The last few days of the trip have passed by in a blur – most of us will be leaving the rancho for the last time in a couple hours. Our second three days of field work consisted of less sampling and field work and more data analysis, paper writing, and sunburn recovery. Below, all three groups are pictured hard at work: Luz, Suelas, and Plantas.
At first it seemed like it might be a close call, but we all came up with some pretty cool results in time to present them in front of the group. It was great to see what the other teams had been up to over our research days and how much we had all learned about our topics. Although the writing went on until late last night (and is still continuing in some places…) I think we have all come up with some strong ideas and have learned a lot about how field ecology works.
After we were unable to spend one more moment thinking about canopy cover, soil respiration or leaf water content, we spent the last few days on a field trip to Las Pumas wildlife reserve. The reserve takes in animals that have been rescued from the exotic pet trade or injured by hunters and tries to rehabilitate them and eventually release them to the wild. The animals that can’t be released because of injuries or too much interaction with humans are kept at the reserve and can be viewed by guests. Five out of the six wild cats that live in Costa Rica were represented at the park, as well as monkeys, toucans and parrots. Their stories were all sad, but it was interesting to learn about the extent of the pet trade industry and become more aware of the issue.
After Las Pumas, we spent the rest of the morning eating. First we stopped to try “sleeping milk,” a sweet, spiced milk smoothie recommended by our microbuseta driver. After slurping those down, we ate lunch at a restaurant with a beautiful view of a river flowing behind us. I think we were all reluctant to go back to the rancho – not only because we knew we would be working on finishing our papers as soon as we returned, but also because for most of us it was the last time we would be heading back to this place. Daniel and his family have been so accommodating for all of us, and we are all incredibly grateful for his guidance and hospitality. It’s been a great journey getting to know a group of amazing students, and we have all learned a lot about science and life in this beautiful country!
Emma Rohleder, University of Minnesota