected any visible ecto-parasites. All in all, it was pretty surreal–never in my life did I think I would come face to face with a bat (and not die) in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest.
Caio caio, La Selva!
With the research portion of our projects complete and only an extensive group report to follow (yay!), it is time for me to emerge from the rainforest and rejoin the rest of civilization. For the next two weeks I will be living with a host family in San Jose and taking a Costa Rican language/culture course. I am very eager to speak in Spanish 24/7 and experience a bit of city life.
And while it is bitter sweet saying goodbye to Cabina Tortuga and all of my animal friends at La Selva, I’ll be returning to this exact location at the end of April to complete my final independent research project…so no worries there!!
Talk to you all in San Jose!
This week I learned…
1.) that when you watch the Super Bowl NOT in the U.S., you miss out on the commercials. Fortunately, we did not miss out on the most important thing: homemade guacamole:)
2.) that bug spray is NOT optional at any time of day.
Haylie Butler '17