Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Monday June 6, 2016

This morning, we woke up and ate a small breakfast of fruit, rice, and other foods. After breakfast, half of the students went on a long hike, while the other half went on a trailer to the destination. On the hike, we walked through lots of sticky mud and over fallen trees.

The hike ended at a small waterfall where we had a snack and switched with the other group. We had a bumpy ride in the back of a trailer behind a tractor on the way back to where we are staying.

Once everyone arrived, we cleaned our boots, ate lunch, and got ready to go to the beach.

The beach was thirty minutes away, and it was a great way to relax at the end of our trip.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Costa Rica Day 9

This is CJ Buckles and Mickie Frederick here.
On our drive here to the new research center called Horizontes, we had to drive on a tiny gravel road in our large bus. We were thankful when we would get to an actual solid paved road. We also saw a huge tree in the dry forest, it was something you wouldn't expect to see on a drive to the beach.
When we finally got here we saw our new dorm and were shocked. They're very tiny and we have to be cautious of scorpions. All of us have to share a bathroom with only 4 showers and 4 toilets. Bugs are a huge problem here, unlike Finca La Anita.
Last night from 8 PM-12 Midnight we all camped on the beach hoping to see the nesting sea turtles. We took rounds hiking up the beach every hour. Although we didn't find any turtles, it was still a really cool experience to able to camp on the beach and actually be able to see shooting stars that were above us.
This morning before our very last hike in Costa Rica our guide told us that just a few days before we got there, someone was cutting bushes and found an 8 foot Boa Constrictor. This place in particular has a lot more wildlife. It's very interesting and fun to observe. When we got back, we were washing the mud off our boots and saw Capuchin Monkeys in the trees. Also, after lunch, we saw a huge Iguana. He was eating mangoes and walking around. He didn't seem to be bothered by us and pretty much ignored our existence.
We're having a great time and we can't wait to come home to good plumbing, American food, hot showers, and clean sheets.

-Mickie Frederick & CJ Buckles :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Costa Rica Day 8

This is Travis True and Ryan Dome. So today we went zip lining as a group it was EPIC! At first we had to hike about 15 minutes up hill but from there we never walked again.
The guides were awesome they would  sometimes mess with us and jerk the wire up and down so it bounces us. The first time they did it Julie screamed like she had seen a ghost. We also tried to do tricks on the zip lines - Peter even went upside down on one. The last zip line was almost 400 yards long.  We flew down that one but the view some some spots was incredible.  On the last line, a howler monkey was right above us, wanting to communicate!  Some of us were fortunate to see toucans in the trees next to us.
The horseback riding was a nice change of pace from the zip-lining we had done earlier in the day. It took a while for everyone to get their horse, but once everyone was situated we were on our way up some steep hills to see a spectacular view of the surrounding area. After a long day of activities most were nervous about giving their presentations on the research they had been doing, but they all turned out great and everyone is happy that they are over because the researching took a lot of work.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Costa Rica Trip Day 7, Posted by Sara Warren and Lilly Meekin

Hi everybody! Today, we had to get up half an hour earlier for breakfast, which you wouldn't think would make much of a difference, but half of the people didn't show up. Then we worked on our group projects until 11:00, and then we split up into Lexington Catholic and Trinity. The Trinity boys stayed at Finca La Anita for lunch at 11:30 and LC split into 4 cars to go to a place called Sensoria. We drove up a very treacherous road and stopped for sandwiches, chips, and these delicious, sweet, croissant, caramelish things.  We saw a dinosaur park on the side of the road, and then we arrived at Sensoria. We went through a trail composed entirely of stairs to get to an amazing waterfall, a freezing river, and a hot spring. While we were freezing our butts off in the river someone thought they saw a snake coming over the waterfall, which resulted in lots of screaming and scrambling trying to get back to shore. It turned out to be a log, but needless to say, no one got back in.  Then it started pouring rain, and by the time we got to the hot spring we were so wet that some of us just kept our socks on while we swam.  There was a chicken fight with Mr. Dorsett and Peter vs. Jacob and Travis... I think you can guess who won.  When we finally got back to the main house we got cookies, coffee, and juice (Fun Fact: the coffee cups match the stuff we have at home -Sara) while we watched a wildlife movie.  We came back and Oliva Bassetti, Sarah S.P., and Micky rode in the back of one truck, while Peter, Michaela, Cameron, and Travis rode in the bed of the other truck (Cameron got a second chance after he stood up in the back going up a hill which almost gave Mrs. Formisano a heart attack).  When we finally got back we were soaked to the bone and exhausted, but we just changed and ate dinner before going back to work on our projects more. Tomorrow we get to go horseback riding and zip lining! This has been amazing! Love you guys!
         - Sara Warren and Lilly Meekin

Nuptial Flight

Yesterday morning, students had the rare opportunity to witness the tail end of a nuptial flight of the Atta Cephalotes species of the leaf cutter ant.  Professor Pinto led an impromptu lecture to explain what happened.  Up to 20,000 ants flew out from each colony to participate in this mating ritual.  The nuptial flight is synchronized with the other colonies in the area so that queens will have the chance to mate with males from other colonies.  Queens are able to distinguish between males from her colony and ones from other colonies.  The queen chooses males from other colonies so that her offspring will benefit from genetic variation.  The sole function in life of the male participants in the nuptial flight is to mate with a queen.  The photo below shows dying males.  Most of the queens die after this ritual as well.  The successful queens survive by finding a piece of earth to dig into where she will lay her eggs and start her fungus garden.  The photo at the bottom is a hole dug by a successful queen.  She is going to have a rough go of it in this location since it is at the edge of a gravel parking lot.  The other queens dying in the parking lot were collected by our students to be used in their research.   

Males dying after the nuptial flight.

Hole started by a young queen.
   Young queens used for research.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Juan is one of the graduate school students working with us. He is well known for finding a frog from a species that was believed to be extinct. He is the go to guy if you find a toad, frog, or other hopping creature around the grounds. When he sees a frog, he leaps like an amphibian to catch it.

Costa Rica Day 6 (June 2, 2016)

Cameron and Jacob Smith authored this blog. Today, we worked all day in the field on our research projects.

Lily, Sarah, Joey, Sam, and Harrison researched the difference between the cultivable bacteria on the frogs and lizards by catching frogs and lizards and sampling them.

Peter, Olivia Bassetti, Michaela, and Shelby worked with ants and leaves trying to determine if there is a natural repellent for ants by collecting ants and experimenting on them.

 Ryan, Jacob Smith, Derek, and Jake Cedric researched different ant pheromones: alarm, colony, and trail; they experimented by using obstacles, ants from rival colonies, and the pheromones from other colonies.

Sara, Chase, Matt, and Patrick "Failed at digging up ant colonies, but don't worry they eventually got it... kind of,  (JK :))". Sara successfully prevented a forest fire.

Cameron, Eric, Jordan, and Scott started off by going off into the forest and collecting ants. Then we took the ants back to the laboratory and crushed ants based on their working class and put them on petri dishes.

Julie, Emma, Travis, and Anthony tested for BD (batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in frogs by cutting the frogs' toes off and putting them under a microscope (the toes will grow back).

Olivia Simpson, Jacob Steel, and Jacob Romines tested fungi's affect on ants by encircling them in escovopsis fungi and seeing if the ants could pass the circle.

Conner, Mickie, CJ, and Edward tested the aggression of frogs in a lab by watching them jump around for hours, as Conner says.

Trinity and Lexington Catholic have really bonded over the past days as you can see by all four lunch tables having members of both school. It's been a great opportunity to meet new people in our state.