The Kalu Yala Blog

The Stint Six Mission to Barro Colorado and Beyond

April 16, 2013

by Daniel Kwon
Posted In: Adventures in the Tropics

Hi Reader,

Welcome to my final journal chronicling my work at Kalu Yala during my sixth stint here (from Apr 2, 2013 until Apr 8, 2013).

The highlight of this stint has been the things I learned at the Smithsonian’s Barro Colorado Island (BCI).

First BCI Road Sign
This picture depicts the entry sign into the STRI (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).

During my visit to this institute, my biology team met an entomology research specialist named Ernesto, who guided us through the area.

Ernesto Discusses the Tree Termites
This picture depicts our STRI guide, Ernesto.

During our walk through the BCI region, we had opportunity to establish contacts with various researchers at their 64-person capacity facility. Through Ernesto, it will be possible to email and request research collaboration with their researchers to help further Kalu Yala’s understanding in ecological sciences, to either improve our ability to do species identification in Tres Brazos or to build a genuinely sustainable water system.

Prior to the start of our guided walking tour through the wilderness of the BCI, the guides presented to our team a professional powerpoint presentation of many significant facts regarding this place. Examples of the information presented included the history of BCI’s starting date in 1923 after the Panama Canal was completed in 1914. The name of the founder was James Zeter, who eventually led his field station to become the first most famous ecological research base. Nineteen other prominent labs throughout the world have been designed as replicas inspired by the original model of this BCI STRI.

BCNM Powerpoint
This picture depicts the BCI STRI’s lecture hall.

Among the wildlife shown in the presentation that we actually did see later included the golden-orbed spiders, agoutis, leaf-cutter ants, and howler monkeys. Also, the Ceiba pentandra tree about 3 kilometers from the field station base proved to be a marvel on the island, being 53 meters tall and 300 years old. Although the fauna either moved too quickly or were too small to be easily photographed with a standard camera, the trees and flora gave us a decent source of pictures.

Ryan and the Big Tree
This picture depicts one of our team members posing with “Big Tree.”

It will be my hope that Kalu Yala will flourish and soon have a rivaling lab station in the near future at Tres Brazos that can publish quality research as efficiently as the BCI STRI.

Other valuable things that I will have done beyond my Barro Colorado mission during this stint six time frame (including the off-stint before and after it) will have included the installation of hummingbird feeders in Tres Brazos, photos of my best raft in action, lectures about the uses of bamboo, and a possible report on the medicinal herbs in the Kalu Yala farm.

Here is a photo of Adrian Valverde, a specialist in architecture using bamboo:

bamboo-presentation

Mr. Valverde came to our Kalu Yala office and presented about the theoretical knowledge of bamboo, and the possible applied uses of it. Some of the most interesting facts he claimed about bamboo includes that a full moon will cause the water in the bamboo shoots to rise up throughout its body. So, it would be unwise to cut down bamboo under a full moon, because insects will be attract to the sugar cane fluids and quickly cause decay of the newly acquired bamboo. It is best to chop it down on a new moon. Some of the greatest structures designed with bamboo include bridges for cars and entire church buildings.

One Response to “The Stint Six Mission to Barro Colorado and Beyond”

  1. Ernesto Gómez says:

    Hello guys! It was so nice to see your report on your experience in BCI. I remember the three of you and I hope you are good in every aspect. Right now I am researching nocturnal bees, specifically their molecular basis trying to track the molecular origins of sociality, because this bees are unique, they show a facultative life style between being solitary or social.

    Cheers and best regards,

    Ernesto Gómez