Blog for 2009-07-15

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Today is the day where our project team (me, Molly, and Serena) execute our plan. After changing our ideas over and over again, we finally came down to something doable. We gave up our Macaranga project, and decided to do pitfall sampling in primary forest and secondary forest (logged 12 years ago) instead. We want to compare the soil arthropod richness and composition in primary forest closed canopy, primary forest gap, secondary forest closed canopy, and secondary forest gap. So, we went out this morning and set our trap in each location. It surely feels better to be in the field and do some real field work than to just wander around thinking what could be interesting and feasible project to do for the next couple of days (it was an important phase though). On our way to the plot, we came across some of the other teams. Good luck everyone!

In the afternoon, we had a lab activity. It’s finally time for us to do something about our focal taxa work. Before the lab work actually started, Cam gave a brief review about cladistic analysis. It was mainly about the importance of character in building a phylogenetic tree. Not only we have to be able to recognize and describe characters of a certain taxon we are working on, but we also have to be able to determine which character we should use to construct the tree. The lab work continued... apparently, we also need to have two other software beside mesquite, so we waited for everyone to have all the software ready. Then, we follow Cam’s instruction..... and we finally got to see the phylogenetic tree of our focal taxa. Mine was not that informative, but this labwork was supposed to be for practice, so I still have time to add or delete certain characters. We’ll see how it goes later :D We got a 45 minutes break after lab, and then we would have a very special lecture about Cordyceps by our TF, Ross.

- Ross’s Lecture -

Yay, applause for Ross! So, Cordyceps is one supergenus of parasitic fungi. They are deadly fungi that live inside its host (mainly insect/other arthropod). In certain species, these fungi are able to affect the behavior of their host to climb a plant and attach there before they die. Later on, the fungi will sprout their fruiting body out of the dead insect’s body, and they will have maximal distribution of their spores. As deadly as it may seems, this fungus actually play important role in controlling the population of their host.... In his lecture, Ross also talked about the distribution and the messy systematic of this fungi (as in fungi in general). Overall, it was a great and interesting lecture :)

Ok, one last thing... movie time! As Abby has mentioned in her blog yesterday, watching planet earth is one of our schedule today. We watched the shallow water episodes. It was as good and as interesting as the previous episode we watched, but I think it’s more fun this time because we were ‘accompanied’ by popcorn (thanks Bekti)! Ok, that’s all. If you are curious about the movie, go watch it: totally recommended. Cheers!