Support parataxonomists!

I found this article about parataxonomists in Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea in Science today: Uncertain Future for Tropical Ecology

These people are locals but usually way better taxonomists than most of the foreign scientists who go there (e.g. me ;-)). They do amazing work, and could for example help Angie identify trees this field season. I also love the idea because it engages local communities and helps build relationships between conservation areas and the people who essentially live in or around them. Unfortunately, many of these programs are facing budget problems right now. So if you have a rich grandmother or cousin: get them to support parataxonomists!

This is a picture of Calixto Moraga, one of the parataxonomists working for Dan Janzen at Pitilla, doing a guided tour for US undergrads during our last field trip:

Armadeira Wars

The armadeira: an arachnaphobe’s nightmare. Armadeiras are a type of spiders that live in Cardoso. They are huge and hairy, they can jump, they are deadly, and they are everywhere, apparently. When the armadeira is going to attack you, it holds its front legs up above its head, revealing the white spots under its joints that can be used to identify it. Andrew and Paula have both found armadeiras in their experiments, and today, we encountered 2! One was in the outdoor bathroom, and the other in the garbage bags. Luckily, our crazy helper, Aline, caught both of them (because she is crazy) and took them away before I started crying, tears, on the ground. When I was washing laundry later on, I thought I saw another one in the sink and freaked out again. Luckily, it was just a crab.