2-26-19: Dividing tasks, contributing to the project

Today we divided into two groups:  one that stayed at La Selva and did the "lab" work (processing the plants, doing zoo, taking photographs of the caterpillars) and then the other group went with Trevor, the graduate student, to a previously unexplored section of La Selva to try to find clusters of Piper.  But first, we had caterpillar lecture from Dr. Dyer
 
We learned several anatomical features of caterpillars:
 
1.  they have a head, thorax, and abdomen, just like their future insect selves
 
2.  they have true legs (jointed appendages) and prolegs (fake legs, they are like suckers)  This distinguishes them from, say maggots or nematodes, which have no legs
 
3.  they have a few lenses, which allows them to see (but not well)
 
4  they have hair, which allows them to sense (touch, heat, cold, etc)
 
5. instead of a blood system, they have a hemolymph system, which circulates a fluid like substance (the lymph) that carries nutrients, oxygen, etc.
 
Probably the most interesting thing I learned today was that there are species of caterpillars that, at will, move their lymph towards their head, and shape it INTO A SNAKE SHAPE as a defense mechanism:  check it out!
Then after the morning lecture, we divided out.  The group that stayed at La Selva did several things:
 
1.  cut a sample of leaf from each plant for genomic analysis
 
2. catalogued a leaf from each plant by taking a picture of every leaf, front and back.  The images taken will help with the herbivorie (figuring out what is eating the leaf).  Turns out Heather (another graduate student) is working with a company to develop a software to be able to recognize each type of "bite" taken out of the leaf, and all the leaves we are taking pictures of are used to train the software.  This took a very long time, we are still not done (and more leaves keep coming in)...
 
3.  zoo - we cleaned out all the current caterpillars' homes (nobody wants to live in frass!)
 
4.  we took pictures of several caterpillars to catalogue - like, the cool, sexy pictures you see on the cover of books
Then...the other half of the group went with Trevor to the unexplored part of La Selva.  There was a lottery pick the night before of who got to go, because after walking 2 1/2 miles (carrying equipment, no less), the group would then have to cross a river, and the only way to cross the river was using a basket that you pull yourself across with rope.  Almost EVERYONE wanted to go (except Dr. Moore), so the random number generator was used, and the lucky ones were Jacob, Foster, and Grayson.  Along with Mr Rudnick and Trevor, off they went.  They went all the way out there, and only were able to collect from 1 Piper cluster, but that's the way it goes in research.  But an adventure was had...
And check out the video Mr. Rudnick took of Foster and Jacob crossing