Tag Archives: field biology

(Nakian) May 22: Ants x Statistics x The Unexpected

Another big day for ants. We retrieved the pitfall traps we have deployed yesterday and the amount of ant species diversity was stunning. I identified species I almost lost hope of finding in this trip. I found Anochetus with long mandibles on narrow head, Wasmannia small but nasty, Neoponera with fat petiole, Pheidole big head and club like antennae, Carebara with giant head, and Adelomyrmex. Not having seen these species in day light, these findings really support my hypothesis that many of these ants are nocturnal, or at least not around in afternoon. However, I still could not identify half of species today, because many of them looked so similar, or were not in my taxa ID sheet. It could be that many of them were same species but in different castes, but I just could not distinguish them and considered them as same species. Also I have to consider that I tend to focus on exotic looking species when making my taxa ID sheet. Tonight’s night hike might give me some more opportunities to find more species. However many of these species are really small that I don’t know if I would be able to identify them so readily during the hike.
Today we had a long discussion about the result of our pitfall trap experiment. Different data interpretations flipped the results that made me think of how to approach data when making conclusion relevant and accurate for the question we are asking. I think I must train myself more in the ability to design statistically sound experiment and analysis methods. In a discipline with large data analysis such ability seems crucial.

Having spent a week in the field, it comes to me that unexpectedness makes field biology awesome. In a lab we can simulate the natural environment but the results are restricted from the limited perimeter. If I conduct an experiment here, I don’t know what will be in my trap. It could be nothing or could be bombardments of ant species I hoped to see. This unexpectedness turns field biology so attractive.

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T minus 36 hours

I don’t think that I’ve fully processed the fact that I’ll be in a completely different country and culture in less than 48 hours. Going into this course, I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to explore a region that I have never experienced before. The closest I’ve been to the tropics is Hawaii, which is different from continental tropics because it is so isolated and the land mass cannot support the same level of biodiversity.

I am expecting Belize to have an amazing amount of biodiversity, which makes preparing the taxon identification cards very difficult. All I can hope for is that we’ll spot most of the trees and green algae that I included on the cards! I can’t wait to see what all of my classmates have been learning about for their taxa. I feel like I’ve learned so much from A Natural History of Belize but I’m sure that I’ll learn much more during our stay at Las Cuevas Research Station. I also was able to take a course on coral reefs this spring with Adrienne Correa. I am looking forward to using what I learned during our stay at Glover’s Reef.

One of the things that I am most excited for is staying at the Belize Zoo. It will be interesting staying in the midst of so many animals – and knowing that they’re there! I wonder if I’ll feel more or less surrounded by animals in the zoo than at Las Cuevas…

I have to admit, I am a little nervous about insects and spiders that we aren’t looking for. I should be protected from biting creatures, what with my new field pants, rubber boots, long shirts, and bug spray. I’m still expecting to get bites, but not serious ones.

I can’t wait to be immersed in the forests and reefs of Belize!